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This article has been published in: Ocula 22, Be cool. How a Cultural Icon is Born

author: Paolo Bertetti (Dipartimento di Scienze Sociali, Politiche, Cognitive, Università degli studi di Siena (IT))

The Invisible Icon. Big Brother from Fictional Icon to Cultural Icon

language: italian

publication date: April 2020

abstract: In George Orwell’s 1984, Big Brother is the inscrutable leader of Oceania. Thanks to his media pervasiveness, his image assumes, an iconic value, expression par excellence of control and power. However, he is an icon without reference: no one has ever really seen the Big Brother. He is a strongly iconic entity and at the same time he is not visible, perhaps not even existing: a mere representation of the apparatus of power. He is a fictional icon circulating first of all in the narrative universe of 1984. He emerges from the pages of the novel and becomes an icon (or meta-icon) also within contemporary culture: in the game of his translations across the media, through the reuses and reconfigurations to which he was subjected in the arts, in popular culture, even in advertising, the Orwellian character (or non-character) becomes the emblem of the vision: image of control and mass surveillance, but also - weakly - of spectator’s voyeurism (the TV program).

keywords: icona culturale, cultural icon, distopia, sorveglianza, controllo, george orwell, dystopia, surveillance, control,

➞ PDF [400Kb]

DOI: 10.12977/ocula2020-14

citation information: Paolo Bertetti, L’icona invisibile. Big Brother da icona finzionale a icona culturale, "Ocula", vol.21, n.22, pp.167-179, April 2020. DOI: 10.12977/ocula2020-14



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