TELEPRESENCE IN POPULAR CULTURE

A study of portrayals of presence

The Twilight Zone: Steel

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ABOUT THE WORK

MEDIUM:

TV episode 

YEAR:

1963 

WRITER(S):

Richard Matheson (writer) Rod Serling (creator) 

OWN COPY?

No 
 

ABOUT THE STORY

SUMMARY:

from imdb.com Author: dougdoepke from Claremont,USA Man vs. robot. Not exactly a new idea in the science fiction repertoire. Here it gets a fresh start as Lee Marvin has to step in the ring against a fearsome B-7, with results that might surprise you. At this stage of his career, Lee Marvin was one of the most interesting actors around. Few could convey the authority or clarity of emotion that he could. Here those qualities are put to good use and it's hard to imagine the half-hour succeeding without him. As it stands, the episode is mildly involving because we're not sure how the unusual premise will play out. Marvin is a fight manager of an obsolete model android during a period in which boxing among humans has been outlawed. There are the usual sleazy types running the bouts that Marvin must deal with, and it's odd to see this model tough guy bowing and scraping so he can get a few bucks from them. Really noteworthy for the fine make-up job turning real people into convincing looking robots. Serling sees the events as a tribute to the human spirit even though the filming plays up the tacky futility of it all. Take your pick.  

ERA/YEAR:

Near future 

CHARACTERISTICS
OF WORLD:

Near future, 10 years after show aired, 1974. Boxing has been outlawed, unless robots are fighting. Boxing robots have been updated at least 7 times. Other than that, as far as we know the time period is pretty similar to normal 1974. 
 
ABOUT THE PRESENCE-EVOKING TECHNOLOGY
NAME:
Battling Maxmo, a B-2 boxing robot. 
DESCRIPTION:
Maxmo is a B-2 boxing robot, made of alumnium. He looks like a human boxer, but with a blank expression on his face. He moves somewhat stiffly. He cannot speak or express himself - he is a fighting machine. When not on, he is carted around on a dolly. He has 3 differernt modes, advance, defense, and automatic. He can move around the ring, but apparently not walk normally. He acts submissive and does not learn or evolve. 
NATURE OF TASK OR ACTIVITY:
Boxing and watching boxing. 
PERFORMANCE OF THE TECHNOLOGY:
It functions, but is old and outdated - it does not box as well as they want it to. 
 
ABOUT THE CREATORS OF THE TECHNOLOGY
DESCRIPTION:
unknown. 
MAJOR GOAL(S):
to entertain people and make money. 
 
ABOUT THE PEOPLE WHO EXPERIENCE PRESENCE
DESCRIPTION:
Two men work with Maxmo - white, somewhere between 30 and 50 years old. They are broke and trying to earn money through boxing Maxmo. The audience watching the bout is male and female, various ages, all white. 
 
ABOUT THE PRESENCE EXPERIENCE
TYPE(S) OF PRESENCE:
Social presence 
DESCRIPTION:
at one point, a human takes the place of Maxmo, and boxes against a B-7 robot. He is thoroughly beat up. The experience is harrowing, tough and merciless. Otherwise, interacting with the robot is boring - he does not speak or move unless told. 
USER AWARENESS:
yes. 
VALENCE:
enjoyable for those watching - unpleasant for the man boxing the robot. 
SPECIFIC RESPONSES:
physical pain, heightened emotions, excitement. 
 
ABOUT THE CONSEQUENCES OF PRESENCE
LONG-TERM CONSEQUENCES:
The man is badly beaten up, but with the money they earned, they vow to obtain a newer and better robot. 
 
AND FINALLY...
OTHER INFORMATION:
 
CODER NAME:
Amanda Scheiner 
CODER E-MAIL:
amandags@temple.edu 
CODER AFFILIATION:
Temple University 
DATE CODED:
4/1/2007 

 


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