Science fiction author Hugh Spencer (previously) has published an essay on how Rod Serling's activist views on human rights were embodied in The Twilight Zone, drawing on the practice of using fantastic fiction to evade social constraints, in the tradition of Gulliver's Travels (to say nothing of books like Pinocchio and Inferno).
Spencer uses Twilight Zone and Night Gallery episodes to show how Serling's activism influenced his storytelling, and how he learned to sneak "controversial" subjects past the network censors. Spencer argues that Serling's work is a kind of dramatic retelling of the UN's Universal Declaration of Human Rights, where the story and Serling's amazing monologues worked together to combine drama and exposition to make trenchant points related to hot-button current events.
Serling, Spencer reminds us, was a public political activist, who drew heat for refusing to take a loyalty oath. Science fiction remains an active source of political pushback, with shows like Black Mirror; it's awfully fitting that Jordan "Get Out" Peele will be running a rebooted Twilight Zone.
When we compare themes from vintage television programs with clauses from an international legal document we are engaged in much more than a curious categorization exercise. There is an almost intuitive appeal and intellectual impact when we view the artistry of The Twilight Zone and Night Gallery through the ethical lens of the UDHR.
The UDHR expresses values and principles that Rod Serling embraced as a writer, as a citizen of his country, and as a human being. Much of his work addresses the dangers of intolerance, prejudice, and systemic cruelty. It is not surprising that Serling used fiction, whether realist or magic-realist, in combination with real-world activism to oppose injustice and promote his political views.
Social Justice from the Twilight Zone: Rod Serling as Human Rights Activist
[Hugh AD Spencer/Dialogue]
Armalite created the AR-15, sold the rights to Colt in the fifties, and the design long ago emerged from patent and became widely-copied. The AR-15 itself will no longer be made for consumers by Colt, it says. It says they’re just not that popular among consumers and the company needs to focus on institutional sales. […]
John Tefteller is a well-known rare blues record collector. In 2013, Tefteller purchased “Alcohol and Jake Blues” by Tommy Johnson (1930), a very rare blues 78 rpm record, on eBay for $37,100. Tommy Johnson made five records for the Paramount label in 1929 and 1930. Johnson, unrelated to bluesman Robert Johnson, was a little known […]
Adrian Lamo is most famous for turning U.S. Army intelligence analyst and whistleblower Chelsea Manning in to the authorities, but was already well-known among hackers and journalists because of his penetration of The New York Times’ source database, subsequent conviction for the hack, and his sparkling personality. He died mysteriously last year in what many […]
Life isn’t getting any less hectic, and pressure cookers are a quick, healthy solution for a growing number of kitchens. But if you thought your Instant Pot was versatile, there’s a major upgrade on the market: The Yedi 9-in-1 Total Package Instant Programmable Pressure Cooker. If you’ve somehow never used a pressure cooker before, try […]
When it comes to data analytics or deep learning, there’s one language behind the apps and algorithms that power the biggest companies of today: Python. The best part about this tool is that as versatile as it is, it’s actually fairly easy to learn. But mastery? For that, you need more than just a beginners’ […]
Your smartphone’s GPS is a modern necessity for some trips, but how do you use it safely? It’s been a problem ever since phones went mobile. A certain phone mount even shelled out the money for a commercial during the Big Game, so clearly there’s a market for the solution. Turns out there are a […]