Created By: ginsengaddict on May 17, 2011 Last Edited By: ginsengaddict on May 20, 2011

Big Brother Government

A government that seeks to control every aspect of it's citizens lives

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Trope
It would surprise me greatly if tvtropes has gone this long without this trope. But if it has indeed, then How Did We Miss This One??

Within a work, the government is a secretive and oppressive regime where everyone is afraid to speak out, for fear of being disappeared. They are a combination of the Police State (Order is enforced through extreme measures.), Surveillance State (Everyone is monitored), and Totalitarianism (Every aspect of citizen's lives is controlled by the state).

No free speech or free will is permitted. You are a mere cog in the system. Conform or die.

Will invariably feature a Secret Police.

Examples:

Comic Books Film Literature
  • 1984: The Ministry of Love
  • Fahrenheit451: Haven't read it, but I know it's about this in some way.
  • "Harrison Bergeron" by Kurt Vonnegut the govenmernt enforces the 211-213th amendments to the Constitution to make sure that everyone is equal in every way. If you're stronger than average, they make you wear weights to hinder you. If you're smarter, you have to wear special gear that basically gives you tinnitus to keep you from thinking. Etc.
Live-Action TV Real Life
Community Feedback Replies: 14
  • May 17, 2011
    Jordan
    Dystopia covers the examples, but you're right, it is an important designation. I wonder...
  • May 17, 2011
    Ghilz
  • May 17, 2011
    ginsengaddict
    ^ Kinda. That's definitely part of it. More of a Super Trope though.
  • May 18, 2011
    Stratadrake
    I'd rather call this Big Brother (pre-existing term) and move the existing article to the TV namespace.
  • May 18, 2011
    ginsengaddict
    ^ Agreed
  • May 18, 2011
    Ryusui
    We do need to be a bit more cautious naming examples, or else we run into Trope Decay. Some of these aren't quite Orwellian; the government in Equilibrium, for example, keeps its people in check less through surveillance and more through mandatory use of emotion-suppressing drugs and the destruction of all potentially emotion-inducing media. Brave New World, not mentioned here but easy to accidentally lump in, is the opposite: it keeps its people loyal and happy through its "free drugs and sex" culture (not to mention a kind of proto-eugenics). Fahrenheit451 is something of a cross between the two: the government keeps its people under control by keeping them mindlessly happy and destroying all literature.

    So yeah, we have to be careful what we define as "Orwellian". An Orwellian regime rules by instilling fear and paranoia, usually keeping the people productive through conflict or the threat of conflict.
  • May 18, 2011
    ginsengaddict
    Stratadrake is correct. This would be better titled Big Brother Society. That covers all possible variations.
  • May 18, 2011
    SilentReverence
    Nowadays's USA seems to fit the bill. The "nake-or-rape" airport scanning, wiretapping, the govt. helping corporations to judge people for piracy when they sing a song in the bathtub, ...
  • May 18, 2011
    Topazan
    Just an idea, but...

    Orwellian may be too vague a term. Maybe we should have separate tropes for Police State (We have this. Order is enforced through extreme measures.), Surveillance State (everyone is monitored), and Totalitarianism (Every aspect of citizen's lives is controlled by the state.

    The government of Nineteen Eighty Four would be all three.
  • May 18, 2011
    randomsurfer
    In the short story "Harrison Bergeron" by Kurt Vonnegut the govenmernt enforces the 211-213th amendments to the Constitution to make sure that everyone is equal in every way. If you're stronger than average, they make you wear weights to hinder you. If you're smarter, you have to wear special gear that basically gives you tinnitus to keep you from thinking. Etc.
  • May 18, 2011
    ginsengaddict
    ^^ 1984 is the most important example so far. But more importantly, you've illustrated exactly what the trope is.

    Can I take your comment and morph it into part of the description?
  • May 18, 2011
    Topazan
    Go for it.
  • May 18, 2011
    ginsengaddict
    Now has a better description, thanks to Topazan. Added some more examples and formatting.

    Coming along nicely.

    Point of interest: Stalin's Russia was definitely this, and probably a few other current governments as well (Indonesia, Burma, etc). But, since this is a decidedly negative trope, shall we:

    1. Allow Real Life examples?
    2. Only include historical Real Life examples?
    3. Exclude Real Life examples?
  • May 20, 2011
    Gatomon41
    Fahrenheit451 is a minor example: the government does take efforts to maniuplate history and control thought. However, it's not to the level of 1984 level of Totaltarism.
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