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Bullied by Ann, Stymied by Nancy: Deflating an Inflatable

Credit: Trump Baby/Cover Images

The Twilight Zone nailed it. I have been waiting a long time to write about this episode. Now, finally, the time is right. Although the details are not an exact match, there is enough in common with the present situation to do so. It’s all about facing fears and then deflating a hot-air balloon.

The episode appropriately enough is entitled The Fear and was televised on May, 29, 1964. It was the second to last televised episode of the series. It has not ranked among the best of the Twilight Zone episodes but it still turns out to be useful today. (Information on The Fear from https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0734638/reviews?ref_=tt_ov_rt)

Opening Narration

The major ingredient for any recipe for fear is the unknown. And there are two characters about to partake of the meal: Miss Charlotte Scott, a fashion editor, and Mr. Robert Franklin, a state trooper. And the third member of the party: the unknown, that has just landed a few hundred yards away. This person or thing is soon to be met. This is a mountain cabin, but it is also a clearing in the shadows known as the Twilight Zone. 

A New York City fashion editor has sought refuge in the woods after suffering a nervous breakdown. She is full of anger and belittles the “hicks” that live in the area. She resents having to have any contact with these lesser beings but the necessities of food [drone delivery via online ordering had not yet been invented!] forces her to speak to them in person and exchange pleasantries. One such passing comment leads the state trooper out to the remote cabin 30 miles from the nearest village to investigate suspicious lights and sounds.

The conversation between the red-state male and blue-state female does not go well. But he manages to cut through her pretensions by quoting Shakespeare. Serling adds small details which are not essential to the storyline itself but have an importance in their own right. Even her accent is refined haughty. Just when it looks like there may be a communication breakthrough, the lights and sounds from the surrounding forest begin again this time even stronger. This one isolated patch of civilization in the midst the wilderness is about to have a close encounter of the first, second, and third kind.

The source of this disturbance to the cosmic is, WAIT FOR IT, WAIT FOR IT, WAIT FOR IT, ILLEGAL ALIENS.  They are not only illegal aliens to the United States, they are illegal aliens to the planet earth. During the course of the night they subject the puny humans to one fear-inducing moment after another. Communication with the civilized world is severed.  The illegal aliens seem to be everywhere even on the roof!

Somehow despite all this commotion, the two humans then go to sleep. When the state trooper awakes his clothes are unmussed and his face is clean-shaven. Her clothes similarly are unwrinkled and her makeup is still perfectly applied. Oh well, it is after all the Twilight Zone!

In the light of day, the two tiny humans go outside to confront their fears. As far as special effects, the illegal alien is not very special and not very effective…except in terms of the story. If you have been to or seen the Macys’ Thanksgiving parade you were not likely to have been frightened by the hot air balloon towering over you. Nonetheless, within the context of the story, we are to imagine these people in dread fear of the illegal alien standing before them.

Some of the dialog leaves a little to be desired.

He calls her a charter member of the insufferable snobs.

She replies that not only is a charter member she is founder of the society of frightened people who cannot face the world.

He responds that being frightened is a normal natural human function. It is how you react to fear that really counts.

Is that What You Were Afraid of? (https://m.media-amazon.com/images)

He reacts to seeing the illegal alien by firing his hand gun. He shoots the inflatable again and again and then is nearly blown away by the air rushing out of it.

It’s a balloon. It’s a balloon.

Is that what we have been frightened of?

The scene then shifts to the small alien saucer responsible for the hot-air balloon. Amazingly, even though the now larger humans tower over the spacecraft, they can now hear what is being said inside. And lo and behold, these illegal aliens speak English. They hear the illegal aliens reporting back to the home office on the failure of the entire operation. They were unsuccessful in getting the humans to be frightened. They request immediate permission to depart.

Saucer must report failure entire operation ended by earthman’s failure to be frightened. Request permission from Great Leader to depart from earth.

In fact there is a desperate urgency to their plea.

Oh please Great Leader, let us depart now.

And depart they do only to find jobs at the nearest Trump resort.

Closing Narration

Fear, of course, is extremely relative. It depends on who can look down and who must look up. It depends on other vagaries, like the time, the mood, the darkness. But it’s been said before, with great validity, that the worst thing there is to fear is fear itself. Tonight’s tale of terror and tiny people on the Twilight Zone.

No this episode is not about the illegal aliens from Central America in their caravans invading the United States. They are not the hot-air inflatable. The big bag of wind is THE DONALD, the professional wrestling persona Little Donnee Wanee created so people would think of him as a swaggering macho man, the world’s greatest negotiator, the world’s greatest deal maker, the world’s greatest manager, the smartest person in the room, a very stable genius, the only one who can solve our problems. And then Ann bullied him, Nancy stymied him, and the great lie was exposed. All the hot air dissipated until what was left a deflated balloon who had been exposed as Caveman.

There is a scene in Inherit the Wind where the William Jennings Bryan character experiences the same moment of comeuppance.  He had arrived in town to great fanfare and celebration. All the people praised him. Say Hallelujah! Then he faced something that never occurred during the Republican primary presidential debates or the presidential debates in 2016: a moment of truth when he had to go into the arena and battle 1:1 with an adult who knew his stuff. By the time the Clarence Darrow character was through with his cross-examination, the people in audience had laughed at him and then stood in shock as they witnessed their hero deflate. “They laughed at me. They laughed at me,” he said.

Can you imagine what would happen if Mueller cross-examined Person #1? By comparison Whittaker would seem prepared and polished.

The air has been let out of THE DONALD and all that is left is Little Donnee Wanee.

My prediction as I previously wrote was that the government Trumpdown would end when Republican Senators decided to end it by providing veto-proof legislation. In an interview (“Mitch McConnell Got Everything He Wanted,” by Charles Homans, New York Times Magazine, January 27, 2019), Homans

had asked him {McConnell] whether, if a hypothetical shutdown-ending compromise had landed on his desk that would command a veto-proof majority in both his Senate and Pelosi’s House, ending the standoff over the protests of Trump but without the need for his signature, he would bring it up for a vote. “No,” he said.

By the time the article was published that assertion had proven false. Six Republican Senators had voted to end the government Trumpdown and more were likely to. Game over.

Elected Republicans are starting to look ahead instead of over their shoulders. They know what another “red wave” and “great victory” as they just had in 2016 would mean for them in 2020. It’s no fun being in the minority in the House of Representatives. It’s no fun losing the Senate majority either. Every Republican candidate in 2020 will have the toxic Trump taint on them like a veritable mark of Cain. Even without Mueller, the deflated inflatable bullied by Ann and stymied by Nancy has been exposed as weak, as a loser. The world already laughed at him in the General Assembly; what happens if the Republican base catches on that it has been conned?

There is a narrow window of opportunity for the Republican Party to attempt to right the ship. A party based on Robert E. Lee will never become a national party. Nor will a party based on fear. The Republican Party came in second in the presidential races in 1992, 1996, 2000, 2008, 2012, and 2016. It is gearing up to do so again in 2020. Even with Obama voters shifting to Republicans in 2016, Russian assistance, and a subpar Democratic candidate, the Republicans still lost by 2.8 million votes in 2016. Since then it has made no effort to expand its support and every effort to reduce it. There was an almost 9% spread in the House vote in 2018. Based on the House vote in 2018, the Electoral College vote would be 329 to 206 in 2020.  That is too big a gap to overcome for a minority candidate. Their Lord and Savior has been bullied by Ann, stymied by Nancy, and exposed by the Republican Senators who ended the government Trumpdown. Even rats know better than to stay on a sinking ship. But my prediction now as it always has been is that the Republicans will remain onboard even though THE DONALD has been exposed to be the Little Donnee Wanee he really is.

MAD DOG BANISHED TO THE CORNFIELDS: TWILIGHT ZONE EPISODE BECOMES REAL

Still Waiting! (For Better or Worse, December 15, 2018)

Rod Serling (and Gene Rodenberry) had an extraordinary ability to foretell our present situation. So many episodes seem to be about today it. In this blog, we turn to:

It’s a Good Life 

Written by Rod Serling
Directed by James Sheldon
Originally broadcast Nov. 3, 1961

The comments and descriptions on the websites about the episode tell the tale we are now living. They come from imdb.com and Wikipedia mixed with some comments of my own.

On an isolated family farm, a young boy with vast mental powers, but lacking emotional development, holds his terrified family in thrall to his every juvenile wish.

This is a portrayal of a nightmare. It’s one of those things where you hope you’ll wake up. It’s about an entire community that has been taken over by a child brat who is totally self-centered and sociopathic. He probably doesn’t realize the error of his ways. Any effort to educate him would result in being “sent to the cornfield.” This is a state of limbo. When your adversary has no conscience, he cannot be approached in a rational way. This story is about fear. Not only are the people under constant threat, the world the boy is creating is one that is becoming bleak and vacuous.

As you read the opening narration please keep in mind that the story is about an actual six-year old in mind and body and that he has actual supernatural powers. These two considerations mean the story is not an exact parallel to the real world but the fundamentals ring true as even in the real world an immature child can have great powers at his command.

Opening narration

Tonight’s story on The Twilight Zone is somewhat unique and calls for a different kind of introduction. This, as you may recognize, is a map of the United States, and there’s a little town there called Peaksville. On a given morning not too long ago, the rest of the world disappeared and Peaksville was left all alone. Its inhabitants were never sure whether the world was destroyed and only Peaksville left untouched or whether the village had somehow been taken away. They were, on the other hand, sure of one thing: the cause. A monster had arrived in the village. Just by using his mind, he took away the automobiles, the electricity, the machines because they displeased him and he moved an entire community back into the dark ages just by using his mind. Now I’d like to introduce you to some of the people in Peaksville, Ohio. This is Mr. Fremont. It’s in his farmhouse that the monster resides. This is Mrs. Fremont. And this is Aunt Amy, who probably had more control over the monster in the beginning than almost anyone. But one day she forgot. She began to sing aloud. Now, the monster doesn’t like singing, so his mind snapped at her, turned her into the smiling, vacant thing you’re looking at now. She sings no more. And you’ll note that the people in Peaksville, Ohio have to smile. They have to think happy thoughts and say happy things because, once displeased, the monster can wish them into a cornfield or change them into a grotesque, walking horror. This particular monster can read minds, you see. He knows every thought, he can feel every emotion. Oh yes, I did forget something, didn’t I? I forgot to introduce you to the monster. This is the monster. His name is Anthony Fremont. He’s six years old, with a cute little-boy face and blue, guileless eyes. But when those eyes look at you, you’d better start thinking happy thoughts, because the mind behind them is absolutely in charge. This is the Twilight Zone.

At the beginning of the show, the child is playing with his animals. He loves playing with his animals. They are right out of central casting. And since he likes science fiction he can makes his animals into any form he wants. They can even speak out of both sides of their mouths if he wants them to just as he does. But eventually the child tires of his toys who sometimes have minds of their own and they are disposed of, banished to the cornfields where this field of dreams is a nightmare.

The people live in fear of him, of the uncertainty, of never knowing what the child will say next. They constantly tell him how everything he does is “good,” the best ever, the greatest ever whereas everything before him was the worst ever. Never having experienced any form of effective discipline, the child does not even understand that his actions are wrong. He thinks everyone should want to play on his team and that he has his pick of the best and the brightest in the land. He is confused when his father tells him that the neighbors are reluctant to let their children play with him and join his team after he sent several of his playmates to the cornfield.

One night each week, the child gives the townsfolk one hour of television, which he creates and projects onto the family TV set. The adults gather around in his living room, squirming uncomfortably as child shows them a vision of Fox and Friends with screaming dinosaur talking heads engaged in a gory battle. Unable to voice their real feelings, they tell the child that it was far better than what used to be on TV. Everything now is the greatest ever.

His aunt Amy whose brain had been “fixed,” says “I kind of liked it a little better when we had cities outside and could get real television.”
The child’s mother replies, “The child’s television is much better than anything we used to get.”
The child’s father adds: “Why it’s fine. Why Fox television is the best thing we have ever seen.”

After the program is over, the adults celebrate Dan Hollis’ birthday. He gets two presents from his wife: a bottle of brandy – which is one of only five left in the village – and a Perry Como record. Dan is eager to listen to the record, but he’s reminded by everyone that the child does not like singing and he must listen to it at home. Getting drunk from the brandy, he starts complaining about the miserable state of the town, not listening to the record, and no one singing “Happy Birthday” to him. The child at first ignores him after telling him to be quiet. Dan eventually snaps with repressed rage surfacing and confronts the child.

You monster you, you dirty little monster…. maybe some man in this room; some Republican with guts, somebody who is so sick to death of living in this kind of a place and willing to take a chance will sneak up behind you and lay something heavy across your skull and end this once and for all.
Somebody sneak up behind him. Somebody end this now….
Will somebody take a lamp or a bottle or something and end this.

The printed word cannot capture the intensity of the anguish of this emotionally wrought person who can no longer endure the reign of the child, who does not act anonymously or after the fact but face to face.  Aunt Amy tentatively reaches for a fireplace poker but no one has the courage to act. The child banishes him to the cornfield. The adults are horrified at what he had done but no one does anything,

Then Thomas Friedman said, “I believe that the only responsible choice for the Republican Party today is an intervention with the president that makes clear that if there is not a radical change in how he conducts himself — and I think that is unlikely — the party’s leadership will have no choice but to press for his resignation or join calls for his impeachment.” But Friedman’s words were as flat as his world and everyone at Fox just laughed.

The child then causes the stock market to drop and the snow to fall even though it’s summer and the crops have not been harvested. The father then smiles and tells the child in a terrified voice, “…But it’s good you’re making it snow. A real good thing. And tomorrow… tomorrow’s gonna be a… real good day!”

Is there anything more dangerous… than a spoiled, selfish, stuck-up little brat who always gets his way?

Closing narration

No comment here, no comment at all. We only wanted to introduce you to one of our very special citizens, little Anthony Fremont, age 6, who lives in a village called Peaksville, in a place that used to be Ohio. And, if by some strange chance, you should run across him, you had best think only good thoughts. Anything less than that is handled at your own risk, because if you do meet Anthony, you can be sure of one thing: you have entered The Twilight Zone.

How did Rod know?