Adrian Paul, an orc from Weta, Stan Lee and Kevin Sorbo were some of the attractions at Salt Lake Comic Con 2013
Rod Serling writes science fiction to hide and reveal the truth
Early in Rod Serling’s television career, Serling wrote a story about the case of Emmett Till. Till was a 14-year-old African American who was killed by two white men while Till was visiting Mississippi in 1955. His killers were exonerated and bragged about the murder of the boy.
When Serling submitted the script and tacitly admitted that it was about the Till case, CBS told him to change it, so that it did not resemble the Till case because Southerners applied economic pressure on CBS and U.S. Steel, which sponsored the show.
Serling found that addressing racism issues in American television in the late 1950s was fraught with censorship. The sponsor of a particular show even demanded the removal of Coca Cola bottles from the set because Coca Cola was too closely related to Southern Life.
The shows that he was writing at this time upset both the right, because of his treatment of racism, and the left, because of his treatment of one German character in “In the Presence of Mine Enemies” where Robert Redford portrays a sympathetic German in World War II.
The public outcry and the lack of courage on the networks’ parts led Serling to believe that he needed to approach important social issues from another view point. In spite of his limited experience in writing science fiction, Serling turned to the genre to convey important messages about racism, isolationism, and other social issues that would otherwise be ignored by television.
The Twilight Zone was the result of Serling’s frustration and exasperation. Serling only wanted to explore the truth of American society, but in order to do that, he had to hide the truth in stories that could be defended as pure fiction and could be ignored by those to dull to pick up on the shows metaphorical applications. “A Martian can say things that a Republican or Democrat can’t.” Sometimes, the greatest truth must be hidden in science fiction.