Before analyzing the role that propaganda can acquire in a dystopian novel, it is first important to define the term. Simply put, propaganda is the transmission of ideas and information, intended to incite a specific response or emotion within the receiver. Therefore, as you could assume, properly placed propaganda can profoundly help or hinder the respective “good” and “bad” characters of a dystopian novel based on its intention.
Candor, a dystopian novel by Pam Bachorz, is centered upon a small town characterized by white picket fences, ivy league students, respect for elders, and most importantly, absence of any disruptive behavior, illegal activity, or issues of any sort. Essentially, it is an ideal town, a “utopia” if you will; this “perfection” is the product of constant music infused with subliminal messages, feeding the townspeople cliches such as “Respectful space in every place” (Bachorz, 60) and “The great are never late” (Bachorz, 20). Infallibly, though, even in a seemingly perfectly crafted town, humans still have the ability for error, leading to a decent amount of propaganda reinforcing the “correct”, as seen by the town’s founder, way to live. For example, when graffiti suddenly appears in the perfect town, a campaign rapidly begins known as TAG, Teens Against Graffiti. TAG, as a unit, then constructs a propaganda-based initiative by painting the sidewalks with phrases reestablishing the importance of a clean, pretty environment in order to immediately halt any opinions the townspeople may have on graffiti, and instead supply the socially appropriate opinion to have.
However, as far as consequences go, what I think is even more important than the propaganda that is being created, is the propaganda that is not. I realize this is an odd way to look at it, but a dystopian society will not necessitate persuasion, through propaganda, unless there is a flaw in the system. In lieu of this, where propaganda is created highlights what is wrong and where it is not created portrays what is, comparatively, right. Through this, the author has an effective way to clearly show their personalized commentary on society. For Candor, there is minimal propaganda pertaining to the importance of education, as most of society tends to acknowledge this as a timeless fact; in contrast, there is a multitude of propaganda relating towards the pleasures of life, notably movies, art, games, etc, portraying it as bad and inferior to other aspects of life. This could then be interpreted as the author making commentary about the regard with which society places imagination and creation of the arts, looking down on them as a lesser way of life.
Essentially, then, the function of propaganda is to realign the dystopia with the blueprint it is designed to follow, as someone, or something, has disrupted its structure. It is important to note that in some circumstances, propaganda can adversely be used to align the dystopia instead with what is desired, shifting the society from the order it previously had, effectively overthrowing the entire system. Through this process then, by looking for the propaganda in a work of dystopian literature, the reader will be able to also find the societal critique the author has hidden in the novel, serving as an effective means of analysis and understanding. Analogous, it is similar to applying a magnifying glass to the work to focus on the relevance of the work, the dystopian elements and perspective.
Bachorz, Pam. Candor. Egmont USA, 2009.
Bachorz, Pam. Candor Book Trailer. Youtube, 9 Jul 2009. www.youtube.com/watch?v=oyXkLnLobho
“Homer Simpson Animated GIF”. Giphy. giphy.com/gifs/season-16-the-simpsons-16x33orieUe6ejxSFxYCXe.
“In this town, you are what you hear”. CrushingCinders: Odd Ramblings of an Obsessed Reader. 5 Mar 2015, www.crushingcinders.com/candorreview.