Has the Twilight Zone Episode “The Obsolete Man” (Almost) Come True?

“Imagine, if you will, a time and place where there is no history because there are no books. There is no religion because there is no Bible. But even before the Bible was eliminated, God was disproven and banned from worship or mention. The only thing that exists is The State, run by a small group of elites who rule and judge according to their own beliefs, or lack thereof…”

Rod Serling wrote about this type of world in a 1961 episode of The Twilight Zone called, “The Obsolete Man“–and the similarities with today’s world are stunning.

The story, similar to Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451, takes place in a future totalitarian America. ‘Romney Wordsworth’ (played by Burgess Meredith) is on trial for the crime of being obsolete, unworthy of life. His occupation, a librarian, is considered a crime punishable by death, as is his belief in God. He is being prosecuted by the Chancellor, who deems that Wordsworth is not an asset to the State and thus needs to be eliminated.

The opening, narrated by Rod Serling:

You walk into this room at your own risk, because it leads to the future; not a future that will be, but one that might be. This is not a new world: It is simply an extension of what began in the old one. It has patterned itself after every dictator who has ever planted the ripping imprint of a boot on the pages of history since the beginning of time. It has refinements, technological advancements, and a more sophisticated approach to the destruction of human freedom. But like every one of the super states that preceded it, it has one iron rule: Logic is an enemy, and truth is a menace. (Camera switches to the convicted man) This is Mr. Romney Wordsworth, in his last forty-eight hours on Earth. He’s a citizen of the State, but will soon have to be eliminated, because he’s built out of flesh and because he has a mind. Mr. Romney Wordsworth, who will draw his last breaths in the Twilight Zone.

(Read more from “Has the Twilight Zone Episode “The Obsolete Man” (Almost) Come True?” HERE)

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