TELEPRESENCE IN POPULAR CULTURE

A study of portrayals of presence

The Twilight Zone: The Lonely (2 of 2)

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ABOUT THE WORK

MEDIUM:

TV episode 

YEAR:

1959 

WRITER(S):

Rod Serling 

OWN COPY?

No 
 

ABOUT THE STORY

SUMMARY:

from imdb.com Author: Skeeter700 from British Columbia "The Lonely" tells the futuristic story of a man found guilty of murder. His sentence is to serve 50 years on a small asteroid alone. This episode starts with the convict looking forward to a supply ship arriving with provisions for him. This ship visits every 3 months and provide the convict with a brief break from the tedious boredom of his daily life. The captain of the supply ship feels sorry for the convict and believes his story of self-defense. We are told he often prolongs his stay on the asteroid to visit, play cards, and entertain this prisoner. But, on this visit, the captain leaves the convict with a present: a robot companion. The rest of the episode deals with the prisoners relationship with the robot. This  

ERA/YEAR:

Distant future 

CHARACTERISTICS
OF WORLD:

When convicted of a crime, criminals must serve time on an asteroid. Robots are very advanceed, and look human. 
 
ABOUT THE PRESENCE-EVOKING TECHNOLOGY
NAME:
Alicia 
DESCRIPTION:
Alicia is a robot. She appears human, has a human life span, and interacts as though she was human. She is mobile, and learns from Jack, deveopling her own emotions. She acts submissve and helpful. Jack falls in love with her. 
NATURE OF TASK OR ACTIVITY:
Jack interacts with her during his daily routine on the asteroid. They play chess and presumably do other things. 
PERFORMANCE OF THE TECHNOLOGY:
functions very well. 
 
ABOUT THE CREATORS OF THE TECHNOLOGY
DESCRIPTION:
unknown. 
MAJOR GOAL(S):
unknown, although it would seem to be entertainment and to stave off mental illness from lonliness. 
 
ABOUT THE PEOPLE WHO EXPERIENCE PRESENCE
DESCRIPTION:
Jack is a man convicted of murder, although later he is found innocent. He is white, male, and in his 30s or 40s. 
 
ABOUT THE PRESENCE EXPERIENCE
TYPE(S) OF PRESENCE:
Social presence 
DESCRIPTION:
He enjoys it. Although unaccepting at first, he comes to accepts Alicia as a woman and not a robot. He convinces himself she is real. 
USER AWARENESS:
yes, although later he is convinced she is human even though he knows she is not human. He wants to believe she is human. At the end, she is revealed to he a robot, to remind Jack. 
VALENCE:
At first, unpleasant. As he grows accostumed to her, he enjoys the experience. 
SPECIFIC RESPONSES:
physiological arousal,enjoyment, intense parasocial relationships, psychological desensitization. He falls in love with the robot and doesn't want to leave her. 
 
ABOUT THE CONSEQUENCES OF PRESENCE
LONG-TERM CONSEQUENCES:
He loves Alicia and does not want to leave her. He must choose between leaving the asteroid for Earth or her. The captiain shoots her in the face, revealing her inhumaness and Jack goes to Earth. Bittersweet. 
 
AND FINALLY...
OTHER INFORMATION:
another occasion of female robot as sex object, although this one had love involved. 
CODER NAME:
Amanda Scheiner 
CODER E-MAIL:
amandags@temple.edu 
CODER AFFILIATION:
Temple University 
DATE CODED:
4/22/2007 

 


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