The Obsolete Man

Matthew Gates 2m 548 #twilightzone

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A Look into the Value of Humanity and Mankind

Imagine a world run by a totalitarian state, a world where dictators have the power to end life as they please, to determine how the world runs, what jobs are important, and which jobs are obsolete. As the years pass, many jobs become obsolete and the people working those jobs are laid off with no other opportunity but to relearn skills, develop new skills, or further their education.

As robots and computers become smart enough to do our jobs, the only man that needs to be paid is the machine operator and repairman. Otherwise, a computer and robots are free workers, knowing nothing about slavery and questioning nothing because they are designed to do a specific job. Imagine if this world did not lay people off, but rather, deemed them completely useless and obsolete, no longer necessary in society, but rather taking up unneeded space. It forced people to end their lives because in the state’s eyes, they are not murdering anyone.

This imaginary world has been shown and although it is far from our reality, it is important to remember that it has happened and that it could happen again. It was dreamed up by both Orson Welles in 1984 and Rod Serling in the Twilight Zone. Stalin, Hitler, Mussolini, Zedong, Hussein, and countless other ruthless dictators made it a reality, murdering hundreds of thousands to millions of people they deemed unfit and having no worth in society.  For these dictators, as stated in The Obsolete Man: Logic is an enemy, and truth is a menace.

Everyone does serve a purpose and what makes us human are the most important aspects of mankind—art, philosophy, literature, freedom to live, and freedom of speech and religion—is why we exist.

This is one of my favorite Twilight Zone episodes, The Obsolete Man. Everyone should watch it at least once in their lifetime, twice if possible, to know the importance of what makes us human.

In a future totalitarian state, Romney Wordsworth (Burgess Meredith) is a man put on trial for the crime of being obsolete. His occupation as a librarian is a crime punishable by death, as the State has eliminated books and literacy. He believes in God, a crime also punishable by death, as the State claims to have proven that there is no God. He is prosecuted by the Chancellor (Fritz Weaver), who announces in front of the assembled court that Wordsworth, in not being an asset to the State, shall be liquidated.

After being convicted, Wordsworth is allowed to choose his method of execution. He cryptically requests that he be granted a personal assassin to whom he may privately disclose his preferred method of execution. He also requests that his execution be televised. Thinking that the spectacle will help show the public what happens when citizens become of no use to the State, the court grants both requests.



“Any state, any entity, any ideology that fails to recognize the worth, the dignity, the rights of man, that state is obsolete.” – Rob Serling, Twilight Zone, The Obsolete Man


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