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Much of his fiction contains moral and political themes, and Serling publicly stated that it was the duty of writers to explore relevant and socially significant content in their work.
From Jonathan Swift’s book Gulliver’s Travels (1726, amended 1735) to Cory Doctorow’s Little Brother (2008) and the Canadian television series Orphan Black (2013-2017), politics have provided both cultural fuel and creative structures for speculative storytelling, most especially for the science fiction genre.
Rod Serling started his writing career as one of television’s “angry young men” from the medium’s first golden age in the 1950s and the author of many critically acclaimed realist dramas.
He found time to teach at Antioch College and was involved in political causes including the Unitarian Universalist Association, the American Civil Liberties Union, and campaigning for incumbent Pat Brown against Ronald Reagan in the California 1966 gubernatorial race (Zen).
Serling’s concerns about the political meaning and artistic merits of scripted television led to the creation of The Twilight Zone.
Rod Serling achieved critical acclaim in the First Golden Age of Television writing realist teleplays that express a strong moral sense and social consciousness.
With the decline of anthology drama at the close of the 1950s, Serling created The Twilight Zone, which would become a forum for telling relevant stories while circumventing commercial and bureaucratic interference.
The fictional world of science fiction continues to be reinterpreted, newly invented and widely attended to in our culture.
(vii) In other words, ongoing and active connections exist between politics and science fiction – with events, things, and ideas forming the basis of social polemics and serving as part of the fictional world where the stories take place.
Creating and communicating in such an intellectually and creatively bankrupt milieu filled with (in Minow’s words): “unbelievable families, blood and thunder, mayhem, violence, sadism, murder, western bad men, western good men, private eyes, gangsters, more violence and cartoons” offered little opportunity to tell stories of any value or artistic integrity.
After Minow’s speech, “a vast wasteland” became critical shorthand for the argument that television was undergoing an inevitable process of crass commercialism and the “dumbing down” of content to the lowest intellectual denominator.