What is the Role of Media in Harrison Bergeron?

Television is a powerful symbol which stresses the concept of equality and the enforcement of laws. The ballerinas performing on television are burdened with sashweights and bags of birdshot, and their faces were masked, so that no one, seeing a free and graceful gesture or a pretty face, would feel like something the cat drug in. One ballerina who reads the bulletin hides her warm, luminous, timeless melody of a voice, and instead, speaks in a grackle squawk.

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These ballerinas are forced to dance carrying heavy weights, wear hideous masks, and speak in a different voice in order to make others watching feel equal.

By showing television performers as equal to everyone else, the government sets the tone of sameness in every aspect of citizens’ lives. The government also uses television to show warnings when seriously dangerous people are on the loose. When Harrison escapes from jail, an emergency broadcast is made: Harrison Bergeron, age fourteen…has just escaped from jail…he is a genius and an athlete, is under-handicapped, and should be regarded as extremely dangerous.

A police photo of Harrison also flashes on screen; he is covered in heavy scraps of metal, thick wavy glasses, and tremendous earphones in order to obstruct his immense intelligence and athleticism. This photo is broadcasted to intimidate citizens, showing them the most extreme hindrances. While Harrison and the ballerina are gracefully dancing, Diana Moon Glampers storms in and shoots them dead: It was then that Diana Moon Glampers, the Handicapper General, came into the studio with a double-barreled ten-gauge shotgun. She fired twice, and the Emperor and the Empress were dead before they hit the floor.” This public punishment demonstrates the power the government holds over all its citizens. It provides a threatening example of what will happen if citizens do not follow the law.

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