War of the Worlds

92.7 broadcast Orson Welles 1938 thriller, War of the Worlds, in which Martians attack New York City. Triggering panic for listeners who missed the disclaimers, “the broadcast revealed the way politicians could use the power of mass communications to create theatrical illusions, to manipulate the public”.


I have a friend who’s questioned whether or not NASA astronauts really landed on the moon. I was stunned by her skepticism – I watched it on tv! But historical reactions to simulations have always triggered such reactions, even into the 1990s and Milli Vanilli: “simulations had become commonplace, and attempts to use them to trick the public were the rule rather than the exception.”
It’s all about power: Ken Sanes (of Transparency) concludes: “we live in a time in which the ability to create deceptive simulations, especially for television, has become essential to the exercise of power. And the inability to see through these deceptions has become a form of powerlessness. Those who let themselves be taken in by the multiple deceptions of politics, news, advertising and public relations, are doomed, like the more gullible members of the radio audience in 1938, to play a role in other people’s dramas, while mistakenly believing that they are reacting to something genuine.”

One thought on “War of the Worlds”

  1. I think the quote really nail’s the topic on the head. People use the mass media into tricking the public even today. I think in the age of radio it was probably easier considering that was there only source of information. I remember my grandfather telling me about the night “War of the Worlds” was broadcast. He said that his mother was crying and praying thinking it was the end of the world. Although if you consider the times, they really had no other sources other than what the radio was saying. Now who’d to say the world wasn’t ending in 1938, you could only really go on the information being told to you. Although now it’s sort of common place to here something on the radio and go double check either on the Internet or TV. I remember my mom telling me about the night when John Lennon was killed. She was driving home when the story came over the radio. As soon as she got home, she ran in and saw that the story was indeed true. I think it’s just our nature now to double-check everything. This was the same scenario when 9/11 occurred. I couldn’t believe it so I just get checking the Internet then the TV and then the radio; it’s just our nature now.
    There are also some common examples of the media duping us. There is a video of NBC’s Michelle Kosinski getting busted on live TV exaggerating a flood on national TV. She basically is a boat reporting a story when two guys in the background come walking by revealing that the water is no deeper than ankle length. You could probably find the video on the Internet by typing, “Reporter busted exaggerating flood”. Another example was Ashlee Simpson getting busted on Saturday Night Live lip-synching. Although, to really show you that we are either conditioned into being duped or that we are just so used to it we don’t care anymore, she had the number 1 album a few weeks ago!!!
    I guess in the end the media just doesn’t seem to care because they’re always finding and reinventing new ways to fool us and while I can’t agree or disagree on the topic of the moon landing being faked, I can only tell you to keep an open mind because we have been duped easily in the past.

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