Amy de Miceli
No One Has to Die Tomorrow
January 21, 2009

  The Twonky: a 1953 science fiction/satire about the influence of television over people.

The television has not been around long, but has quickly dug itself into our lives. The number of television sets inuse rose from 6,000 in 1946 to 12 million by 1951. Today nearly 98% of American homes have at least one.

Without Television some people describe feeling ‘lost’. Sadly the television has become a member of so many American families and few question its purpose, minimizing its existance it to nothing more than a harmless form of entertainment. But it is much more than that. It can create reality and regulate our thoughts, it can override our conscience and mandate right and wrong.

In 1953 a science fiction/satire was made about the influence of television over people called,The Twonky.

It begins with philosophy professor Kerry West, saying goodbye to his wife who just bought him a television set to "keep him company". He is unhappy about it and describes the event as diabolical.

His is not an ordinary television set, and it begins zapping cigarettes lit, cleaning dishes, creating counterfeit money and regulating Kerry’s coffee intake. The TV tries to be liked by its new owner, but Kerry is annoyed and thinks he’s gone mad. A friend offers to solve the problem by probing Kerry’s subconscious, "whats my subconscious got to do with that infernal television set?" And from that point on it is clear that the television has everything to do with the subconscious.

His friend Coach is a lonely old man, who stinks at his job, and likes to drink, but throughout the film he offers the most truth. Just before passing out drunk, Coach explains that he believes that the television set is a Twonky; "a Twonky is something, you do not know what it is, you do not know what it is…."

It soon becomes evident that Kerry’s thoughts are being controlled, subtly at first, as he chooses cola over coffee, but as he attempts to prepare a lecture for his class the Twonky’s persistence is no match for Kerry’s free will, and not unlike television programming of today, it zaps its own agenda into Kerry’s mind.

His lecture began: Individualism is the basis of all great art… ZAP… Kerry crosses it out, but begins again: Freedom of self expression is the…ZAP…the Twonky zaps those thoughts away. Kerry is confused, but sticking to his goal, he picks up books, "Liberty" and "The life of Abraham Lincoln" but the TV zaps them out of his hands too, allowing Kerry to read only a Romance novel, and he does.

No individual thoughts, no freedom of self expression, only fiction, that’s all that the Twonky would allow.

Everyone sent to destroy the television winds up totally mind controlled chanting, "I have no complaints". Coach explains what he thinks the Twonky might really be: "a form that would be quite safe and acceptable…I believe that the world in the future where this Twonky comes from every house, every family, has a Twonky of their own -to carry out the dictates of the super state…yes the super state…There’s one placed in every home to serve, to regulate every thought according to the dictates of the super state…He is now carrying out that function with you."

Unlike the modern man, Kerry still has his instincts intact and wants to destroy the television, "smash it to pieces!" But the Twonky wont go easily.

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After more madness that you might expect from a 1950’s sci-fi movie, Coach reveals the true nature of the TV set: "there’s no doubt that this robot is capable of creating a mental block in your head, an electric ray that enters the brain and eliminates that which the Twonky doesn’t want you to think, and it put ideas in your head". He also thinks the Twonky has the ability to change form, "maybe into Satan himself!" Coach has a plan to neutralize it…. but before he can save the day, the Twonky zaps him into complacency….

At the height of his distress, Kerry screams about "having the god given right to be wrong" as he breaks a chair over the television, but the Twonky is like a nanny for the super state inside his home, making sure he does what it wants him to do, it even zaps him sober.

What was meant as satire in 1953 has become a frightening reality. Few people can let go of the television, no matter how many warnings, they will sit, stare and imitate. And as the TV creates a mental block inside their heads, they will be drained and left in apathy with "no complaints".

Save yourself... Kill Your Television!

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