Tag Archives: censorship

sci-fi or reality tv?

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 Rod Serling – working at home in Connecticut, 1956

anti-war and social justice activist, tv-writer, producer, narrator

and one of my idols. 

*In 1955, the miscarriage of justice in the Emmett Till case proved a galvanizing point in the Civil Rights Movement. Rod Serling, a 30-year-old rising star in a golden age of dramatic television, watched the events play out in the news. He believed firmly in the burgeoning medium’s power for social justice. “The writer’s role is to be a menacer of the public’s conscience,” Serling later said. “He must have a position, a point of view. He must see the arts as a vehicle of social criticism and he must focus the issues of his time.”

Soon after the trial concluded, Serling, riding off the success of his most well-received teleplay to date, felt compelled write a teleplay around the racism that led to Till’s murder. But the censorship that followed by advertisers and networks, fearful of blowback from white, Southern audiences, forced Serling to rethink his approach. His response, ultimately, was “The Twilight Zone,” the iconic sci-fi anthology series that spoke truth to the era’s social ills and tackled themes of prejudice, bigotry, nuclear fears, war, among so many others. At this point in history, the censors didn’t know what to make of this genre and he was free to deliver his message in a new way.

in honor of Rod Serling on national science fiction day,

who understood the power of the arts

as a way to communicate important messages. 

“there are weapons that are simply thoughts.

for the record, prejudices can kill and suspicion can destroy.”

-rod serling

 

credits: Getty Images, *Smithsonian Magazine

sticky business.

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i bought this gum

because is was $1.00 and it was sugarless.

 it also read “truth or dare – censored”

on the front of the package

and like a 13 year-old

i couldn’t resist seeing what it was all about.

inside the package

each piece of gum

was wrapped in a series

of fill-in-the-blank sentences

meant to be provocative in some way

with some of the words ‘censored’ out. 

i thought that i must have been the only one to buy this

because it was on sale and there was still a full shelf of it left

until i went to lunch and shared it with my friends

and one told me

that she had bought the “uncensored” version for her office.

what?  i mean #$% what?

“the only valid censorship of ideas is the right of people not to listen”

– tom smothers, 1960s