Friday, 12 April 2019

Twilight Zone Gets “Woke”: Identity Politics and Police Brutality Focal Point of Episode

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When actor/comedian Jordan Peele announced that he would be rebooting The Twilight Zone, fans of the show were likely skeptical that it would do the classic program any justice, as the complexities and talent captured in the 1960s program are difficult to replicate. But Peele’s Twilight Zone already is setting itself apart from its predecessor in that Peele seems to be more interested in being “woke” and adhering to identity politics than capturing the essence of the original program.

According to the Hollywood Reporter, the third episode of the Twilight Zone reboot has already entered into identity politics and “institutional racism.” The episode, entitled “Replay,” foces on a mother named Nina driving her son Dorian to a historically black college, but the trip is plagued by a racist white police officer who tails the family throughout their entire journey. The mother finds a camera that has the ability to rewind time, and she attempts to use it to get away from the police officer, but the racist officer continues to get the upper hand.

**Spoiler Alert**

In the end, Nina and Dorian arrive safely at the college campus and stand up to their oppressor. But in a twist that attempts to be Twilight Zone-esque, the show skips ahead years later and we see a happy Nina, Dorian, and Dorian’s daughter spending time together. Dorian steps out to run an errand and never returns because — you guessed it. He is killed by the police. You can’t escape police brutality in Peele’s Twilight Zone.

Peele has already left a bad taste in some people’s mouths by declaring only recently that he will never cast a “white dude” as the lead in one of his movies. He explains that while he likes white people, “I’ve seen that movie.”

Why the focus on race? The continual emphasis on identity politics has only served to further divide the country. And now it’s clear that it’s not limited to Peele’s movies, but has made its way into his reboot too.

The show’s direction is disappointing because The Twilight Zone, though it often forayed into politics, never took a left or right side, but focused instead on good versus evil, tyranny versus freedom. In truth, freedom is not a Left or Right issue, as both parties have betrayed the ideals of freedom and liberty. Rod Sterling knew that. The Twilight Zone was never divisive, though it was vehemently anti-communist. The show was ahead of its time, as it forecasted some of the dangers of technology that today’s society is experiencing first-hand. But you never walked away from an episode feeling offended — scared, maybe — but not offended.

Not so for Peele’s Twilight Zone, and it’s only episode three.

Whether his show will continue to tread the path most traveled in Hollywood remains to be seen. But if for no other reason, Peele should be inspired to produce a different type of show because he believes he is better than regurgitating the same tired Hollywood platitudes. It’s easy to write a show in which white people are the bad guys, police can’t be trusted, open borders are great, capitalism is evil, etc., because it will be well received in Hollywood and flush with award nominations. How about someone rise to the challenge of doing something different than what viewers have been inundated with in today’s popular culture? Write a show in which the government (not one particular party) is something to fear, too powerful, too tech-saavy, unconcerned about the people, a show in which people of all races are capable of evil, one that capitalizes on universal fears to keep the audience engaged. The Twilight Zone was that show, and the reboot could be too, if only Peele would shed the pressure to be “woke.”

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