(NBM, 2001)
™ and ©2001 Ted Rall

A well-known political cartoonist, Ted Rall tries his hand revising George Orwell’s dystopian novel 1984 four decades into the future. Extra time doesn’t mean our fate will be any better, just more sarcastic. Set firmly in the post-modern world of self-referential parody, 2024 is a world in which the corporation is Big Brother. Nations have become multilateral trade associations, and mega-merged conglomerations dominate daily life, work, and thought. Patriotism is equated with consumerism, and non-conformity leads to ostracism.

Sound familiar? A prescient parody of current crises of war and recession, this cynical satire serves up the humor hidden in white male liberal guilt. Protagonist Winston embodies how citizens have become complacent customers, obsessed with stock market statistics, desensitized to the demolition of privacy, and stimulated only by sex and selfishness.

Sound funny? Rall’s monochrome, two-dimensional style underscores his droll litany of catch phrases and unrelenting mockery of Western media culture. There’s no easy solution except the realization that you might as well like what you can’t fight. An implicit condemnation of readers everywhere, it is neither comforting nor alarmist. Oddly, in the end, you don’t know whether to laugh in self-satisfaction or cry in self-pity.

— Oliver Chin
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