Twilight Zone The series Twilight Zone is a show that combines science fiction with society. Every episode ends with a shocking, unexpected twist. “The Monsters Are Due On Maple Street” is an episode that informs society about the fear of prejudice and hysteria. In this episode, a loud shadow in the sky passes through Maple Street. The shadow is actually a meteor. Unexpected and strange things start to happen like the electricity and cars turning off. The people who live on Maple become very curious on what the meteor has done to the neighbors living on the street.
A young boy named Tommy tells the adults that everything weird happening is because of the aliens from outer space, which he read about in a comic book. First the adults refuse to believe a child, but then they unconsciously start pointing fingers at who can and cannot be aliens. People were getting blamed for doing normal things such as insomnia, looking at stars, and experimenting on a radio, but then the neighbors would exaggerate and make it sound suspicious, strange and unusual. As the episode continues, the adults become paranoid and start to lose their minds.
This twilight zone episode reveals to us that the real monsters in society are ourselves. The neighbors were very eager to figure out who and what was the cause of the power outage. Neighbors would blame other neighbors for the outage because they believed that one person was an alien. Even though they had no proof or evidence, they used their words to blame the suspects. A ruckus of mass paranoia occurs and everyone believes that everyone is an alien. Tommy compares the real life situation to a similar problem he read in a comic book about aliens taking over a town.
The power outage that happened in the comic book is also occurring in real life. The adults do not believe him at first, but then they begin to slowly and senselessly start blaming other people for being an alien because they are afraid. Just like the media nowadays, mass paranoia affects everyone. The media exaggerates how something “might” happen and society makes it a big deal before anything is really happening. They cause concern and stress upon themselves because of what the media says. The central theme that exists within the episode is that words are mankind’s reatest weapon. I believe that words may not be able to physically hurt someone, but they can emotionally. Emotional pain is sometimes harder to endure than physical pain. In the neighborhood, some of the neighbors like Les Goodman are accused of being a suspect because his car randomly turned on, while everyone else’s didn’t start. Though he has no effect on the aliens, a woman claims that she has seen him look up at the sky late at night, as though he is waiting for something. She thinks he is waiting for the aliens or something from outer space.
Therefore Goodman becomes an immediate suspicion to all the neighbors. Everyone in the neighborhood is now more aware of him, claiming that his family isn’t human, but aliens. The woman was being the real monster to society because she had no idea what she was talking about and jumps to conclusion about Les Goodman. Since she made a comment that didn’t have supported evidence, she dug Les Goodman into a hole, making people think he is an alien because everyone starts to believe her. This episode conveys propaganda to the audience. Everyone is following everybody else’s opinion, and they are all being biased.
Just like in real life situations, propaganda occurs in the media. We are informed about a particular person’s point of view and their idea soaks up into our brain. Towards the end of the episode, all the neighbors are at their highest point of terrorization and fear. The mob starts to panic as they see a shadow figure approaching their neighborhood. Charlie assumes the shadow to be a monster. Therefore, he starts to act malicious and grabs a gun to shoot the shadow. Everyone comes near the monster and it turns out to be Pete Van Horn, who was one of the neighbors coming home from town.
The lights in Charlie’s house randomly turns on and everyone starts to tell him that is he held responsible for the death of Pete. He is now accused of being a monster because of the electricity in his house turning on, and a murder of an innocent man. Charlie was trying to protect his people, but he ends up accidently shooting a person. Everyone starts to blame him for being a monster and throws rocks at him. He did something to help, but since someone said that he is a monster for killing and having his light turn on, he is evil.
This shows that all of society is influenced to have the same viewpoint of a specific person, and sometimes they tend to follow counter-information. This episode challenges social convention because society expects us to have the same perception as what the government wants us to think. The people living on Maple were so afraid of what was happening that they believed anything anyone said. Steve has a radio in his garage which he has been working on by himself, and they assume that he is working on an odd electronic related to the aliens. Steve was one of the first to be suspicious of Les Goodman.
When Steve was blamed of being an alien, he becomes hypocritical and yells at the neighbors and tells them they are all standing out on the street to crucify someone, and that they are all set to find a scapegoat. Steve knows the only thing that will happen to the neighbors is that they will all become obsessed with finding a scapegoat, and in result they are going to eat each other up alive. Out of fear and panic, they all ruin themselves and each other. Like social convention, Steve and Les have done something odd and different, so they have been frowned upon.
In the beginning of the episode, everyone on Maple Street seems happy and cheerful. It is sunny outside and kids are playing in the streets. Once it gets darker at night, the power is still out and there is no more light outside or inside. Everyone is using candles for light, there are no more children around, and the streets seem very dark and mysterious. The neighbors are portrayed as mobs. They all stick together and follow each other wherever one goes. This shows society believing one person’s point of view. The people in the back of mob don’t have much to say.
Instead they just stand there and agree with the main person speaking because they are weak and do not have anything to say. Their faces have a shadow and it is dark surrounding all of them leaving making it very suspenseful. The darkness adds a more mysterious effect. The secretive aura of the darkness represents a hidden truth behind society’s lies that are spoken to us. In the end, no one living on Maple Street was an alien. Though there really was an alien, the aliens believe that stopping a few machines, putting the street in darkness will ruin the neighbors without the aliens even being round the humans. The aliens assume that all the neighbors will pick on the most dangerous enemy and be prejudice towards the enemy and to others. But as this all happens, the neighbors’ most dangerous enemy is actually themselves. They destroy themselves by panicking and finding a scapegoat. Everyone is torn apart and no one knows or believes the truth. “There are weapons that are simply thoughts, attitudes, prejudices, to be found only in the minds of men” is said at the end of the episode. I believe this quote sums up the people living on Maple Street perfectly.
Their suspicion destroyed the neighborhood to a point where an innocent life was taken. The people are all thoughtless and frightened and are lying just to protect themselves. Community and society are easily manipulated when they are terrorized. The government tries to takeover some of society’s weak minds and influences them to believe what is right and what is wrong. The community and society speaks before they think, even though sometimes it is not true. They create a monster to themselves because they are creating false facts for everyone to be concerned about.