ParodySocial Commentary

Life is Stranger Than Fiction – social commentary in the time of COVID-19

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The great Rod Serling, the creator and head writer of The Twilight Zone, which ran from 1959 to 1964.

LATIN HORROR Before anything, let’s give a huge applause for our First Responders nationwide who are putting their lives on the line for us everyday! RESPECT. Also, our condolences to everyone who has lost a loved one to this tragic health crisis (both natural and man-made).

We are certain that the ‘shelter in place’ and ‘social distancing’ mandates have saved many lives during the catastrophic caronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. And while these measures are prudent and unquestionably necessary, the day-to-day quarantine, associated anxiety and restlessness is manifesting itself in less-than-desirable ways (the PTSD is gonna real, y’all). But it also has led to a surge of positive creative expression: from singers sharing their incredible voices from balconies, to disc jockeys doing marathon sessions to keep us popping and locking, to health-conscience Zumba instructors keeping us bouncing via live video broadcasts (Zoom, Facebook live, IG Live, etc.). The list is endless and inspiring—and we ain’t seen anything yet because the resilience of the human spirit always expands under pressure to meet the challenge of adversity. In short, we are all coping in the best way(s) we can.

A few weeks ago, LATIN HORROR’s managing editor, Christian A. Morán (aka ‘Monstrou’), pitched the idea of utilizing image captures from various episodes of Rod Serling‘s beloved TV series The Twilight Zone, and merging them with tropes from today’s zeitgeist to create memes that would bridge the social fabric of two generations: the turbulent 1960s, and the dysfunctional and exponentially maladjusted 2020s. The resulting set of tableaux successfully intersect the past with the present to demonstrate that social verity and truth are unassailable in any decade, or century.

Morán’s memes have been going out on a daily basis on social media, and we decided to aggregate the entire set in one place so our subscribers could see them side-by-side in all their totality as a curated expressionistic artform, and to archive the historically relevant content as part of our website’s journey during this worldwide crisis. Now we release the entire visual commentary on National Twilight Zone Day (May 11th).

This archive is also a tip-of-the-hat to Rod Serling’s creative mind that spawned the perfect blend of genre entertainment and evergreen social-justice commentary that flew in the face of the era’s status quo, and a not-so-subtle form of progressive resistance (it was the 60s, after all). Thus, artists holding a mirror up to power and authority is always in vogue, especially in the genre of horror.

Vita mirabilius fiction.

1) “The Masks“- is an episode about “a dying man who coerces his relatives into wearing grotesque masks that reflect their true personalities.”

Seriously people, the surgeon general said on Twitter, warning that a run on the masks could risk a shortage harmful to public health professionals.” – The New York Times

2) “The Shelter”- During a missile attack warning, a man and his family hide in their bunker refusing to let their neighbors in. All that stands between them all surviving is their barbaric self. “No moral, no message, no prophetic tract, just a simple statement of fact: for civilization to survive, the human race has to remain civilized. Tonight’s very small exercise in logic from the Twilight Zone.”

Cuomo says New York needs 30,000 ventilators in their battle against the pandemic. Trump has pointed out that ventilators have been delivered, and are sitting in storage.” – Daily News

3) “To Serve Man“- An alien race promises a peaceful society for mankind. A linguist and his team set out to translate the aliens’ language, using a book whose title they deduce is “To Serve Man”. “Origin: unknown. Motives? Therein hangs the tale, for in just a moment, we’re going to ask you to shake hands, figuratively, with a Christopher Columbus from another galaxy and another time.”

So my message is let’s get back to work, let’s get back to living. Let’s be smart about it and those of us who are 70-plus, we’ll take care of ourselves. But don’t sacrifice the country, don’t do that, don’t ruin this great America.” – Vanity Fair

4) “Nothing in the Dark“- An old woman living behind barricaded doors in an abandoned building and fearing that contact with the outside world will mean death. Now she’s faced with a grim decision—whether or not to open a door to help a young injured man. And in some strange and frightening way she knows that this seemingly ordinary door leads to the Twilight Zone.

Crowds of spring-breakers in Florida were criticized for ignoring social distancing guidelines and packing beaches in complete disregard of the potential risk.” – CBS News

5) “People Are Alike All Over”- An explorer crash lands on a neighboring planet only to discover that it’s inhabitant are just like him, a fearful human. “He will remain there in his cage with the running water and the electricity and the central heat as long as he lives.”

Verónica says that for days she has only been fed bread and water because the cooks stopped working due to the coronavirus pandemic. She is a young Salvadoran asylum seeker who has been detained in an immigration centre in the US.” – BBC News

6) “A Thing About Machines”- A bad-tempered man begins to sense that machines don’t like him. “I am a logical, rational, intelligent man. I know what I see. I know what I hear. And for the past three months, I’ve been seeing and hearing a collection of mechanical Frankensteinian monsters whose hole purposes is to destroy me!”

Fox News has been accused of violating Washington State’s Consumer Protection Act by falsely stating in February and March broadcasts that the novel coronavirus was a hoax, downplaying the crisis in a way that potentially undermined efforts to slow the spread of the disease.” – Forbes

7) “Caesar and Me”- A Ventriloquist isn’t having much luck finding a job. He’s falling behind in his rent and is now getting to the point where he’s running out of things to pawn. He’s also talking to his dummy, who has advice for him on how to get ahead. It’s not very good advice however. “A lethal dummy in the shape of a man. But everybody knows dummies can’t talk – unless, of course, they learn their vocabulary in The Twilight Zone.”

The U.S. Treasury Department ordered the Internal Revenue Service to print President Donald Trump’s name on the stimulus checks it is sending to millions of Americans nationwide, reports The Washington Post. The Treasury Department’s order could cause the checks to be delayed by several days or longer, senior agency officials told the publication.” – Newsweek

8) “The Old Man in the Cave”- In a post-apocalyptic settlement, the inhabitants’ survival is dependent on the advice of an unseen old man living in a nearby cave. One man acts as the town’s intermediary and takes the old man’s advice on safety on a batch of old contaminated canned goods. This dependence is tested when a band of soldiers descends on their town and upended the social order. Leading the townsfolk to disregarding their faith for greed.

A Phoenix-area man has died and his wife was in critical condition after the couple took chloroquine phosphate, an additive used to clean fish tanks that is also found in an anti-malaria medication touted by Donald Trump as a treatment for Covid-19.” – The Guardian

9) “The Howling Man“- A man comes upon an old monastery occupied by a “Truth” order that is holding a benign old man prisoner. He is told that the man is the devil, and now he must decide who to believe. The Devil: “That’s the strength of man. He makes his madness seem a harmless thing. The madness of a religious zealot. This is not a religious order,… These so-called Brothers of Truth, they’re outcast, misfits, cut off from the world because the world won’t have them… please. You must believe me. I don’t say they’re evil. I say they’re mad.”

A Virginia pastor who defied warnings about the danger of religious gatherings during the pandemic and vowed to keep preaching “unless I’m in jail or the hospital” died over the weekend after contracting Covid-19, his church said.” – The New York Times

10) “The Midnight Sun“- When the Earth falls out of orbit, two women try to cope with increasingly oppressive heat in a nearly abandoned city. “And all of man’s little devices to stir up the air are now no longer luxuries—they happen to be pitiful and panicky keys to survival. There is little or no infrastructure remaining, dangerous looters roam the streets and water is one commodity that is very much in demand.” The Radio Announcer: “Ladies and gentlemen, tomorrow you can fry eggs on sidewalks, heat up soup in the ocean and get help from wandering maniacs, if you choose… Ladies and gentlemen, I’m told that my departing from the script, might panic you”.

There’s still a serious shortage of testing for COVID-19 across the U.S., in spite of President Trump insisting the situation is improving. While COVID-19 testing criteria can vary depending on where you live, tests are being rationed in every state.” – NPR 

11) “The Little People“- On a desolate planet, two astronauts discover an entire society populated by incredibly small beings. One of them decides to rule the society as god, not knowing he will become “a victim of a delusion. In this case, the dream dies a little harder than the man. A small exercise in space psychology”. “You’re no God,… That’s not what you are at all! The only trouble is that… by now you’ve gotten them to believe in the Devil.”

Trump said that as president his “authority is total” over state reopenings, Cuomo went on a media tour, blasting Trump’s comments as “offensive” and “frankly ignorant” and saying that America had a president, not a king.” – NBC News

12) “Nightmare at 20,000 Feet“- A man, newly recovered from a nervous breakdown, becomes convinced that a monster only he sees is damaging the plane he’s flying in. His paranoia drives him to a desperate act, all “alone in this assurance. Happily, his conviction will not remain isolated too much longer, for happily, tangible manifestation is very often left as evidence of trespass, even from so intangible a quarter as the Twilight Zone.”

Dozens of cellphone towers and equipment boxes have been set aflame in Britain, apparently by people who believe 5G technology is helping to spread the coronavirus.” – NPR

A Los Angeles train engineer was arrested Wednesday for allegedly derailing a locomotive at high speed near the Navy hospital ship USNS Mercy — believing a conspiracy theory that the government is covering up the vessel’s true purpose, federal authorities said.” – New York Post

13) “The Dummy“- A Ventriloquist, Jerry is convinced that his dummy, Willie, is alive and evil. His agent thinks Jerry needs psychiatric help and tells him he has no future in the business if he doesn’t do something about his delusions. Jerry locks Willie in a trunk and makes plans for a new act with a new dummy. Too bad he didn’t clear those plans with Willie first. Jerry: “Patient feels helpless and manipulated by forces outside of his control… Patient goes from himself to a lifeless dummy. And then is unable to separate himself from the dummy.”

Trump vs. Biden is the 2020 election nightmare women like me warned America about, As both a Democrat and one of so many Americans who are raped in their lifetimes, I will be asked to sidestep my trauma to vote for a man who could very well be an abuser.” – NBC News

14) “The Monsters Are Due on Maple Street“- On a peaceful suburban street, strange occurrences and mysterious people stoke the residents’ paranoia to a disastrous intensity. Rod Serling: “The tools of conquest do not necessarily come with bombs and explosions and fallout. There are weapons that are simply thoughts, attitudes, prejudices…to be found only in the minds of men. For the record, prejudices can kill…and suspicion can destroy…and a thoughtless, frightened search for a scapegoat has a fallout all of its own – for the children and the children yet unborn. And the pity of it is that these things cannot be confined to the Twilight Zone.”

If he [Trump] can’t confine the suffering to his opponents, he is prepared to incite a culture war to distract his supporters.” – The Atlantic

15) “The Obsolete Man“- In a totalitarian society, a librarian is declared obsolete and sentenced to death. “This is not a new world, it is simply an extension of what began in the old one. It has patterned itself after every dictator who has ever planted the ripping imprint of a boot on the pages of history since the beginning of time. It has refinements, technological advances, and a more sophisticated approach to the destruction of human freedom. But like every one of the super-states that preceded it, it has one iron rule: logic is an enemy and truth is a menace.” Mr. Wordsworth, the librarian, a citizen of the State, will soon have to be eliminated, because he’s built out of flesh and because he has a mind.”

Edwin "El Miedo" Pagán
Edwin "El Miedo" Pagán is the Founder-In-Chief of LATIN HORROR. Pagán is a writer, filmmaker and life-long horror fan. In 2008 he founded LATIN HORROR, an online niche market website specializing in Latin-influenced horror, its documentation, and promotion as a distinct genre. Pagán is at the forefront of the Latin "Dark Creative Expressionist" movement, a term he coined as a means of identifying the millions of lost souls who live outside the rim of mainstream society and whose lifestyle and work is grounded in horror, the macabre, and gothic arts. Currently, he is penning a book entitled 'MIEDO - The History of Latin Horror.' Trivia: He is noted for ending his written correspondence with the offbeat salutation 'There will be SANGRE!'

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