Recently, late night on Sunday (no School the next day), I had the chance to “travel to another dimension …”
It was one of those Twilight Zone episodes which takes a look into “a future time,” in a classic episode entitled, “Number 12 Looks Just Like You.” It was another episode which saw me, in the wee hours of the morning, scrambling to find pen and paper, to make hurried notes or a quote from the show, before weariness overtook me.
“Number 12 Looks Just Like You” originally aired on January 24, 1964. That was … uh … 57 years ago.
This was an episode about “the government” wanting to make every citizen the same: Look the same, act the same, etc. This, of course, was “for their own good,” and “to help them.” Rod Serling, in his introduction, did a rarity: As you know, he would always use the word “future,” but never rarely mentions a year … In this introduction, Rod Serling stated that this show was “about a time in the future … let’s say the year 2000 …”
In order for every citizen to “conform,” they must, at the age of 19, undergo an operation, which would physically change the person to “Number 1, Number 2,” etc. There was a limited number of choices, all “government approved,” each beautiful or handsome, and it was a requirement for all citizens. They were “free to choose,” … as long as they chose one of the accepted numbers.
Enter Marilyn Cuberle, an independent-minded young lady (played by Collin Wilcox), who is finishing her 18th year, and doesn’t want to “be like everyone else.” She is perfectly happy the way she is, and refuses to undergo the operation. Of course, everyone else tries to convince her otherwise. I mean … why wouldn’t she want to be like everyone else? Why wouldn’t she want to be beautiful … like everyone else?
Note: I especially enjoyed Richard Long (remember “The Big Valley,” “Nanny and the Professor” and a host of guest-starring roles), who played multiple characters in this episode. Of course, they were “different” people … but, remember, everyone looked the same … and, there seemed to be fewer choices for men … so, Richard Long was Marilyn’s Father, and the doctor who would conduct the operation, and a famous psychiatrist from history.
Naturally, Marilyn’s best friend, Valerie, tries to convince Marilyn to undergo the transformation, and Valerie just can’t understand why Marilyn wants to just “be herself.”
To convince her, she asks questions like, “Why don’t you want to be beautiful?” And, “Why don’t you want to be like everyone else?”
Finally, frustrated, Valerie asked, “Why would you want to be a nobody?”
It was in response to this question that Marilyn gave the quote which drove me toward pen and paper:
“If everyone is the same … doesn’t that make everyone a nobody?”
Richard. Vincent. Rose.