John Fiske said in “Reading the Popular” the popular text produces meanings that can become relevant in everyday life. The example of this can be seen taking under consideration cover of the book written by George Orwell – “1984”. The range of colors is very limited – the artist used only red, black, dull yellow and dark orange. The choice isn’t random as colors refer to the narrative and produce very strong meaning.
Even if people haven’t read the “1984” they still probably came across the slogan placed in the top part of the cover. “Big Brother is watching YOU!” – nowadays is mainly known from the famous TVshow, so the cover and book produced element which got popularised and its meaning can be perceived differently in various social groups (if someone doesn’t know the book they won’t know that their favourite TV show wasn’t the first one to invent the idea of Big Brother). There are also multiple poems and songs inspired by the book or the slogan – that shows us various meanings and elements produced by the culture.
The cover is a great example of mixing popular culture with high one. It’s kept in the pop art vibes but it bears as well strong similarities to the capitalist propaganda posters, which were really popular during Stalinist regime. It links the meaning to historical background to which it may refer. It suggest us that the cover is actually a satiric comment about the political situation back “then”-specifying the time isn’t needed as the man bears a strong similarity to Stalin. Just look at that moustache plus the choice of colors – coincidence? I think not! Additionally looking at the cover we can see that the man together with the red line behind him forms a cross – it may suggest an ending, death – probably death of our privacy as Big Brother is watching us!
Moreover the man looks like an evil robot so he isn’t looking after us, but just watching every our move, spying. He doesn’t have a pupil in his eyes which makes them look like tiny lights. He seems to be mad, but at the same time we can notice that he is smiling – does he enjoy watching us? If so… It makes the cover even creepier and adds more to the creation of the character – he is clearly a psychopath. Placing him in the middle of the picture implies that he is the Brother watching us and enjoying doing it as well.
It’s time for the colors! Red – color of blood, war and danger – a background of the part with slogan implies that the Brother watching us will bring nothing good. Dark red line behind the man on the cover refers to anger and leadership – if someone watches us every day he wants to take control over the population. Dark orange in the back of the man implies deceit and distrust – how can you trust somebody that wants to take over population = whole world. Black, main color when it comes to the “man part” – refers to death, mystery and fear. That would explain why it’s so hard to specifically say who is on the cover – the Big Brother? Someone who helps him? Or Stalin? There is no one,good answer to it, everyone can see it differently.