War of the Worlds

Orson Welles’ 1938 broadcast of War of the Worlds caused quite a stir. Welles’ adaptation of H.G. Wells’ 19th century novel of the same name was pure theatre, but believable. The History Channel gives the backstory to the national fright, during which latecomers to the prime-time radio broadcast panicked, thinking Martians were actually invading the earth. The Federal Communication Commission investigated the incident, but in the end, the only backlash was that networks agreed to be more careful about what they broadcast.

Is this responsibility? Is it censorship?

Are there situations in today’s world that seem utterly outrageous yet humans seem willing to believe, propagate, or disseminate? Interesting questions, to be sure…ones that Welles’ production brought to the forefront back in 1938, and Adolf Hitler underscored just one year later.

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