In the introduction to his thoughtful book Amusing Ourselves to Death: Public Discourse in an Age of Show Business, Neil Postman explains that the purpose of his book, published in 1985, was to reflect, not on Orwell’s chilling prophecy for the previous year, but on the slightly earlier vision of Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World, whose account of dystopia is not as well-known in our day, perhaps because it is more critical of the media than of government.
What Orwell feared were those who would ban books. What Huxley feared was that there would be no reason to ban a book, for there would be no one who wanted to read one. Orwell feared those who would deprive us of information. Huxley feared those who would give us so much that we would be reduced to passivity and egoism. Orwell feared that the truth would be concealed from us. Huxley feared the truth would be drowned in a sea of irrelevance. Orwell feared we would become a captive culture. Huxley feared we would become a trivial culture, preoccupied with some equivalent of the feelies, the orgy porgy, and the centrifugal bumblepuppy. As Huxley remarked in Brave New World Revisited, the civil libertarians and rationalists who are ever on the alert to oppose tyranny “failed to take into account man’s almost infinite appetite for distraction.” In 1984, Huxley added, people are controlled by inflicting pain. In Brave New World, they are controlled by inflicting pleasure. In short, Orwell feared that what we hate will ruin us. Huxley feared that what we love will ruin us.
— Kenneth Myers, from All God’s Children and Blue Suede Shoes, kindle location 2658