Thursday, January 1, 2009

Twilight Zoning

On a mission of self-improvement, I decided I need to break up my steady diet of non-fiction (Caro's biography of Lyndon Johnson, Lukas' recount of forced bussing in Boston, Samantha Powers' biography of Sergio Vieira de Mello) with a novel. 

But who needs a novel when you've got the marathon broadcasts of the Twilight Zone on the SciFi Channel? 

I haven't seen these since I was a kid, and terrified by most of them, like the grotesque "The Masks" where a dying patriarch twists his greedy family members' faces to suit their disgusting personalities. 

Some of the episodes have lost their impact - their whole force was the twist that came at the end, and I remember almost all of them (like when the nurse takes the bandages off in episode "The Eye of the Beholder".) 

But some are timeless gems of imagination that rival any great piece of literature. 

The one I'm watching now is "Two". No dialogue, a couple speeches by Charles Bronson, and the silent Elizabeth Montgomery, who are the two remaining survivors of a human-made post-war apocalypse from opposing armies ( you can see this by their different uniforms.) 

The irony of the situation is not lost on Bronson's character, who is trying to persuade Montgomery's character he won't hurt her: "But I can see the only way of showing you my honorable intentions is by force." He pauses. "And I'm so terribly, terribly sick of fighting." 

It reminded me of the news media today, desperately trying to convince people that they need news, that it's relevant, and they keep cramming the same content with the same pundits talking the same lines over and over again. The newspapers, with their honorable intentions, are publishing with their last show of force. And they do seem terribly, terribly sick of fighting. 

The news media is going through a form of purgatory, and the phoenix will emerge from the ash. Because we need the media. To create wealth, to further industry and innovation - but we also need it because we're social and we seek out channels to establish new relationships, build on existing ones, and terminate others. We're curious about each other and what's going on in the world and in our own backyards. 

I suppose the news industry has entered its form of the Twilight Zone. 

This has been a love story about two lonely people. 

No comments: