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Old 03-25-2020, 05:40 PM
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What will Anthony from the Twilight Zone "Good Life" episode be like as an adult?


If you're not familiar with the episode, you can read a synopsis here, although I strongly recommend actually watching the episode as it is much more chilling that way:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/It%27s...OhWn82z8Qdfszg

With no one ever daring to correct him, and possessing omnipotent power, we can easily expect him to be a pretty awful adult. But I kind of think a subtext of this episode is the opposite of the message we often get from fiction about the purity and innocence of children: namely, that children can be pretty awful and that it's lucky for all of us that they don't have too much power before they mature morally.

So I'd actually suspect that he might mellow out a bit as an adult, although it will still be pretty ill-advised to cross him. And as he enters puberty, another complication will be that anyone who becomes the object of his romantic/sexual desire will be in a very tough spot (this notion was effectively explored in last year's movie
SPOILER:
Brightburn
although the addition of Anthony's telepathy makes it even more perilous as it's harder to just "play along" if someone is viscerally disgusted by him.

I would think at the very least, he will become a little more reluctant to take actions that threaten the food supply* of the town, and maybe hesitate before sending people to the "cornfield" if he doesn't want to run out of playmates. (I didn't get the sense that his omnipotence extended to making this a round trip as opposed to a one-way deal.)

*Does Anthony himself need food to survive? I would think so but I'm not sure. Could he simply create food like a Star Trek replicator? If not, maybe the prospects for him (or anyone in the town) even making it long enough for him to attain adulthood are dicey.
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Old 03-25-2020, 05:45 PM
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What will Anthony from the Twilight Zone "Good Life" episode be like as an adult?
Donald Trump...except actually able to make his thoughts become reality instead of just imagining he can order the universe around via Twitter.

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Old 03-25-2020, 05:46 PM
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^^^ What he said.
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Old 03-25-2020, 05:56 PM
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The Forrest Whitaker-hosted revival in the early 00s did a sequel episode "It's Still a Good Life". Short answer: He's still a dick and bully.
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(I didn't get the sense that his omnipotence extended to making this a round trip as opposed to a one-way deal.)
The twist this time is his daughter has the power to bring things back from the cornfield.

Last edited by ChockFullOfHeadyGoodness; 03-25-2020 at 05:57 PM.
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Old 03-25-2020, 06:48 PM
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Huh, I know they did a version in the '80s and then one again last year (or was it the year before?), but I wasn't aware of that reboot.


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Donald Trump...except actually able to make his thoughts become reality instead of just imagining he can order the universe around via Twitter.

Funny you should mention that, because what actually made me think of this was Mike Pesca saying in his latest Gist podcast that the way Bix and other experts at the daily briefings have to gingerly "handle" Trump reminds him of the way the adults in the Twilight Zone episode treat Anthony.
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Old 03-25-2020, 07:03 PM
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Well, Trump has sent a lot of people “to the cornfield”. And we haven’t heard from or about Sean Spicer (#LetHimMisspeak) since his bizarre Dancing With The Stars appearance, so...

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Old 03-25-2020, 07:18 PM
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Part of the plot was how easy it would be to kill him....even with his telepathy. In that ep, the dude turned into a jack in the box had him distracted and no one had the guts to move*

*Granted if you knock him out or kill him....what happens to the town??
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Old 03-25-2020, 07:23 PM
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Didn't it almost seemed implied in the original episode that the school teacher or whoever lady that visited had a connection to him, almost like she might be able to tame his behavior in the long-run? I felt a vibe like that but if a kid like that really existed he would eventually tire of anyone and resent them and then bang, straight to the cornfield.

Absolute power corrupts, absolutely.
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Old 03-25-2020, 07:35 PM
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I think maybe you mean Anthony's mom?


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*Granted if you knock him out or kill him....what happens to the town??

Good question, since it seemed they were suspended out in space or some kind of "Negative Zone" limbo.
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Old 03-25-2020, 08:01 PM
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How will he be?

Alone.

Everyone will have gone to the cornfield by the time he's 15. Think Charlie Evans with even less restraint.

It's not a story that can have a happy ending.


IMO he didn't move the town...somewhere. He destroyed everything but the town.
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Old 03-25-2020, 11:36 PM
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Yeah, IIRC Rod Serling's narration acknowledges that possibility.

Good call on his being like Charlie Evans (from the original Star Trek series).
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Old 03-26-2020, 02:31 AM
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I probably didn't see the TZ episode but I certainly remember the outstanding Jerome Bixby original. What happens with Tony? If he destroyed everything outside Peaksvile Ohio, I'd expect he explodes when puberty hits. Or he turns fenceposts and sheep into girls. Hilarity ensues.
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Old 03-26-2020, 07:47 AM
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Yeah, Charlie Evans or Kilgrave from Jessica Jones.

Grown up men-children with appetites and no ability - nor desire - to tame or control them. The ultimate solipsist. Nothing is real or counts except his own short-term wants.
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Old 03-26-2020, 07:55 AM
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I probably didn't see the TZ episode but I certainly remember the outstanding Jerome Bixby original. What happens with Tony? If he destroyed everything outside Peaksvile Ohio, I'd expect he explodes when puberty hits. Or he turns fenceposts and sheep into girls. Hilarity ensues.
Why?

Where's Hal when you need him?
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Old 03-26-2020, 08:21 AM
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Anthony Fremont became an astronaut and got lost in space.


Last edited by aceplace57; 03-26-2020 at 08:21 AM.
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Old 03-26-2020, 05:58 PM
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So none of us sees any possibility of some level of moral development? Being a little less self-centered as he gets older?
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Old 03-26-2020, 06:44 PM
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So none of us sees any possibility of some level of moral development? Being a little less self-centered as he gets older?
Why would he develop emotionally? Everyone tiptoes around him and fluffs his ego for (quite legitimate) fear of his wrath, and venting his infantile temper gets him everything he wants with zero consequence. Of course, he is eventually going to banish everyone ‘to the cornfield‘ and be left alone to entertain himself, and without anyone to torment or do his bidding, he’ll just become frustrated and angry but without reinforcement he’ll never come to see the fault in himself. He’s the perfect narcissist but without an unlimited audience of new strangers to manipulate.

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Old 03-26-2020, 06:51 PM
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So none of us sees any possibility of some level of moral development? Being a little less self-centered as he gets older?
How would that happen? All his life he's gotten to do or get whatever he wants whenever he wants without suffering any consequences. There's nobody who's sufficiently powerful to successfully defy him or even put up enough of a fight to make him later think twice about some of his decisions. The only hope is eventually he'll get so bored with being nearly omnipotent and omniscient that he'll withdraw into a perpetual state of apathy and lethargy thereby allowing the lesser beings around him to eke out a slightly less terrifying existence.
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Old 03-26-2020, 06:53 PM
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Right, but even kids raised by the best parents, with the ideal teachers, friends, etc., have very questionable moral outlooks at that young age, that simply require greater physiological brain development to outgrow. I take that to be part of the point of this episode: "think how scary it would be to place absolute power in the hands of a young child".

Piaget, Kohlberg, and Gilligan are major theorists in this area: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lawren...al_development

It's certainly plausible that Anthony's having cowed the adults into praising him all the time could stunt his development and prevent him from getting to some of the higher levels, but I don't see a reason to expect it to stay at the very lowest level as it appears to be in the episode.
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Old 03-26-2020, 07:46 PM
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Nature vs nurture argument. Can his brain change enough to grow a conscious? I vote no, but am unwilling to undertake a study.

Another example would be AM in the Ellison story "I Have No Mouth...". Absolute power with no checks. And by the end of the story, only one person left to torment.
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Old 03-26-2020, 09:52 PM
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Yes, great story. But of course AM does not have a human brain, nor the human instinct to be part of a social group.
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Old 03-27-2020, 02:39 AM
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So none of us sees any possibility of some level of moral development? Being a little less self-centered as he gets older?
Good judgment comes from experience. Experience comes from poor judgment. Right. We learn from our failures, not our successes,which only reinforce our prejudices. Anthony can only succeed and thus can never learn, whether or not he's human.
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Old 03-27-2020, 07:10 AM
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I see the events playing out as hinted by the ending of the old Twilight Zone movie.

The kid and the teacher drive off thru a field of flowers: She's going to be a positive influence on him and things will be better. But not exactly Eden either.
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Old 03-27-2020, 08:13 AM
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Good judgment comes from experience. Experience comes from poor judgment. Right. We learn from our failures, not our successes,which only reinforce our prejudices. Anthony can only succeed and thus can never learn, whether or not he's human.
Hmm.

I'd argue that moral consciousness derives from the child learning over time that other people are real and not just things to manipulate. Anthony can't possibly learn that because, to him, people ARE just things to manipulate.

Instead of learning his own humanity - and thus gaining empathy for fellow humans - he's going to learn that he's outside or above humanity. They're all just toys for him and therefore unworthy of being cared for or about.

"The any has no quarrel with the boot", after all. Best case scenario is that Anthony learn a sort of attachment caring for one or a few humans similar to humans with their pets.
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Old 03-27-2020, 06:34 PM
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See, there's a good analogy. We could be arbitrarily cruel to our pets (especially if we live alone and no one can see how we treat them), but I believe most people have too much compassion for that.

And I still wonder if, over time, Anthony would come to sense that having people warily "yes-man" him about everything is not as satisfying as having a true social-emotional relationship with them.
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Old 03-31-2020, 10:54 AM
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I'm an optimist at heart, and would like to think Anthony will mature and become less of a tyrant, but I just don't think that's human nature, and see very little that would nudge him in that direction. Bullies tend to remain bullies into adulthood from what I've seen, and a near-omnipotent bully would likely remain one.
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Old 03-31-2020, 11:13 AM
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Reading about the personal lives of Chinese emperors, Ottoman sultans, European monarchs, and antebellum plantation owners does not inspire confidence.

"Enlightened despots" cared about how History would judge them, compared to other monarchs. Anthony has no rivals to compete against, no peers whose opinions he needs to respect. There is nothing to give him any incentive to shape up.

Perhaps, when he hits puberty, he will try to impress pretty girls. More likely he will become a serial abuser.
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Old 03-31-2020, 11:24 AM
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The only way I can see for him to mature is for, first, there to be some particular villager who amuses him more than others, second, for that amusing villager to at some point annoy him enough to get cornfielded, and third, for him to later miss the amusement that villager offered, and thus regret having cornfielded him or her. That could start even a solipsist (which he must necessarily be) down a road of taking better care of his pets/toys.

Though, even as is, he's not entirely without empathy. The reason that everyone always says everything is good is because if anyone ever says anything is bad, Anthony changes it, usually with disastrous consequences. Which means that, at least to some degree, he does care what the others think, and doesn't want things to be what they consider bad.
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Old 03-31-2020, 02:59 PM
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Fair point. Maybe some insightful villager will eventually be able to make use of that in carefully, carefully helping Anthony grow up.
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Old 03-31-2020, 04:48 PM
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Quote:
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Why would he develop emotionally? Everyone tiptoes around him and fluffs his ego for (quite legitimate) fear of his wrath, and venting his infantile temper gets him everything he wants with zero consequence. Of course, he is eventually going to banish everyone ‘to the cornfield‘ and be left alone to entertain himself, and without anyone to torment or do his bidding, he’ll just become frustrated and angry but without reinforcement he’ll never come to see the fault in himself. He’s the perfect narcissist but without an unlimited audience of new strangers to manipulate.

Stranger
I disagree. Yes, he will keep conjuring new people to torment once everyone is banished. Rinse and repeat. I feel that over time he will become bored with this as there is no one to provide him with any emotional outlet. He will become incredibly miserable, and as a result will (VERY) slowly figure out that meaningful human contact is the way to go.
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Old 03-31-2020, 05:07 PM
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In the sequels to the TZ original, have other people in the village had kids, or will sooner or later everyone die off and leave Anthony by himself?
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Old 03-31-2020, 08:13 PM
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Perhaps, when he hits puberty, he will try to impress pretty girls. More likely he will become a serial abuser.
With who? There's like 20 people left...wherever they are. Where is he going to find pretty girls?

Unless he makes them up. Then it doesn't matter how he treats them, if they aren't real.
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Old 03-31-2020, 08:46 PM
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The people who make Westworld might dispute your premise.
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Old 03-31-2020, 08:48 PM
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I gotta admit I'm beginning to think it would be pretty awesome to have Anthony's powers.
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Old 04-01-2020, 10:54 AM
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I gotta admit I'm beginning to think it would be pretty awesome to have Anthony's powers.
That would be real good, real good!!!!!!!
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Old 04-01-2020, 11:30 AM
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Is conjuring up people known to be within his capabilities?
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Old 04-01-2020, 01:47 PM
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I gotta admit I'm beginning to think it would be pretty awesome to have Anthony's powers.
Power corrupts, and absolute power... is actually pretty awesome!
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Old 04-01-2020, 03:46 PM
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Is conjuring up people known to be within his capabilities?

It does seem to be a bit of a stretch, although it’s not inconceivably beyond his ability to turn someone into a Jack-in-the-Box.
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Old 04-01-2020, 04:29 PM
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Eh, I could turn someone into a Jack-in-the-Box, given a sharp saw and some duct tape. But I sure wouldn't be able to turn them back.
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Old 04-01-2020, 04:48 PM
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LOL!
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