Last evening (October 31, 20130), I watched a special on PBS about Orson Welles’ famous radio performance of The War of the Worlds on October 30, 1938. Now I have read about this many times over the years, I have read the H. G. Welles book, I saw the movie from 1954, and the movie from whenever (Tom Cruise, really stupid adaptation, but then Cruise thinks he can do everything better), and have had the record put out by a British recording studio of the show that has music by several, including the Moody Blues. I also have a talking book with Leonard Nimoy and Beverley from ST: TNG doing some readings. So I am well versed on the story from different folks.
(Oliver Platt did the narrative on this PBS Show – just an aside because Oliver Platt is another of those actors that I love to see in anything he does – 2012, The West Wing, A Time to Kill, Executive Decision.)
So I liked this show because it used actors in black-and-white and clothes of the era quoting letters and articles that were written by real people who were caught up in the frenzy.
OK, I love that Orson Welles became famous, and was accepted in Hollywood, because he was so good that it really scared people. I do wonder why folks didn’t recognize his voice because he had been doing this Mercury Theatre show for quite some time.
Those people who heard it from the beginning were well aware that it was a dramatic reading of a very excellent book. Those who panicked were apparently people who didn’t want to hear music, and changed their radio over after the beginning of the show, so didn’t hear the announcements, either at the beginning or at 45 minutes into the show. A lot of people sued CBS (Columbia Broadcasting SERVICE), but a judge threw all the cases out of court. Welles was sued, but I don’t think he had to pay anyone for the misunderstanding. I did love his “apology”, which was seen as just a really dramatic thing, because he was so loving that he did cause a panic. Very realistic.
In those days, obviously, there was no television, no social media, nothing but radio. People were used to living with panics, and it seems at least that radio stations were told they could no longer use the words “breaking news” or other bywords that are used for emergency messages, when in a dramatic presentation.
So here is the question: if an intelligent person hears something like this on a radio, why would they not switch to other stations to see if the “breaking news” is being played out elsewhere. Why stay stuck on one station. I know if I hear about a horrific event on television, I am going to go back and forth between channels to see what the coverage looks like elsewhere – if anything different is being told by various newscasters. So I see those who panicked as “sheeple”.
And it is very clear to me today that people who listen to only Fox News, or the radio heads who listen to the likes of Hannity, Limbaugh, et al, are just like those people. They hear something bad about Obama, or politicians in general, and they never listen to another channel, to see what everyone else is saying about the event. And I think people like them are just dumb, stupid, close-minded, whatever. You would think people would evolve, would change, would want to hear more than one side of a story. Instead, just like in 1938, they panic over one side of the story, and never listen to see if anyone else is telling it differently.
I’m just saying……………