Welcome to Brave New World
In 2020 the streaming service Peacock released a television adaptation of Brave New World; a dull affair that reduced a seminal work of science fiction to the filming of sexual orgies. The story becoming the vapid, hyper-sexualized trash it once critiqued. More interesting than the show itself is the media response to it.
At Verge Joshua Rivera titled his review “Brave New World has nothing to prove” remarking that the show felt “hopelessly out of date” (Rivera, 2020). He claims the “most damning thing about Brave New World” is that it “never makes a terribly compelling argument for why Huxley’s vision… is relevant today”. We live not enthralled in pleasure, but in misery as his last paragraph remarks:
“Brave New World rings false in the same simple way its novel does now: capitalism just got bigger and more inhumane. Misery is what we’ve optimized and produced at scale. Outrage drives us, and if there is a soma, we probably can’t afford it.” (Rivera, 2020).
Yet the line between pain and pleasure is ever thin. The greater the decadence the stronger the shame, and the stronger the shame the more one wants to retreat into pleasure. The more decadent the pleasure the more weakly self-centered one becomes. Fetishism is the ultimate form of narcissism; the projection of personal pleasure across all reality, the transformation of everything into pornography. Weather the fetish is clothing, features, drawing, submission, or inanimate objects the result is the same. Everyone is reduced to mere stimuli for someone else. What is leveling if not the reduction of whole social orders to stimuli for the fetish of the decline?
At Hollywood Reporter Inkoo Kang proclaims, “There’s no counting the number of crises currently plaguing America, but a hair-raising uniformity and orderliness among its people isn’t one of them.” Kang continues, “And yet here comes Peacock’s Brave New World to warn us of a world in which technology has ensured that there’s too much conformity, too much sharing, too many orgies (more on that soon). If creator David Wiener thought about why Aldous Huxley’s 1932 novel is relevant to 2020, viewers aren’t clued in on the answer.” (Kang, 2020). The issue with the modern world it seems is too much free thought and too little sex. Oh what wonders must await in this brave new era!
At Paste Jacob Oller describes:
“But showrunner David Wiener (Homecoming) has the misfortunate to see his Aldous Huxley adaptation debut during a time when the very real and dangerous concerns of a global populace couldn’t be further from the tenets listed during the show’s opening moments: “No privacy. No family. No monogamy.” Orgies all the time, sci-fi healthcare, and guaranteed employment? Brave New World’s bad timing is the least of its flaws, as the AAA series from Peacock is a foolish, dull, and cowardly take on a literary classic.” (Oller, 2020).
It seems many journalists cannot seem to understand the dangers of a populous controlled through pleasure. In 2018 Eva Wiseman wrote the article “Why disaffected young men need more pornography” for GQ. When faced with a generation where “53 per cent of 11- to 16-year-olds have seen explicit material online”, young people having warped views of sex from porn, and destruction of people’s relationships Wiseman can only muse, “Instead of accepting that our brains can’t deal with the future and switching the internet off, shouldn’t our response be to “rewire” our brains?” The cure is simple “[m]ore porn, from as many perspectives as possible”, “[m]ore conversation about sex at a younger age”, and “more stories of sex from a greater variety of viewpoints” (Wiseman, 2018). What Wiseman forgets is that humans made the machine and can turn it off at any time they just lack the will not too. What is really wanted then is for humans to rewire themselves to love their destructive pleasure seeking; if you can’t feel guilty about your sins are they even sins? Wiseman leaves us off with one final anecdote:
“In The Butterfly Effect, Ronson meets a porn producer commissioned to make a video of a woman sitting on the floor, saying into the camera, “You are loved.” Porn is so ubiquitous it has gone beyond sex and into therapy.” (Wiseman, 2018)
In a world of endless pleasure even normal human relationships are fetishized.
Rivera, J. (2020, July 16). Brave New World has nothing to prove. The Verge. https://www.theverge.com/21327442/brave-new-world-review-peacock-nbc https://web.archive.org/web/20200716193113/https://www.theverge.com/21327442/brave-new-world-review-peacock-nbc
Kang, I. (2020, July 14). ‘Brave New World’: TV Review. The Hollywood Reporter. https://www.hollywoodreporter.com/tv/tv-reviews/brave-new-world-review-1303112/ https://web.archive.org/web/20210613170242/https://www.hollywoodreporter.com/tv/tv-reviews/brave-new-world-review-1303112/
Oller, J. (2020, July 13). Peacock’s Brave New World Is a Mishandled Orgy of Bad Ideas. Paste. https://www.pastemagazine.com/tv/peacock/brave-new-world-tv-show-review/ https://web.archive.org/web/20210226102259/https://www.pastemagazine.com/tv/peacock/brave-new-world-tv-show-review/
Wiseman, E. (2018, November 12). Why disaffected young men need more pornography. GQ. https://www.gq-magazine.co.uk/article/young-men-pornography https://web.archive.org/web/20210612163548/https://www.gq-magazine.co.uk/article/young-men-pornography