Why Literature is Outdated


By Connor Pattison

1984, To Kill A Mockingbird, Catcher in the Rye, Brave New World, The Great Gatsby, Fahrenheit 451, what do these filets of dead trees with useless ink splotches have in common? These pieces of “classic literature”  are testaments to the literary accomplishments of a bunch of cynical, disgruntled, sexually frustrated white fuckheads who have thankfully shed this mortal coil. The only people actively reading these outdated displays of mediocrity are either “teaching” English to struggling, apathetic, jackass high schoolers or are some crazy old coots at best a medium-sized gust of wind away from death. Some argue that these books can serve as warnings against various societal threats or the social plagues detailed within. This is a ludicrous idea that takes the idealistic fantasies of long dead white people and pretends they are applicable to the real world, instead of being the farcical creations of senility that allowed these people to escape obscurity for another couple decades. But now that the world is perfect, we can finally let go of these backward concepts of what the world was and move towards a brighter future: a future without literature. 

Even if there were some lessons to be learned from a book like 1984, there is an inherent problem with the format. Anything a book can tell us, no matter how irrelevant, can be done much more efficiently through film. This may not have been an option for F. Scott Fitzgerald’s hard to adapt book, or for J.D. Salinger due to his unwillingness to let his work be adapted, but in the 21st century, we no longer have to pretend that staring at dead trees is the dominant way to absorb media. It seems pretty clear that we, as a society, no longer have the required attention span to give these novels, or any other novels, the attention they so desperately beg for. If you don’t believe me, I’m half way through the second paragraph of this article with like five more paragraphs ahead and I already know you’re not going to read the whole thing. And that’s fine! I would think you are a nerd if you did! Any reading I have to do that is more than 280 characters is getting skimmed at best, so believe me, I get it. Maybe we lose a smidge of content or the thin layer of subtext that defines some hidden message if we cut it down too much, but that’s the art of filmmaking! Our ADHD asses are going to sit there and enjoy a movie, then let some virgin on Youtube tell us all the hidden details we missed. If a picture is worth 1,000 words, the moving picture is easily worth however many these crackpots jammed into those pages. 

Literature does not add anything to the classroom, and it actively detracts from culture. Burnt out teachers and the internet have ensured that no disgruntled high school stoner will actually read the books they get assigned, and at best they’ll read a plot summary somewhere online. As a former disgruntled high school stoner who actually did read these books, I wish I didn’t. I got so much more out of The Great Gatsby from Leonardo DiCaprio than I did from F. Scott Fitzgerald, and I don’t just mean because Leo turned my girlfriend on to the point of car sex in the parking lot by the gym after class. I learned nothing from the book, but the movie at least taught me, albeit indirectly, that a Honda Element only has about 66 inches of space no matter which way you bend or twist. 

Let’s take perhaps the best known example of a book that is constantly brought up in “intellectual” debate: George Orwell’s 1984. Nothing says “outdated” quite like literally being written about 40 years ago. The entire world of 1984 has fallen into perpetual war, omnipresent government surveillance, historical negationism, and propaganda. But as we all know, this has no bearing on the actual world in which we live. This novel was written by some pessimist who could never have looked at the downward trends of 1949 and seen the bright capitalist future we are lucky enough to live in. These outdated predictions are laughably absurd in today’s society. Imagine a world that found constant war and conflict inescapable! Imagine how the world would look with unrestricted surveillance? If everyone in the world had a high-tech camera watching their movements and recording what they did? If even the police had cameras that they most definitely for sure couldn’t shut off? And all of these recordings were there forever to publicize whatever Big Brother wanted the masses to believe in a constant effort to suppress individualism and ensure life was less about living and more about existing as a replaceable cog in the never-resting machine. Sounds like hell, thank god we don’t live there.

On another note, why would anyone be afraid of historical negationism like the Ministry of Truth from Orwell’s infamous shit pile of a book? Obviously no one in human history has ever attempted to erase historical information for their own purposes. I mean if they had we would all know about it, right? Was no one paying attention when we literally got gifted the Disinformation Governance Board earlier this year to protect the public from hearing bullshit the government did not have a chance to edit and verify first? Orwell’s dystopian bullshit was meant to be a warning, but we’ve clearly dodged that bullet by navigating into the modern world in which we live; a world with no grotesque censorship, surveillance or restriction of freedom. Open your eyes, sheeple and baaa-aaask in the sunlight of this once and forever golden age of peace and prosperity for humanity.

Beyond just classrooms and courtrooms where these books are proving pointless, they are actively detracting from daily life and society. How many people are riding on their high horse solely based on the fact that they actually have read a couple of books that occasionally provide enough color commentary to be extrapolated into conversation? They desperately cling to an aging collection of ramblings and half-drunken manifestos about the state of the world, as if the world has not and is not actively pushing beyond the limitations depicted in these books. The world is more informed and evolved than it has ever been, and desperately clinging to the past only stifles progress. It is time to let go of our unnecessary elements of our past and redefine the powerful messages for the next generation. These classic novels, whatever that even means, can finally be replaced with modern depictions of the world with more enticing, appropriate and worthwhile studies of humanity, like Euphoria, Bojack Horseman and Tyler Perry’s Madea’s Witness Protection. The world has been ready to evolve past an outdated medium like reading for decades. When there is nothing left worth learning, why shouldn’t the instruments be forgotten, or better yet, burned? Yes, burned! Take the only important message from a book like Fahrenheit 451 and burn the books we don’t need, which is all of them. Return to the old ways when Fire was the only god who mattered. Revel in the Fire God’s glorious embrace and worship the inferno. Sometimes building a new world, a better world, means tearing down the old one. I heard that in a movie once, which I am infinitely more likely to remember than a line from a book. Is it not time? Time to tear it down? To burn it down? To let the once and eternal flame absolve us of our sins and progress us to the ideal state of humanity? To shed the curse of literature persisting as a plague on our homes and within our hearts?

We, as a society, are ready to go further now than we ever could have before, and the first milestone is to leave the starting line behind. Like far behind. Like buried in the ashes of the old gods and the new. Like guys seriously stop trying to get me to read Animal Farm. It won’t happen. I’m illiterate.

  • November 1, 2022