John’s Story: A Brave New World Comparison

Dear readers,

“Good morrow” is the first quote we hear from John, the young man in Brave New World who discovers English people for the first time in his life. “A most unhappy gentleman,” he says, and goes on to tell his story. In the Brave New World Netflix UK show, is a bundle of curiosity. In the book, however, John is like, I hate twins, meaning he doesn’t like the uniform clones everywhere. But something really weird happened to John in the show. Let’s take a look at the highlights.

I can’t just talk about John without covering the gist of the whole show. I forgot to add that Helmholtz, Bernard’s friend, is a woman in the show as well. Like what the hell is with the producers changing up the source material in the name of a certain look? Like I understand the need for progress, but quit trying to change the source material.

With John, I kind of wanted the whole “Good morrow” thing to get crazier. John is depicted as an American, not a British born boy, but at least is decent enough to do some good. In the show, he warms up to one of the Epsilon Jack workers, CJack60, as he is called. The guy hands John a thing of meat, and he eats it. John is hanging out with Epsilons in the dining hall, something unheard of in the book. John originally said he hated “twins”, and wretched all over the grass. In other words, John got terribly sick because everybody looked alike. In the book, see the prior post on Linda, John hit one of the Delta boys by his dying mother’s bed. Well, John never hung out with Epsilons in the book, so why? Why was he hanging around Epsilons, and it seems CJack60 is going to be more prominent, but we gotta watch more. John watches a training video to understand the New London lifestyle, but in the book, he flies around and explores the city. The big problem with John in the book is the problematic portrayal of him speaking Zuni and other Native tongues, using the words in the stereotypical fashion. But then he laces his insults with Shakespeare. Weird. John tals to Lenina and calls her an “impudent strumpet” in a classic Elizabethan insult. He went off on her for being who she was, and taking off her clothes, she was about to just have him like civilized people do in the Brave New World, when he went off on her in the following manner: “Strumpet, fitchew.” No such insults were in the show, and what is with CJack60 hanging out with John at all? Perhaps John understood something about Epsilons we don’t understand. But will John fall for Lenina and then call her a whore? that’s the worst of it, but no Elizabethan insults could possibly have been hurled at her. In any case, stay tuned.

Beth

Introducing Brave New World Series Reviews: Episodes 1 and 2

CW Spoilers, details mentioned here are those involving the Peacock/Netflix show Brave New World, and compares to the original source material by Aldous Huxley. Please skip if you never read the book or seen the show, but read on if you want a serious review.

Dear readers,

I love old books, and there’s something important to note. Brave New World, the masterpiece by Aldous Huxley, has its own special category of awesomeness that I never fail to be dissatisfied by. First off, this book shows you a world utopian society with a scientific caste system, but beyond this, the show is awkwardly different from the source material. If you have read either book or seen the show episodes 1 and 2, read on. I will be hijacking my own blog to review the entire series a bit at a time. See the above CW (content warning) for details and a spoiler alert is in effect.

Here are the highlights from episodes 1 and 2, and how they compare to the book source material. Did the production company get this right?

  1. The beginning. In the book’s beginning, we meet the DHC, or the Director of Hatchery and Conditioning for Central London, which in the show is called New London. Nice job, guys. But that’s where the show is a bit different. We meet Lenina Crowne, whose name in the show is pronounced “laneena”, but I totally understand the alternate pronouncing of her name in book narrations I’ve scrolled through. In the book, Lenina is seen injecting her embryonic patients with the usual stuff, and there are students and guides there to see it all happen. However, in the show, it’s just Lenina, brunette instead of blonde (see next item) and she’s injecting embryos as per the usual thing she does. You don’t see Henry though till the middle and the first man Lenina meets in the book is Henry, but in the show, it’s our hero, Bernie or should I say, Bernard Marx. That’s a big deviation from the source materials.
  2. Lenina’s hair is blonde, and she’s pleasantly pretty in the book. In the show, as described to me through the UK descriptor, she’s brunette. Why the change? Is it that blondes aren’t pretty anymore?
  3. Savage Lands versus Savage Reservation. Oh, did I mention that savages are mentioned in both books and the show? In the book, however, Native Americans are not portrayed well, as was expected in the 1930s when Huxley wrote the source material, and John of course was a British kid dressing up in Native American attire, and we meet John when Lenina and Bernard went to the “Savage Reservations” in New Mexico in the book source material. How it deviates with the show! We meet John before Lenina boards the rocket to the Savage Lands, and the whole land is a theme park, not a fenced in reservation. John is not among Native Americans, but among people who choose to live a so called primitive existence. John also tries to go after a girl, but we don’t see this in the book until John tells his story to Bernard, and the story is a hopelessly tragic one. John wanted to marry a Native American girl, Kiakime, and the girl was actually married to Kothlu, a young Native boy. Sadly, this show iteration of John and Kia’s romance is worse. Instead of the Native born Kiakime, we get Madison, and instead of Kothlu, we get this stranger from the prop store. Madison is pregnant, and we don’t know who did this, and John is an outcast as in the original source material. See next item.
  4. The festival deviates from book to show. John’s status with the Natives (I refuse to use the word Savage here.) is so low because they called him names, chanted songs about him, the whole bit. What bothered me most was when John wanted to do a manhood ceremony with the young boys who were to become men, and they said the most hurtful words. “No, not for you, white hair, not for the son of the she-dog.” They referred to Linda, his mother, as such because of her frequent amatory encounters with their men. However, I wouldn’t go about calling women this because it’s rather hurtful, and to refer to her son as a white hair though was worse. In the show, John is told to stay away from Madison, and the guy says, in no uncertain terms, that he’d kill John if he got close to Madison. Linda, of course, objects. We meet John in the book during a drumming festival, and Lenina constantly babbles on about the drums, and she compares them to everything possible, including “a lower caste community sing.” We. haven’t gotten to the community sings, but I’ll suggest we talk about that soon.
  5. The actual festival in the show was a movie theater, and in that theater, there was a circus of course. This did not include drums, and there weren’t a bad smelling dude who guided Lenina and her compadre around. This seemed odd.
  6. The rest home. Like, am I going to tell you how deviant that whole thing in the show was? Lenina and Bernard go on a rocket to the “Savage Lands” which as I stated before is a theme park for primitive life. Now, let’s talk about the hotel. Bernard, as in the book, is an alpha plus. Taht’s the highest caste in the caste system in New London. Lenina is a beta plus, one step lower but that is to be expected if you want to stay true to the source material. They receive badges, something not mentioned in the book, but in the book they got keys. The rest house was a private thing, sort of. Now the hotel did have a balcony, and it was much more luxurious in the show. Weirder still, the bureaucrats Lenina and Bernard are treated to a bus tour of the Savage Lands. Now, let’s talk further about the meeting between Bernard and John.
  7. Bernard is unconscious when meeting John for the first time, but John meets Lenina after they’re hiding in the apartment in the Savage Lands. Let me tell you, the Savage Lands are about five centuries behind the 26th century, but this theme park is no playground. There’s a lot of violence and jealousy and a lot of what you might call the same behavior you’d see in Straight Out of Compton. It’s not the same as in the book, where there’s a highly charged electric fence, and all the Natives are fenced in and not allowed to leave. Lenina is sleeping when John meets her. But in the show, we have Bernard lying wounded, but unconscious, I’m sure he has to make it, and Lenina has her face cupped in John’s hand in the final scene of episode 2. One more detail.
  8. The Soma rations. Where to begin. The book has lots of instances of the drug known as “soma.” In the show, just about everybody has a soma dispenser, like where to we get creative with this? Soma is amazing, for the most part, in the book. It numbs your mind and it gives you that eternal “soma holiday” as is referenced many times over in Huxley’s source material. However, the dispensers are a show creation. When the people get their soma rations each day, the soma is dispensed to the lower classes in boxes, little boxes, and the boxes hold the little yellow pill in each compartment. Soma rations are given to everybody in the show, but in the show, everybody uses the trains. Where’s the flying? In the book, Henry and Bernard are flying in futuristic helicopters, aircrafts that go from settings like wasp to bumblebee and so on. However, only the lower castes, gamma on down, use the trains and the monorails are packed with them. Every day after the main day shifts are over, you see lines upon lines of these “twins” and so on, and they populate the trains thus far. There’s no helicopters mentioned throughout the show, but you do see futuristic aircrafts flying about New London. I”m impressed with the descriptions of such.

That’s about all the things I can think of for now. For more on Brave New World, watch for the next blog entry. I will also talk a little bit about it on this week’s forthcoming podcast episodes. I’ll do a couple episodes a week of a review, and moreover, this will be incomplete without it.

To find the show, you need either Peacock in the US or Netflix in the UK, but if you’re blind in the US, download from http://www.audiovault.net, and you will need to erase a desktop file in their folder because it messes up the zip archive. Thank you for reading, and enjoy the show if you can.

Beth

What BTTF (Back to the Future) Got Right and Wrong

Dear readers,

Who here has watched Back to the Future? Who wants to know what Biff is up to these days, or has a passing recollection of the Chicago Cubs breaking the Billie Goat curse? I don’t believe in baseball related curses, and never have I believed in the Curse of the Bambino, please don’t ask what that is if you can avoid it, but yes, Back to the Future got a few things right and wrong. Here’s what the predictions stated:

Hover boards are a thing, but not as big as one would predict in BTTF. When Hover Boards got invented in 2014 or 2015, one of those being a year that our hero, Marty, ends up traveling to, hover boards are everywhere. However, these hovering substitutes for skateboards got a bad rap when they were found to be explosive, fire hazards, whatever, in real life. Now they’re getting there, but a bit later than BTTF predicted.

The world series in baseball has been a contentious thing of dark and good legend, the stuff of reality being a lot weirder than BTTF has predicted. The Chicago Cubs managed a world series title in 2016, not 2015 as the headlines in BTTF predicted. Biff probably would have stolen that prediction because that’s just him. Biff is evil, weird, and altogether hard to deal with.

What Back to the Future does not truly predict in our future is the invention of myriad technologies that enable all of us to connect, to be together, to be able to do more than we ever could. Alexa, Siri, Google Assistant, and Bixby among other personal assistants, including Windows’ Cortana and Hound, all of these were invented around a scientific concept known as machine learning and artificial intelligence. Many people are very aware of this, but machine learning goes deeper. For example, BTTF did not truly predict the things that music services will be doing in our lifetime. LEt’s take a look at Apple Music, for example. Apple Music predicted that I would be looking for things I’m in the mood for, and there’s a whole tab there called “for you”, a place where I can look at new releases from my favorite artists, and it predicts with smart phone precision what I do want to hear, but when I pick things out, a row appears that says, “because you like this artist” or “because you like that artist.” Want a better explanation?

Let’s say you chose to add Millennium by the Backstreet Boys to your music library. I love the Backstreet Boys, and truth be told, still listen to their older and newer musics. When I added their albums and discography to my music library, a thing in the “for you” tab popped up and said, “Because you added Millennium/the Backstreet Boys”. Or it would say, “More like the Backstreet Boys”. Then, it would show you things like the music similar to the Backstreet Boys and their bubblegum pop genre of music. There you have it, what BTTF almost couldn’t have predicted.

The other thing that BTTF could have never predicted was the societal changes that could occur in the 1984 or 1985 future. What I want to see is clear: equal rights for all, no hate crime, etc., but 2015 saw the legalization of gay marriage before, transgender bathroom bills were the big topic, but then you had gun control, black lives matter not having been as big a movement as it is now, but there are many other things to think about. In BTTF and its weirdness. In one scene, Marty’s friend Jennifer gave him a note with a seven digit number, but not long after the 90s came to a close, we all went the way of ten digit dialing. Ugh. I hate it, hate it, but it does have its benefits. You can call out of state numbers with no long distance charges these days on a cell phone. Jennifer and Marty could still talk and text in our future, whatever the weather, but still, we have yet to invent the hyperloop.