For George Orwell, it was the year symbolic of an oncoming communist future.

For Apple, it was a year in which they were still the underdog.

Had Apple’s famous 1984 Superbowl commercial ran this year, the reaction would’ve been entirely different. In 1894, Apple was a fledgling company who made cheerful computers with monitors rounded to mirror the human face. Today, Apple is a giant whose products we have become completely reliant on and whose secrecy masks user data misuse and child labor in China.

Today’s Big Brother isn’t Microsoft–it’s Apple.

All Apple products are manufactured in China. We know this. We know that they’re probably made by people that are overworked and underpaid, but we don’t really know to what extent.  The company that manufactures all Apple products is called FoxCon. Mike Daisey went to FoxCon and reported a portion of what he saw on the podcast, This American Life. He went undercover and was able to observe FoxCon at work. From the floor, the most startling thing he reported was silence. 30,000 people work at FoxCon. 30,000 silent people, not allowed to talk on the line. 30,000 people who create no noise. No whirring machines sound because when human labor costs next to nothing, whatever can be done by hand–is.

Your iPhones are handmade in China.

Chinese people working 16 hour days without breaks handmade your Mac.

The precision that Apple is renowned for is made at the cost of 30,000 people’s fine motor skills.

1984 is here.

5 thoughts on “1984”

  1. You mention that if Apple’s commercial ran today the reaction would be completely different, and in comparison to Orwell’s 1984 I can see your argument. However, I am not so sure that I agree. Despite the popularity of Apple products, consumers still use their technology as a way to express themselves. Even after a summer filled with reports of Apple cloud hacking, few people think much about what information their iPhones and MacBooks stores and shares. The 1984 commercial is still a famous advertisement. While I’d hope that people might react differently now, do you think the everyday person pays enough attention to FoxConn and intense manual labor behind their iPhones to recognize that “1984 is here”?


    1. Rachel’s blog comparison of the podcast to George’ Orwell’s 1984 novel is both creative and relatable. As I listened to the podcast, I also noticed the similarities between the two: high security, cameras everywhere including the dorm rooms, and corporate/government secrecy. It’s interesting that she compares Apple to “Big Brother” in her blog. I disagree with this comparison as Big Brother had far more reach, control, and influence than Apple does. However, it does make the reader pause and question our relationship with Apple. Do we as a society ignore larger problems associated with Apple like the 1984 society ignores problems with Big Brother. My optimistic answer is no. We are very aware of what social, secrecy, and human labor issues Apple is connected to in our world. Yet, we continue to buy Apple products and invest in the “Apple cult.” This has left me feeling uneasy and somewhat doubtful of societal ethics.


  2. I do agree with Mary M that if Apple’s commercial ran today there would not be different reaction due to the social benefits Apple products provide to consumers in our society, who then are willing to turn a blind eye. As a culture we also find way to justify the negatives and in this case many people use the idea of China going through their manufacturing stage in their economy to further develop. In the podcast towards the end, they even said that “sweatshops are bad, but we should feel alright about them,” which shows that in the back of our minds we know about the poor working conditions, but the benefits are outweighing the negatives because this has become an effective way to fight poverty as it is a phase poor countries go through.


  3. In a lot of ways I agree with the statement that “1984 is here”, but I don’t think it has presented itself in the same way that Orwell did. While we do not have telescreens in our home like in Orwell’s dystopian world, we do have iPhones and iPads. Instead of the Party and Big Brother, we have the NSA. While I don’t think we will be destroying the English language anytime soon, I also think most people understand that our government has no problem with spying on anyone, even its own people.


  4. To Mary’s point: until the popularity of Apple’s products fades and customers begin to care about where their electronics come from, Apple will remain unscathed by these reports.


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