Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Mass-achusetts Hysteria

Thanks to the Reverend Jimmy Jones and the God fearing Flavor-Aid guzzlers of Guyana, we all know the money quote: “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it”. Well Boston, take note.

In 1938, most of America was pissed off and slightly edgy about the ruckus going on across the pond with Adolf and his band of thugs. Everybody knew it was only a matter of time before we would be sucked in and nightly radio news reports from Britain solidified that fear. So picture a wooden house that has a gas leak (stay with me here), now allow me to introduce the spark: Orson Welles and the CBS Mercury Theatre On The Air doing a radio show that mimicked a late-breaking news report about Martians invading New Jersey. According to studies surrounding this event, approximately six million people heard the broadcast and 1.2 million were 'genuinely frightened'". When all was said and done there were some 12,000 newspaper articles about the broadcast on its impact and even Hitler chimed in and cited the panic, as "evidence of the decadence and corrupt condition of democracy.” CBS issued many apologies and Welles and his group got a slap on the wrist, but were not charged.

So I guess this particular recipe for pant-shitting en masse still works 70 years later. Except replace ominous extraterrestrials ginned up by a frightened listener’s imagination with what looks like a 7th grade science project displaying a cartoon character flipping the bird – boo! Nice connection there too, because we all know how much Muslim extremists like cartoons. Also, never mind the fact that these promotional devices graced the urban belly of several other metropolitan locales with not a peep. Lost is the romance of old radio and class, but now you got yourself a media-loving D.A. who thinks she’s Elliot Spitzer, a terminally un-hip first-responder team and two douche-bag slackers who obviously have an aversion to soap and sobriety. Throw in a big media conglomerate with money to burn and you have some more proof that as a society we really have jumped the shark.

1 comment:

Sharon said...

Brilliant-clearly a much needed download for you and an education in metaphors for me-and I thought ‘Il Postino” was good?!