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Cynicism Within Political Narratives

Autor:   •  June 6, 2019  •  Book/Movie Report  •  2,343 Words (10 Pages)  •  1,344 Views

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Allison Fernald

J.R. Hudspeth

English 102

5 May 2019

Cynicism Within Political Narratives  

        It is no secret that major corporations impact our daily lives in many ways, but imagine if our ignorance levels to this dissipated so much we had little to no control over our own individuality. Everyone has unique opinions on what the world might be like given different circumstances. The diverse factors in which tend to heavily influence discrepancies in each of our own imaginative process is up for interpretation, that being said many of us follow the same line of conspiracies in these theoretical visions. The young Australian writer sets a variety of plots, in order to bring light upon different forms of political travesty in extreme scenarios. Barry focuses on big corporations and capitalistic ideals, this could be due to the fact he worked for Hewlett-Packard in coordination of writing his first novel, Syrup. Having worked for such a big company undoubtedly shows presence within Barry’s work, and in many ways is beneficial for providing a first-hand perspective. In Jennifer Government he specifically writes a setting where “People use the name of their employer as their surname” (Barry). Belonging to a company or corporation in such a visually possessive way, quite accurately sets the pace for how Barry intends to portray this state of radicals. Making workers into property, and thus dehumanizing them enough to moralize the corporation’s actions.

Barry uses writing to creatively explore his ideas of where we might be in an extreme capitalistic environment. Not everyone was on board with the authors vision, in fact he reveals that “The final book is 80,000 words long, and in total I cut 100,000 words from it. I don't like to think about this too much.” (Barry) Although the first draft of his book was scrutinized, Barry didn’t trash the whole idea; he kept the bones and continued to adapt more to what his audience wanted to see from the book. In the end Barry would never be able to please everyone, especially given he tends to find most pleasure in depicting sensitive subjects. This is not to say the author conforms to audience pressure, in some ways it could even be construed that he enjoys a healthy amount of thought provocation to his proposed ideals. While never straying too far from cynical humor, the majority of Barry’s work capitalizes on fluctuation in government regulation and societal roles.

Barry has a habit of finding solace in writing about restricted information, things most people tend to turn a blind eye to. He is no stranger to the inner working of big corporations or the control they have over our lives, giving him the upper hand to accurately depict such an extremist outlook. When asked about his own views, our author openly shared that “I'm not especially anti-capitalist. I don't think that abolishing the government would be a good move, but I don't want it running my life, either” (Barry). As usual the author keeps a light heart and good sense of humor, as he addresses his political views. Barry doesn’t let on to having any prominent political biases, which would lead him to be a good neutral author. A huge contributor to why the author doesn’t outwardly conform to specific points of view, very easily could be in direct relation to keeping his writing from being overbearing. Being overly outspoken about a certain view would cause much controversy, and even deter certain individuals from looking at his work as purely explorative.

Most writers develop their style throughout trial and error, in Barry’s case he found his passion early on. Specifically, when we look at the inner working of his novel, Jennifer Government, it projects a lot of what Barry may have interpreted during his time working within Hewlett-Packard. Most novels that follow the same extremist point of view generally are placed sometime in the future, heeding warning to consumers as to where our lives might be headed. Barry takes a different approach, stating “In truth, Jennifer Government is an alternate present story. I wanted to write a book set in an ultra-capitalist world, but didn't want to be saddled with laser guns and flying cars. So, I simply took the present-day world and tweaked the social structure” (Barry). This adds a certain level of thought provocation for his readers that most other authors are missing, due to its relatable nature this forces his audience to empathize with the situation to a further extent.

Barry is no stranger to outside criticism, he often finds ways to playfully accept the harsh realities of being a writer. When asked what sparked the idea for writing his book, Jennifer Government, he never claimed it to be that of originality. In fact our author found it to be comical that anyone was reading further into the idea behind the book, by saying “You would think that when you write a novel based on one of the more obvious premises of our time, you would be spared this, but no: I still get it. I almost feel embarrassed to call it an idea. Corporations taking over the world; it's not exactly a stretch” (Barry). The premise of Jennifer Government was never intended to spark a movement or change the world, the focus was rather to personalize an already overused storyline. Many people want to believe he wrote Jennifer Government to criticize globalization, when in fact Barry is not an anti-globalist and has never claimed to be (Wikipedia). His ideas purely stem from an imaginative point of view, and hold no relevance to Barry’s own perspective on the matter.

Many critics have been in agreeance that Barry’s writing contains a level of character that seems to be lacking in a lot of other novels, however this is not to say he doesn’t receive just as much negative feedback surrounding his heavy use of cynicism. One review goes as far as to say “Barry's book simply hasn't got the heart, depth, or humanity” (Eric Noonan). Many things could explain this opinion, one being the critic feels this way because Barry solely uses the base of a capitalistic society, he doesn’t place it in the future. If instead he changed this detail, the book would have been in many aspects classified as a “futuristic classic” but Barry specifically avoided conforming to this ultramodern outlook. On the other side of the spectrum, another critic analyzes the novel as “twisted, hilarious and terrifying vision of the near future, the world is run by giant corporations” (Good Reads). Simply put while this is a fictional story, it is not that ambitious to assume by turning a blind eye to big corporation it will inevitably lead them to having mass control of our society. This theme carries over into a lot of Barry’s other work as well, taking ideas that very easily could turn into a reality and intensifying them for entertainment purposes.  


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