Media is perhaps the easiest way in controlling people into doing what is desired of them. Although very applicable in the real world, any dystopian novels show the severe effects of this weapon on unsuspecting citizens. It is an indirect form of control targeted at what the most elusive area: their minds. Mind control has always been an obsession for totalitarian governments: it plays with their fear and hints at the limits of their power. It is simple to monitor the everyday actions of a prisoner but can we really get into his head? Media seems to be the answer for this glitch.
A specific example of media slowly insinuating itself parasitically into people’s minds can be seen through the emails in the novel After by Francine Prose. The book takes place after a massacre of a nearby school, prompting the one the main protagonist (Tom) is attending, to implement a new authoritative figure charged with the safety of the students. The school sends out a series of emails to the parents with counsels of how to ‘help’ their children. However, the real malevolent nature of these emails starts to emerge when the school turns into a totalitarian society. Instead of standing up for their children, the adults passively watch the whole thing unfold, their minds under the influence of these mind-controlling emails. At first, the changes are subtle, but eventually they end up acting like robots, quoting and obeying the orders sent to them.
Media in this example is very effective in many ways: it strips away the sense of security the student have, alienate them from their parents, and indirectly insinuate itself into the homes of its subjects. By using the emails, the school is using the students to control the parents and but the other way around works as well. Media in dystopian societies functions to blind the citizens from the truth of their situation and filter into their everyday life. The parents become brainwashed and are thus are easier to manipulate. This gradual dehumanization is the perfect result. The citizens cannot think for themselves but can only obey and be used as tools in which to control others.