May 27, 2006

wish me back from the cornfield

The Onion AV Club's "Inventory" is my new favorite feature. This week, Chris Dahlen covers 11 of Video Gaming's Strangest Moments. The last:
11. Second Life (2004)

The moment: Getting banished to "the cornfield"

In the largely player-made online world of Second Life, you can find no end of surreal behavior. But one of the game's strangest features comes when you misbehave—by cheating other players, hacking the server, or whatever—and the administrators decide to punish you. When that happens, your avatar has to spend time in "the cornfield"—a kind of limbo where the player wanders through endless rows of corn, while a 1940 film about juvenile delinquency plays on a nearby television set. But this surreal penalty hasn't deterred the hackers who keep crashing the game's server; maybe it's time for Linden Labs to skip to capital punishment.
Remarkably, Dahlen misses the obvious pop-culture reference. Banishment to the cornfield comes straight out of The Twilight Zone, episode 73, "It's a Good Life."
Six-year-old Anthony Fremont (Billy Mumy) is a monster. He has eliminated the rest of the world, or has whisked Peaksville, Ohio into its own dimension. He creates, mutates, and kills animals for his pleasure. He's eliminated electricity, grocery supplies, and television signals. He controls the weather. He terrorizes and controls the people of Peaksville by disfiguring them wishing them away, forever into "the cornfield" if they don’t think happy thoughts or otherwise act according to his wishes.
The adults in the episode kowtow to Anthony--a "very good boy"--in a way that suggests religious obeisance and fear of divine wrath, making "It's a Good Life" one of the most theologically subversive of all the Zones.

That's all for this weekend. In a frightening coincidence, I'm headed back to the farm 'til Monday. I'll be back if Anthony wants me back.


TeacherRefPoet said...

I'm not a huge fan of the movie, but "banished to the cornfield" leaps out at me as a Field of Dreams reference first.

Jim said...

The juvenile delinquency flick is the clincher. You dare argue with Wikipedia?

TeacherRefPoet said...

Nah. I'll just change it.