Recombinant Records

Amusing Ourselves to Death

Amusing Ourselves to Death cartoon

This comic was respectfully removed in March 2012 due to the wishes of the copyright holders of Neil Postman‘s book Amusing Ourselves to Death.

Do yourself a favour and read Neil Postman’s words in full. Purchase a copy of Amusing Ourselves to Death new/used (aff).

192 Comments on "Amusing Ourselves to Death"

  1. Andrew McMillen on Sun, 24th May 2009 1:25 pm 

    Outstanding, Stu.

  2. Thomas Savage on Sun, 24th May 2009 2:12 pm 

    Though i am unfamiliar with Huxley and his work this Cartoon certainly speaks volumes about society and it’s future. Nice one

  3. Matt on Tue, 26th May 2009 10:56 am 

    thumbs up

  4. threegirls on Tue, 26th May 2009 11:35 pm 

    Amusing ourselves to death…

    In his famous ‘Amusing Ourselves to Death‘, written in pre-internet times (1985), Neil Postman wrote down his fascinating fear that reality might be reflected more by Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World, where the public is oppressed by p…

  5. Peter Segnitz on Wed, 27th May 2009 5:18 am 

    There are those who would argue that neither Orwell nor Huxley can be pinned down so simply, but nevertheless this is a powerful and succinct piece. Well done. It made me feel more than a bit uneasy about my own state of distractednness.

  6. Ian Ultra on Wed, 27th May 2009 6:45 am 

    That is one awesome cartoon! I’ll def be reading Postman’s book soon, great cartoon blog!

  7. Question Technology on Wed, 27th May 2009 10:00 am 

    Amusing Ourselves to Death: The Comic…

    Stuart McMillen has created a nice graphic adaptation of Neil Postman’s comparison of Orwell vs. Huxley in his book Amusing Ourselves To Death. Link to comic: Amusing Ourselves To Death. (via Josh Sowin)…

  8. ted aird on Wed, 27th May 2009 10:54 am 

    great stuff. you are approaching genius.

  9. Tmoyles on Wed, 27th May 2009 11:05 am 

    Excellent comic, good to see that Huxley still has some traction.

    A nit-picky note: you have Huxley on the left and Orwell on the right at the top of the comic; yet when you have side-by-side comparisons in the comic, Huxley’s vision is on the right and Orwell on the left (and when vertically compared, Orwell precedes Huxley). It caused a small amount of cognitive dissonance on the initial reading.

  10. jim on Wed, 27th May 2009 1:13 pm 

    I see evidence of each one of those things today. Huxley wasn’t unequivocally right: the things he feared are just more prevalent than Orwell’s worries.

  11. Wayne on Thu, 28th May 2009 3:38 pm 

    …except Brave New World DID feature book-banning and restrictions on the flow of information. 1984 also used pleasure/distraction as a meams of control. Either Neil Postman misremembers the original works, or is misrepresenting them with the intention of obfuscating the truth: These two works have far more in common with one another than either has with the world of today.

  12. Ronnica on Fri, 29th May 2009 4:42 am 

    I was unaware of the original premise until this, but I love how you brought it up to date. Definitely drives it home…

  13. chris on Fri, 29th May 2009 10:45 am 

    i .. am .. just floored. i love this so much.

    this comic has changed my life. my first step into a larger world.

    thank you, with more sincerity than a comment on an article can successfully convey.

  14. stacy on Sat, 30th May 2009 11:36 pm 

    Being the only teacher at my high school who teaches 1984 instead of Animal Farm, and being the lone herald of the wonders of this novel….my thoughts are provoked by this comparison. Rethinking is in order.

  15. patrick on Mon, 1st Jun 2009 7:21 am 

    I’m with Wayne on this – great bit of artwork and interesting thoughts, but ‘Orwell vs Huxley’ is a false opposition. Neil Postman seems to have skipped the commonalities between these authors. 1984, for instance, speaks of soft porn being produced en masse for the titillation and distraction of the ‘proles’. And anyone who thinks Huxley’s fears are more completely realised than Orwell’s has never lived under a dictatorship, still a thriving form of government worldwide. Love and hate, carrots and sticks. Clearly both dystopias can exist side by side.

  16. Vidaloon on Tue, 2nd Jun 2009 12:28 pm 

    Thanks for mirroring their disparate visions by opposing their views.

    Must re-read both novels, four decades have passed since our summer of ’69 encounter to even understand what I just said. Learned how to ‘Grok it’ though being a ‘stranger in a strange land’ at the same time.

    Peace!

  17. MB on Wed, 3rd Jun 2009 12:40 pm 

    Excellent juxtapose of the two. Roger Waters brilliantly used Amusing ourselves to death as the basis of of his album “Amused to Death”, where society is basically dumbed down by TV.

  18. Lance Strate on Thu, 4th Jun 2009 11:57 am 

    Nice work. As someone who enjoys comics and was a student and friend of Postman’s I can really appreciate what you’ve done here, and I can tell you that Neil would indeed have been amused.

  19. Grant Czerepak on Thu, 4th Jun 2009 3:32 pm 

    Aristotle spoke of both Orwell’s side and Huxley’s. He called them “deficiency” and “excess”. Aristotle stated that moderation was not mediocrity, but the achievement of excellence in all aspects of life.

  20. Dan on Fri, 5th Jun 2009 10:07 am 

    While I enjoyed the graphic adaptation, and how it conveys the thought of both writers, I do not like how it creates a false opposition between the the two visions of reality. As another person has already keenly noted, both dystopias can exist side by side. In fact, for the majority of the planet’s inhabitants, the Orwellian vision of reality almost certainly holds more resonance.

  21. Huston on Sat, 6th Jun 2009 4:24 am 

    Brilliant! When I discuss with my students the possible negative effects of our obsession with electronic entertainment technology, they almost always–even the very smart ones–react with hostile, instinctive xenophobia. After they rant, I ask if perhaps their blind but powerful emotional attachment to these toys says something about how I might be right. There’s always a long silence after that.

  22. Kim Arcadi Moon on Sun, 7th Jun 2009 12:52 am 

    I thank you deeply for creating this and posting it.

    It’s ironic that this message should be distributed on the Web and disseminated through the likes of LiveJournal and Facebook. Ironic and necessary and beautiful and delightful and hope-inspiring. If the link to this cartoon could keep circulating for a year, probably more people would have absorbed (consciously or unconsciously) the central message of Postman’s too-prescient work than have ever actually read the work itself.

    The Huxleyan model’s strength — its ability to conceal vital ideas by fogging them out with trivialities and misdirection — is also its weakness, in that though the ideas are obscured by fog, they are still there. And it’s the ideas that _don’t_ get trumpeted that sometimes have the greatest effects on cultures.

    But only over time.

    I’m posting the link prominently on my LiveJournal and Facebook accounts.

    Thank you.

  23. JulieG on Mon, 8th Jun 2009 1:51 pm 

    Thanks for making this – will have to check out Postman’s stuff.

    I didn’t see just the differences between Huxley and Orwell here, I also saw their commonalities: that one way or another, we’ll be unable to find the truth about the world. Maybe it’ll be taken away by force, maybe it’ll be hidden in the crapflood of the media – but if we don’t see it, we can’t do anything about it.

  24. Down with Detroit on Tue, 9th Jun 2009 11:27 am 

    I like it! I think we all are guilty of both sides. Especially how I realized I was being distracted as I am told humans search for distractions. Great work

  25. Down with Detroit on Tue, 9th Jun 2009 11:28 am 

    I’m unfamiliar with the “big brother” concept of pleasure, anyone?

  26. sir jorge on Tue, 9th Jun 2009 1:21 pm 

    no one every believes me about huxley

  27. El rorro on Thu, 11th Jun 2009 2:25 am 

    If you look at Venezuela, it fits Orwell perfectly. Nothing to do with Huxley. Thanks to Hugo Chavez of course!

  28. aremann on Sun, 14th Jun 2009 12:34 am 

    This seems like a waste of time to me. Why on earth should one oppose these two novels to each other in such a manner? The way the books are portrayed here is so black and white. (Yes, in more than one way.) There are so many more shades to the books, especially 1984, that are left out for some reason. If you think that Orwell had it all wrong and if you don’t see how 1984 is relevant today, I think you missed a point or two.

  29. Flloyd Kennedy on Fri, 19th Jun 2009 11:09 am 

    This is simply stunning, thanks so much for sharing something actually provocative and challenging!

  30. D on Thu, 25th Jun 2009 12:28 pm 

    Areman,

    this isn’t a contest at all. You see it as some kind of criticism of Orwell, when it’s just not. Orwell aptly described the world as it was and is in many places… and some of it applies in the USA I suppose.

    But this book is an argument that something more fundamental and sinister is wrong with the Western culture. It’s juxtaposing the two ideas of public control because it makes so much horrible sense to do so.

  31. Auntie Hosebag on Wed, 8th Jul 2009 7:00 am 

    Interesting premise, but sadly, I’d say it’s pretty clear BOTH visions have come to pass. Between the PATRIOT Act, the Federal Reserve System, and the two-party political system pimped, enshrined, and enforced by the American media, there is literally nowhere to turn. I’m rooting for the asteroids, a truly democratic solution.

  32. hawk on Thu, 16th Jul 2009 3:20 am 

    I like this little comic, good food for thought. Interesting and at first its hard to argue with what is presented, before considering the other commenter’s’ mentions of omissions. But I thought that Huxley’s fears are the fears that we are presented with when we [and i'm speaking in context of America] look at the rest of the world. Orwell’s vision is well suited to our own concerns of our own society, while Huxley’s in contrast looks much like how we view the outside world and what we fear happening to it.

  33. agj on Thu, 16th Jul 2009 3:20 am 

    While this is well done, could it not be that the conflation of the two views is actually what has occurred; rather than separate orwell’s and huxley’s visions into competing visions one could easily construct the argument that orwell’s big brother society noticed the truth behind huxley’s hedonistic distracted boobish society and decided to manufacture a way to control the masses while suppressing the minority of intellectuals from whom arises the threat of revolution and rebellion. I do enjoy the comic though, and unfortunately fear it is a scathingly unsaccharined view.

  34. PerpetualJon on Sat, 18th Jul 2009 2:45 am 

    Fantastic cartoon –fantastic and necessary. I truly hope that this will affect many people that just haven’t cracked open a book in a while that makes them re-evaluate the way they think and live. I guess my only problem with it is what can the solution be? Clearly it can’t be legislated into a course correction. I believe that it must simply be permeated into the consciousness of those under the influence of these media bombardments…

  35. H. Bomb on Sun, 19th Jul 2009 1:16 pm 

    Hmmm… So, I take it that you’re NOT on Twitter! :-p

    Brilliant cartoon!

  36. Aldous Huxley x George Orwell - Trabalho Sujo - OESQUEMA on Mon, 20th Jul 2009 10:35 pm 

    [...] foda. Via Stuart McMillen. « Obey Sarney | » Por Alexandre Matias às 10:26 | | Permalink Categorias: [...]

  37. ani on Wed, 22nd Jul 2009 1:49 pm 

    You have brilliantly contributed to Huxley’s worst fear. I find myself amused to death. Thanks for the amusement, …..or should I simply say, thanks for the memories.
    Ani

  38. 1984 X Admirável Mundo Novo « Duelo on Thu, 23rd Jul 2009 5:29 am 

    [...] Stuart McMillen (via Alexandre [...]

  39. Se Divertindo até a Morte / blog.ftofani.com on Fri, 24th Jul 2009 7:55 am 

    [...] Amusing Ourselves to Death < Recombinant Records. [...]

  40. Stephen Lark on Fri, 31st Jul 2009 8:16 pm 

    This is a recent lecture by Michael Wesch that makes reference to Amusing Ourselves to Death:

    The Machine is (Changing) Us: YouTube and the Politics of Authenticity
    (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=09gR6VPVrpw)

  41. Stephen Lark on Fri, 31st Jul 2009 8:17 pm 

    Working link:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=09gR6VPVrpw

  42. R. Bertsche on Tue, 4th Aug 2009 3:11 am 

    I have read both. A very, very long time ago. This was a very illuminating and though provoking article. Thank you. Now I have to re-read the books. Sigh… another distraction…. :o)

  43. Carolfoasia on Sat, 8th Aug 2009 12:27 am 

    Oh my goodness. This is amazing!

  44. Todd I. Stark on Sun, 9th Aug 2009 1:32 pm 

    Thanks very much for this. I haven’t thought about Neil Postman’s critique for years. The more time passes, the more amazing it is how much he got dead right, although the forces are now a conjunction of ad culture, technology, and “social media” technology and not just show business culture.

  45. Todd I. Stark on Sun, 9th Aug 2009 1:37 pm 

    P.S. I’m finding it oddly warming that there are other people that find Huxley and Postman poignant for today’s culture. I thought my kind had died out or turned into techno tweets.

  46. Nature balances. on Sat, 15th Aug 2009 2:35 am 

    Very effective simplification/cartoon to provoke thought.

    I find both trends true, and that nature will balance the excesses. But our technology keeps nature’s helpful limits ever-more distant, allowing us to become more radically imbalanced.

  47. Justin on Sat, 15th Aug 2009 3:05 am 

    So instead of reading Amusing Ourselves to Death, you can fit this simplified form of the introduction in-between television commercials.

  48. zelak on Thu, 20th Aug 2009 9:52 am 

    I don’t have the time to respond to this in quite as much detail as I would like, but an inadequate response is better than no response at all. This comic seriously misrepresents Orwell’s mature understanding of the way the media works in liberal societies, which receives its clearest articulation in his preface to Animal Farm (http://home.iprimus.com.au/korob/Orwell.html), which went unpublished in his lifetime. In it, he says that

    “The sinister fact about literary censorship in England is that it is largely voluntary. Unpopular ideas can be silenced, and inconvenient facts kept dark, without the need for any official ban. Anyone who has lived long in a foreign country will know of instances of sensational items of news – things which on their own merits would get the big headlines – being kept right out of the British press, not because the Government intervened but because of a general tacit agreement that ‘it wouldn’t do’ to mention that particular fact. So far as the daily newspapers go, this is easy to understand. The British press is extremely centralized, and most of it is owned by wealthy men who have every motive to be dishonest on certain important topics. But the same kind of veiled censorship also operates in books and periodicals, as well as in plays, films and radio. At any given moment there is an orthodoxy, a body of ideas which it is assumed that all right-thinking people will accept without question. It is not exactly forbidden to say this, that or the other, but it is ‘not done’ to say it, just as in mid-Victorian times it was ‘not done’ to mention trousers in the presence of a lady. Anyone who challenges the prevailing orthodoxy finds himself silenced with surprising effectiveness. A genuinely unfashionable opinion is almost never given a fair hearing, either in the popular press or in the highbrow periodicals.”

    I haven’t read Postman, so I don’t know whether this is a fair portrayal of his ideas. If so, I think he’s off the mark. While it’s true that we are inundated with 24h news coverage, that fact does not preclude the grave omission by the media of information vital to the public interest. Both the quality and the quantity of foreign news coverage, for example, has declined appallingly in recent years, while other news stands as ignored as it has always been. When did you last see news coverage about factory takeovers in Korea or Argentina, or about the way the government colludes with corporations in the United States, etc.? Don’t forget that most Americans don’t know about alternative media, again with good reason. Of the people I know that do know what is going on, few are complacent; most are absolutely incensed.

  49. Todd I. Stark on Thu, 20th Aug 2009 9:42 pm 

    Zelak, thanks very much for posting this! You’re right, there are important differences worth keeping in mind. From what I recall of Postman, his thrust was not so much an intentional witholding of information by authority but literally “amusing ourselves” meaning that by allowing ourselves to pursue pleasant superficial interests so freely, we would deteriorate our understanding of the world and then potentially make ourselves vulnerable to something more malicious.

    I think an update to Postman and Huxley might argue that we’ve harnessed our exploratory drive to floods of information rather than fewer structured sources, changing the way we understand the world and thinking about it in a different, perhaps less deep way.

    Think of the cognitive differences between reading a book and surfing the web or texting. The structure of information is very different, and I think a modern culture critic might argue that it is a potentially lamentable and even serious trend, if thinking is structured largely by cognitive environment.

  50. John Chrysostom on Sun, 23rd Aug 2009 10:06 am 

    Hey,

    I was just wondering… isn’t your cartoon a little bit ironic? I mean, the whole point of amusing ourselves to death is that can’t tolerate anything intellectual and requires everything to come in a short, entertaining format.

    Doesn’t reducing Postman’s book to a short, amusing comic feed the disease? Haven’t you missed the entire point of the work?

    -John

  51. Todd I. Stark on Sun, 23rd Aug 2009 10:27 am 

    Great point, although I doubt the irony was lost on most. I’m constantly aware of it as I use Twitter largely with other people interested in books and educational theory. I think realistically, you can use superficial information channels to help reference more substantial information sources. Simiarly, we can use entertainment judiciously to help point people to more serious content. At least I hope that’s what’s going on in at least some cases! To me it seems that the critique is really about entertainment taking over for thinking, not about entertainment being useless to facilitate thinking.

  52. Link Banana » Huxley was Right on Tue, 1st Sep 2009 11:05 am 

    [...] digging around, I noticed a comment that was far to good to pass up: So instead of reading Amusing Ourselves to Death, you can fit this [...]

  53. Fernando Raposo on Tue, 8th Sep 2009 8:28 am 

    Great job, man!

    Very concise and right to the point.

    I’ve always liked Huxley better than Orwell, although they’re both geniuses. I think “Ape and Essence” never got the attention it deserves. Maybe you can give it a little cartoonish push! =oD

    Congrats from Rio de Janeiro, Brazil!

  54. Amusing Ourselves to Death on Sat, 17th Oct 2009 7:10 am 

    [...] Subscribe to the comments for this post? [...]

  55. George Orwell vs Aldous Huxley « el itacate on Thu, 29th Oct 2009 5:23 am 

    [...] Saltar a Comentarios A través del Blog de un otario me encontré con una genial viñeta de Stuart McMillen en la que compara la distopiía creada por Orwell en su libro 1984, con la creada en Un mundo feliz [...]

  56. Tilda on Tue, 10th Nov 2009 1:50 am 

    Voll cool!

  57. Orwell versus Huxley em cartoon « E Agora, Como Viveremos? on Tue, 24th Nov 2009 8:02 am 

    [...] pelo cartunista americano Stuart McMillen e  adaptada para o português por Marcelo Del Debbio, uma interessante comparação feita em [...]

  58. LiberdadeDeExpressao on Fri, 27th Nov 2009 3:17 am 

    Really great.

  59. Volkan on Sat, 26th Dec 2009 9:45 am 

    Great work man! Go on!

  60. R. bender on Tue, 29th Dec 2009 11:34 am 

    Love it!

    After reading Amusing Ourselves to Death and How to Watch TV News, I created my senior project in Art around the concept.

    The work is posted on my Flickr

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/34368768@N06/sets/72157623002289604/

    Keep up your work, it is some great stuff.

  61. Shawn White on Thu, 7th Jan 2010 6:00 pm 

    Fine work. Some have commented on the accuracy of a cartoon representation of the two authors, but in the end, the point made by the use of the basic themes is absolutely brilliant.

  62. “1984″ di Orwell vs “Il mondo nuovo” di Huxley « B-log(0) on Fri, 8th Jan 2010 11:34 pm 

    [...] di Huxley 8 Gennaio 2010 Lascia un commento Passa ai commenti Ho tradotto una vignetta trovata in rete che spiega meglio di mille libri i problemi della nostra società, confrontando le visioni [...]

  63. ZaX on Sun, 10th Jan 2010 11:36 am 

    Great work!
    I’ve made an italian version on my blog, as you can see from your #11 trackback

    :-)

  64. Ironbarr on Tue, 12th Jan 2010 6:41 am 

    Have not read either book, but I can look around most any day and see authors’ thoughts in fact and intact… Woe be unto us, our eyes and ears be closed.

    Re asteroids – I prefer a republic vice democratic approach… let’s see how our electeds handle that scenario. (:))

  65. Marko on Wed, 13th Jan 2010 4:26 pm 

    Old [Orwellian] system or ‘New’ [Huxleyian] system

    Most of people have their lives ruled, depending on where they live [a ditactorship, a formal democracy, a region controlled by war and/or drug lord] by one, another or …both.

    And in politics the difference could be subtle – http://www.politicalcompass.org

  66. Ian L. McQueen on Tue, 19th Jan 2010 12:53 am 

    Thanks for taking the time to draw(?), compile, and make available these “cartoons”. Thought provoking.

    IanM

  67. Kirk M. Steen on Mon, 25th Jan 2010 7:55 am 

    It is significant, I believe to the two novels’ warnings that Orwell’s was written in bombed-out London in 1948 and Huxley’s was written in California during the 1920s when the film industry was maturing.
    I invite all to get the latest word on the subject by reading two recent works: Christopher Hitchens’ “Why Orwell Matters” and Christopher Hedges’ “Empire of Illusion.”

  68. [email protected] on Wed, 27th Jan 2010 4:29 am 

    Huxley: “The truth drowned in a sea of irrelevance,” I guess.
    Great post.

  69. Amusing Ourselves to Death… « A Moderate Estimate on Sat, 30th Jan 2010 4:33 pm 

    [...] Source: Recombinant Records [...]

  70. Rob on Mon, 1st Feb 2010 12:44 am 

    You might be interested in this Graun article: http://www.guardian.co.uk/technology/2010/jan/31/ipad-review-comments-naughton

    It reminded me of this strip.

  71. Big Brother vs Mustapha Mond | LimbicNutrition Weblog on Fri, 5th Feb 2010 2:27 am 

    [...] enjoyed this great cartoon from Stuart McMillen (Recombinant records) presenting the introduction to Neil Postman’s [...]

  72. Flávio on Fri, 26th Feb 2010 5:19 am 

    Orwell was right too. Both books, Brave New World and Nineteen Eight-Four was great and adressed diferent aspects of people domination. I dont think that Huxley or Orwell was wrong or less right. Both was actually genial.

  73. Kenny H on Sat, 27th Feb 2010 4:01 am 

    Very clever observation of western life

  74. Weapons of Mass Distraction « Death By Awesomeness on Tue, 2nd Mar 2010 2:24 am 

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    [...] is well worth a few minutes of your time to read, click here> Amusing Ourselves to Death < Recombinant Records. to go to Stuart’s blog and see the full [...]

  76. floc on Wed, 10th Mar 2010 4:01 am 

    This is it

  77. Chicago on Sun, 14th Mar 2010 2:01 pm 

    Both Orwell AND Huxley were right.

  78. Neil F on Sat, 20th Mar 2010 2:07 am 

    Masterful precis! Thanks

  79. shayen on Mon, 22nd Mar 2010 2:43 pm 

    The author of the book never honestly considered that both Huxley and Orwell were right?

  80. Alex on Sun, 28th Mar 2010 6:25 am 

    were fucked

  81. "1984" di Orwell vs "Il mondo nuovo" di Huxley « B-log(0) – Non c'è limite al possibile on Wed, 31st Mar 2010 4:35 pm 

    [...] tradotto una vignetta trovata in rete che spiega meglio di mille libri i problemi della nostra società, confrontando le visioni [...]

  82. Pradeep G Siddheshwa on Wed, 14th Apr 2010 1:30 pm 

    Just when I was thinking that I have stopped thinking, I read this amazing discourse and well what else can I say now:’I have started to think!!!!’

  83. Wat zal ons opbreken: pijn of plezier? | Judy Elfferich on Thu, 15th Apr 2010 12:42 am 

    [...] Een van de reacties op McMillens cartoon: [...]

  84. HowardW on Sat, 17th Apr 2010 10:17 am 

    Huxley was right. Orwell was right. We’re screwed.

  85. Stuart McMillen » Blog Archive » Part of Nature on Thu, 22nd Apr 2010 12:42 pm 

    [...] trying harder to set a sustained tone with my strips. ‘Amusing Ourselves to Death‘ gave me a peek at what can be achieved, but I can envision something far greater than that [...]

  86. David on Wed, 12th May 2010 11:38 am 

    Amazing. Straight to the point.

  87. A on Mon, 26th Jul 2010 3:24 am 

    Stuart,

    This is a great rendition of two books I feared and loved. I’ll definitely read the Postman text now. Mind if I translate your cartoon version into Hebrew and spread it via email?
    Of course I’ll keep all the credits and add a link to your site.

    A

  88. Richard Wicks on Tue, 3rd Aug 2010 5:15 pm 

    Our society is controlled both ways.

    On one hand, we have the Patriot Act, the War on Terror(TM)(R), extra judicial execution by our executive branch, an Tewwowists.

    One the other hand, we have American Idol, “debates” between whoever the media deems credible candidates both of which do the same thing when elected and Rush Limbaugh/The Daily Show.

    I really don’t see how you can say decisively who was right, both approaches are being taken but there is no reason to complain, people aren’t forced into it, they readily accept it.

    And really, just what difference does it make how the population at large is controlled? It’s controlled, that’s all that matters.

  89. John Kyle on Tue, 24th Aug 2010 1:32 pm 

    Good, but to be fair in 1984 the Proles were controlled, not by violence, but by banality, much like the case he is making for Huxley. It was the relatively-educated party members that were controlled by the party authoritarian apparatus, while the Proles were left mostly to their own devices and distracted with party produced pornography (PornoSec), pulp-fiction (FicDep), films, and lotteries.
    I think think this was because Proles were too numerous to be dealt with through repression, or perhaps given their stupidity the party thought repression was unnecessary, or a waste of effort.

  90. John Kyle on Tue, 24th Aug 2010 1:34 pm 

    Furthermore, you could also have included Fahrenheit 451 in the strip, as there are a lot of similarities with a society utterly distracted by vapid video-walls and shows along the lines of “Cops”. Sure the Firemen come and burn the books, but no one cares anyway. At least, no one but the protagonist.

    And in H.G Wells’ “The Time Machine”, for that matter…. or Mike Judge’s “Idiocracy”… It seems the impending dumbing down of society is a popular topic. Maybe it was always thus?

  91. CianaDawnSkye on Thu, 26th Aug 2010 3:49 pm 

    it is pretty sad.I just want to live the right way.getting my license to drive real soon with the breathahliar.I will never risk someones life or mine again!!

  92. torrent download on Tue, 21st Sep 2010 3:54 pm 

    Great job, great idea.. Keep it up dude..

  93. Huxley vs. Orwell « christophe clarijs on Mon, 29th Nov 2010 12:26 am 

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  95. Ásgeir on Wed, 22nd Dec 2010 6:09 am 

    I rather think that a combination of Huxleys and Orwells visions of those dystopias will be our undoing.

    I mean while we’re busy at home an online watching what has been deemed appropriate by the powers that be there are restrictions being passed almost without our knowing on our liberties because of “terrorism” that kills or maims fewer persons a year than heart disease or car crashes.

    Something worth looking into.

  96. Bing on Mon, 3rd Jan 2011 11:51 am 

    If you are in China, you will say there is no right and wrong between Huxleys and Orwell, both happening right now there! Nice cartoon!

  97. Amusing ourselves to death « A Difficult Venture on Thu, 6th Jan 2011 12:21 pm 

    [...] Amusing ourselves to death by Stuart Mcmillen [...]

  98. isaac on Mon, 28th Feb 2011 4:54 pm 

    hi im mexican i’ll like to translate some of your cartoons to give some copies to mi friends, and people around me, so i ask you for permission, because many people dosnt have access to internet or simply use it to amusing themselver to death.

    exelent work

  99. Dorothy on Sat, 5th Mar 2011 1:33 am 

    These two writers weren’t making PREDICTIONS – why do people continue to think that? They were making profound and brilliant observations about human nature and political dangers. Both books were damn good stories too.

    Now that I’m gotten that off my chest, these were excellent cartoons!

  100. Gregory Mostizky on Fri, 8th Apr 2011 10:21 pm 

    Haven’t read the comments but.. while there are a lot of similarities between today and ‘Brave New World’ there is also a crucial difference… ‘BNW’ was static society with tons of effort invested in keeping the status quo, stiffing the innovation and so on… So while it would superficially appear that Huxley was right – he was wrong in the most important thing – that society and culture and science can evolve in spite of all the ‘pleasure availability’

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  107. Edwin on Sat, 10th Dec 2011 12:34 am 

    When calculators were invented, it was feared that people would stop doing arithmetic in the mind.

    When word processing software was invented it was feared that people will stop cursive writing.

    With the internet and wikipedia around it was feared that people will stop remembering things and would only remember how to look it up.

    All of these things did happen.

    But instead of subverting the human intellect these tools and almost every tool has only increased what we are capable of. We now focus on things which are more meta.

    Happiness, comforts, quality of life.. these things are not evil and will never be evil in excess. They will not make people dumb.

    If Huxley was right, then our ape ancestors would have been the pinnacle of an intellectual being, because they had no tools, medicines, readily available necessities of life.

  108. Fernando Gouveia on Tue, 13th Dec 2011 11:03 am 

    About comment #109: “If Huxley was right, then our ape ancestors would have been the pinnacle of an intellectual being, because they had no tools, medicines, readily available necessities of life.”
    That’s a logical error, a non-sequitur. From the premise that material comfort is way of dumbing us (let’s formalize it: C => D) we can NOT conclude that the lack of material comfort will make us smarter, or less dumb (~C => ~D). That’s the famous fallacy of denying the antecedent.

    About Neil Postman’s hypothesis about the possibility that Huxley, not Orwell, was right: that’s a fallacy, too — namely, a false dilemma. It’s not either Huxley or Orwell was right — they can BOTH be right. And Bradbury (Fahrenheit 451), too, for that matter…

  109. Fernando Gouveia on Thu, 15th Dec 2011 1:00 am 

    Just to clear things out: Neil Postman mistake (and I didn’t read his book) may be that he sees both books as their authors’ warnings about what society might turn into (their “fears”), and concludes Huxley made the correct prediction. But that interpretation is wrong. Only Huxley’s book may be considered “prophetic” and intended as a warning for the (near?) future of Western-style societies. Orwell’s book is neither prophetic nor aimed at the West: Orwell’s fiction is based on a society he actually witnessed, not inferred (he didn’t fear hypothetic future events, he denounced actual events already unfolding); the oppressive society he witnessed was Stalin’s Soviet Union.

  110. Sam on Mon, 19th Dec 2011 8:12 am 

    @Edwin, comment #109

    That’s a terribly reductionist argument. Tools are vital to learning and healthy society, the issue is when

    -Logarithms are no longer taught nor understood (the basis for all large calculation before calculators, and the tools calculators still use.) Calculators are handed to kids without them having any understanding of the programming or theory underpinning it

    -People can no longer spell correctly without spellchecker. Eloquent writing is replaced by 150 characters (which can be eloquent but will never suffice for nuanced reasoning.)

    -Kids stop asking questions and stop figuring out how to figure out those questions on their own because all of the world’s knowledge is already at their fingertips with wikipedia.

    Pleasure derived from consumption will always be fleeting. Satisfaction comes from the art of original creation. Tools should be used for creation, but increasingly they are glorified $500 media-delivering devices (the iPad) that only fools believe they are using for their “productivity apps.”

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  112. deb on Sat, 24th Mar 2012 12:41 am 

    disappointed that the comic is no longer available, any other way to read it?

  113. Ryan Jerving on Sat, 24th Mar 2012 4:02 am 

    Very disappointed that the copyright holders of Postman’s text thought they had the right to grant or not grant permission for what was was, in this case, almost the definition of “fair use” and was, even more certainly, the kind of transformative and critical use for which the fair use defense was developed.

    Fair use only remains robust to the degree that we’re willing to insist on using it.

  114. Sam on Sun, 15th Apr 2012 11:35 am 

    Brilliant. Favourite comic for quite some time. Keep it up Stu.

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  116. Brandon on Thu, 27th Sep 2012 9:35 pm 

    Let’s not forget that this comic (in the sense of being a joke) is making a comment on the increasing anesthetisation of society. The sentiment of this cartoons very existence is contrary to the name point it attempts to make. Also, the fact that 120 people have offered there democratic opinion about this, is a further 120 nails in the coffin of your comparison to the contemporary world. You troglodite.

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  119. eobet on Wed, 23rd Jan 2013 8:46 pm 

    Fuck those copyright holders for not realizing that your comic was the best advertisement they ever received.

    I would never have heard of the book if it wasn’t for this widespread comic, but because of their actions forcing you to remove it, I refuse to buy it or recommend it to anyone else.

  120. Bill Peschel on Mon, 25th Mar 2013 8:44 am 

    The ironies duplicate themselves, in which Postman’s copyright holders act like Big Brother to suppress the flow of information about its book, and that your comic appears on another web site at

    http://www.highexistence.com/amusing-ourselves-to-death-huxley-vs-orwell/

    It was posted by the site’s owner, Jordan Lejuwaan, who self-identifies as “the creator of HighExistence. I love inspiring others to follow their bliss, which in turn fulfills my own. I live for traveling, late-night conversations and moments of intense clarity or intoxication.” Which sounds as distracting and shallow as anything Huxley proposes.

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