WHY WE CARE


Plugged In exists to shine a light on the world of popular entertainment while giving you and your family the essential tools you need to understand, navigate and impact the culture in which we live. Through reviews, articles and discussions, we want to spark intellectual thought, spiritual growth and a desire to follow the command of Colossians 2:8: "See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the basic principles of this world rather than on Christ."

YOUR STORIES


Family uses Plugged In as a ‘significant compass’

"I am at a loss for words to adequately express how much it means to my husband and me to know that there is an organization like Focus that is rooting for us. Just today I was reading Psalm 37 and thinking about how your ministry provides ways to 'dwell in the land and enjoy safe pasture.' We have two teenagers and an 8-year-old in our household...Plugged In has become a significant compass for our family. All three of our kids are dedicated to their walk with Christ but they still encounter challenges. Thanks for all of your research and persistence in helping us navigate through stormy waters."

Plugged In helps college student stand-up for his belief

"Thanks for the great job you do in posting movie and television reviews online. I’m a college freshman and I recently had a confrontational disagreement with my English professor regarding an R-rated film. It is her favorite movie and she wanted to show it in class. I went to your Web site to research the film’s content. Although I had not seen the movie myself, I was able to make an educated argument against it based on the concerns you outlined. The prof said that she was impressed by my stand and decided to poll the whole class and give us a choice. We overwhelmingly voted to watch a G-rated movie instead! I’ve learned that I can trust your site and I will be using it a lot in the future.”

Plugged In brings ‘Sanity and Order’ to Non-believer

“Even though I don’t consider myself a Christian, I find your Plugged In Web site useful and thought-provoking. No one reviews movies like you do. Instead of being judgmental, you put entertainment ‘on trial.’ After presenting the evidence, you allow the jury of your readers to decide for themselves what they should do. In my opinion, you bring sanity and order to the wild world of modern day entertainment. Keep up the good work!”

Mom thinks Plugged In is the ‘BEST Christian media review site’

"Our family doesn't go to the movies until we go online and check out your assessment of a given film. I think this is the BEST Christian media review website that I've found, and I recommend it to my family and friends. Keep up the good work!"

SUPPORT THE WORK OF PLUGGED IN

Our hope is that whether you're a parent, youth leader or teen, the information and tools at Plugged In will help you and your family make appropriate media decisions. We are privileged to do the work we do, and are continually thankful for the generosity and support from you, our loyal readers, listeners and friends.

We hope this review was both interesting and useful. Please share it with family and friends who would benefit from it as well.

Book Review

This book has been reviewed by Focus on the Family’s marriage and parenting magazine.

Positive Elements

Spiritual Content

Sexual Content

Violent Content

Crude or Profane Language

Drug and Alcohol Content

Other Negative Elements

Conclusion

Pro-social Content

Objectionable Content

Summary Advisory

Plot Summary

Winston Smith works as a clerk in London, the chief city of Airstrip One in the provinces of Oceania. The dystopian nation where Winston lives is ruled by the Party, a totalitarian regime whose key phrases include "War is Peace," "Freedom is Slavery" and "Ignorance is Strength." The face of Big Brother, the Party's figurehead, graces posters on every wall and street corner; the signage warns: "Big Brother is Watching." Inside every home and workplace, telescreens monitor individuals to ensure their behaviors, facial expressions and even dreams show no indication of dissension. Children are urged to spy on their parents and turn them in for any action that might indicate Party disloyalty. The Party has created its own language, newspeak, that is constantly evolving to eliminate words that don't promote their orthodoxy. They also preach "doublethink," where people must believe two opposing thoughts at once if the Party requires it.

Ultimately, the Party seeks to control reality, believing whoever controls the past controls the future, and whoever controls the present controls the past. Government offices, like the one in which Winston works, ensure that any unsavory information about the past is wiped out and rewritten in all publications. The old information is then destroyed as though it never existed. One moment, Party members believe they are at war with the nation of Eurasia. A moment later, they're told they've always been at war with Eastasia, and they are compelled to believe it. Individuals caught rebelling against the Party vanish and are written out of history, becoming "unpersons."

Winston, unconvinced that the Party is right, begins to rebel in subtle ways. He starts an affair with a co-worker named Julia. He also seeks out a man in his office named O'Brien, whom he believes to be working for the rogue anti-Party group, the Brotherhood. O'Brien gives Winston a book that explains the Party's tactics. The book talks about the importance of three people classes (in Oceania's case, the Inner Party, the Outer Party and commoners called proles) and the power struggles between nations that are necessary for keeping these classes intact.

Shortly after Winston has read the book, he and Julia are arrested at their love nest. O'Brien, an operative for the Party, turns them in. He is also Winston's chief persecutor over the time he spends in prison. Winston is starved, beaten and physically tortured. Worse than that, however, is the mental anguish inflicted to convince him Big Brother and the Party are right. O'Brien explains that the martyrs of old died clutching their beliefs, but that the Party would not allow anyone to die unconverted. In session after session, O'Brien tries to convince Winston that reality exists only in his own mind. If Winston tries hard enough, he can make himself believe what the Party preaches. Winston is finally sent to room 101, where each prisoner meets his deepest fear. Winston's is rats. When faced with the prospect of being eaten alive by them, he betrays Julia and begs O'Brien to torture her instead of him. Eventually, Winston is completely brainwashed into loving Big Brother and sent back into the world where the Party finds him completely harmless. He encounters Julia once more. They confess their betrayals and no longer have any interest in one another.

Christian Beliefs

The narrator says the proles would be allowed to practice religion if they'd shown any signs of wanting or needing it. A man is imprisoned partly because he allowed the word "God" to remain at the end of a Kipling poem he was revising for the Party. O'Brien's book likens the Party to the Catholic Church in that one does not achieve membership by inheritance but by opting in.

Other Belief Systems

A woman in Winston's office cries out that Big Brother is her Savior. Winston tells O'Brien that the world was uninhabited for millions of years. O'Brien objects, saying it is only as old as we are. O'Brien says people could control the laws of nature, such as gravity, if they tried hard enough. He believes power can only be truly asserted when it is done through pain and humiliation. He says God is power, and Party leaders control life, so they are the priests of power. Only in a group setting is power found, he believes, and individuals are infinitely malleable. Winston says he doesn't believe in God but believes there is something deeper in man, perhaps man's spirit, that will defeat evil.

Authority Roles

The Inner Party consists of the elite Party members, those who rule and are allowed life's luxuries. They go to great lengths, including maintaining a constant state of war, to ensure they remain in power. Big Brother is the Party's figurehead, always watching the actions of Party members. O'Brien will not tell Winston whether Big Brother is a real person, only that he will never die. O'Brien tricks Winston into thinking he (O'Brien) is a dissenter, then betrays Winston. O'Brien shows occasional tenderness in the midst of torturing Winston. He exudes a sense of wisdom and confidence in his beliefs about the Party that intimidates Winston.

Profanity/Violence

The word d--n appears half a dozen times. A woman in prison calls someone the f-word along with b--tard. The Party urges its members to develop passionate, violent tendencies. It televises bloody events, such as a little boy's arm being blown off. It holds daily and annual Hate festivities to stir the masses into frenzies where they desire to kill or injure others. In one such Hate moment, Winston fantasizes about tying Julia naked to a stake and shooting her full of arrows before raping her and cutting her throat. Adults and children alike revel in the violence of the Party's monthly public hangings. After a bombing, Winston sees a severed hand and kicks it into the gutter. He tells Julia he's sorry he didn't shove his wife off a cliff when he had the opportunity. Winston and Julia tell O'Brien they will do whatever is necessary for the Brotherhood, including distributing addictive drugs, giving others sexually transmitted diseases, throwing sulfuric acid in a child's face or otherwise killing people. Prisoners, including Winston, are beaten and bloodied until their teeth come out (or are yanked out). Winston is starved and beaten on numerous occasions with fists, boots and steel rods. He often rolls around in his own blood and vomit. As O'Brien prepares to torture Winston with rats, he says the creatures sometimes attack the head and the eyes first and other times burrow through the cheeks and devour the tongue. In terror, Winston begs O'Brien to let the rats tear off Julia's face or strip her flesh to the bones rather than doing it to him.

Kissing/Sex/Homosexuality

The Party does not permit its members to marry for love or have sex for pleasure. They look upon sex as a "disgusting minor operation" and train people this way from childhood. Young Party members are urged to join the Anti-Sex league. Party leaders are working on a scientific way to abolish the orgasm altogether; they want that level of excitement and energy reserved for pro-Party sentiment. They fear losing control if men and women are permitted to form passionate relationships. Winston talks about his wife's rigidity and sexual "submission" to him so they could produce a child. He details a sexual encounter with an old prostitute.

The proles have no restrictions on sex and are even granted divorces. The Party produces pornographic, astrological and sensational literature and films for the proles in the Pornosec department. Julia worked there for a while, an indication that the Party felt she had good character.

Winston dreams of Julia flinging off her clothes. Later, they begin a secret love affair. She confesses she's had many and tells him she wants nothing to do with purity, virtue or goodness, but wants to be corrupt. For both, the affair is as much about rebellion against the Party as it is about sex and relationship. He comments on her breasts and about nakedness in general, and they have sex a number of times.

After his capture, Winston wonders if he'll be sent to a prison camp. He's heard they allow homosexuality, prostitution and illicit alcohol use. He confesses (dishonestly) to sexual perversion when he is being tortured.

Discussion Topics

Get free discussion questions for this book and others, at FocusOnTheFamily.com/discuss-books.

Additional Comments/Notes

Alcohol: Party members drink a sickly, oily spirit called Victory gin, which burns like nitric acid going down but eventually makes the world look more cheerful. When Julia and Winston visit O'Brien at his home, he gives them wine, a drink reserved for Inner Party members.

Smoking: Winston and other Party members smoke poorly made Victory cigarettes. One of Winston's co-workers smokes a pipe.

You can request a review of a title you can't find at reviewrequests@family.org.

Book reviews cover the content, themes and worldviews of fiction books, not their literary merit, and equip parents to decide whether a book is appropriate for their children. The inclusion of a book's review does not constitute an endorsement by Focus on the Family.

Episode Reviews

We hope this review was both interesting and useful. Please share it with family and friends who would benefit from it as well.

Get weekly e-news, Culture Clips & more!