I have a six hour video tape of Twilight Zone episodes from some holiday marathon of years’ past in my classroom. Whenever I have a special time slot after an assembly that ran too long or similar school activity that does not merit beginning a new lesson, I pull this tape out from my “Blockbuster Burris” storage cabinet and show an episode(s) to students. They love them! This is one classic TV series which has held up remarkably well over the years in holding students’ interest and curiosity. A particular favorite is “The Eye of the Beholder” (also titled “The Private World of Darkness.”)
First broadcast on November 11, 1960, I remember the tremendous impact this program provoked within me as an eight year old second grader. I recall the sheer bewildering horror as the Leader on the telescreen shouted:
“We know now that there must be a single purpose! A single norm! A single approach! A single entity of peoples! A single virtue! A single morality! A single frame of reference! A single philosophy of government! We must cut out all that is different like a cancerous growth! It is essential in this society that we not only have a norm, but that we conform to that norm! Differences weaken us! Variations destroy us! An incredible permissiveness to deviation from this norm is what has ended nations and brought them to their knees! Conformity we must worship and hold sacred! Conformity is the key to survival!”
Perhaps one can date my experiential formative libertarianism and hatred of the state from this seminal event.
Many of my students share this almost instinctual revulsion towards statist conformity when they view it also.
It remains one of the most powerful statements of individualism versus totalitarian collectivism ever to appear on network television.
3:57 pm on October 2, 2009 Email Charles Burris