We watched it in class today. Yep, American television from the late 50's, hyperbolic alien hysteria at its finest. The kids have spent the past two days reading through the script of one episode (it's actually in their textbook!), and today, we viewed the first fifteen minutes.
(This particular segment was introduced by some British guy who gave a little background on the teleplay writer, Rod Serling. When the actual show began in all its black-and-white glory, one of the kids turned around, concern showing on his face. "Is it supposed to be like that?" Of course, kid! Color wasn't invented until the 80s!)
(Speaking of the 80s, sometimes I get really nostalgic for The Wonder Years. I do not watch TV or movies by myself ever, but if they ever release Wonder Years on DVD, you will probably find me enraptured on the couch for days, doing nothing but eating popcorn and watching the show that makes me think I was born in the wrong decade.)
The story, basically, follows Maple Street, USA, your classic small-town June-Cleaver community. When a spaceship passes overhead, the people living there begin freaking out, accusing one another of being aliens. Even though there are some type of extraterrestrial beings involved, all they do is cause a few lights to flicker, cars not to start. As suspicion builds, turning neighbor against neighbor, one man ends up dead, the others left to argue. The camera finally pans out to the aliens on a hilltop, discussing how easy it is to destroy humans--all they have to do is cause a power outage, and bam, the humans blame it on monsters, not realizing that in the process, they have become the monsters they fear.
Even though the episode itself is quite simplistic, it is the ending, succinct but deep, that hit me, that I hope hits each of the students with its truth: "The tools of conquest do not necessarily come with bombs and explosions and fallout. There are weapons that are simply thoughts, attitudes, prejudices--to be found only in the minds of men. For the record, prejudices can kill, and suspicion can destroy, and the thoughtless, frightened search for a scapegoat has a fallout all of its own for the children...and the children yet unborn. And the pity of it is that these things cannot be confined to...The Twilight Zone."
What do you know? TV is educational after all.