Thursday, January 29, 2009

The Twilight Zone: Eye of the Beholder (1960)

I just recently watched an episode of the Twilight zone that I'd not seen in some years. It is one of the more famous episodes, and considers our notions of beauty. Particularly, the episode conveys the notion that physical beauty is in the eye of the beholder - that it is subjective.

But the episode - and I did not pick up on this when I was younger - is not simply a statement about the subjectivity of physical attractiveness.

This episode of the twilight zone powerfully conveys the idea that our concept of beauty is ENTIRELY a social construct. And not merely that, it is a social construct designed to impose conformity on the populace, to drown out divergence, to crush individuality and personal - as opposed to collective - purpose.

I post the episode here (from Yahoo video). Watch carefully and note how the social ideal of beauty is part of a broader effort on part of those in power to mold people into the "normal" state of conformity:


  1. I suspect that some aspects of commonly accepted human attractiveness are not socially constructed, but rather are biologically inherited, such as indicators of youth and health and prosperity.

  2. Thank you for your comment Scott.

    I think you are probably correct about that. I suspect that a core of what we find "beautiful" in other people is biologically inherited.

    Fit, healthy, young, and so on are among these.

    And yet it amazes how much peer pressure, advertising, entertainment, etc . . are able to tweek our notions of Beauty within that framework. Granted, there are limits, but social construction plays a big role.

    I think it is interesting to wonder how much is socially constructed and now much is biology. Interesting question!


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