(Make no mistake; there will be some discussion of LeBron James in this space later today.)
All this heightened solar activity has me thinking: why isn’t anyone taking advantage of this? It’s Halloween week, for crying out loud! I don’t care so much about sporadic cell phone usage, Arctic communications being cut off, or high frequency radio being wiped out at times. What better time to put a modern version of War of the Worlds out there? It’s the perfect confluence of world (I guess solar system) events, timing, and general unease.
I’ve always been fascinated by the original War of the Worlds broadcast. A link below tells the story of the impact it had on the nation. What’s most amazing to me is how much things have changed in the space of our grandparents’ lifetimes. Less than 70 years ago, the nation was so unsophisticated and dependent on one form of communication that a clearly identified radio play could spread unsubstantiated news reports and panic across the nation in less than an hour. Other than the sophistication and communication aspects, 1938 and 2003 aren’t much different. Then, they were still struggling to shake the Depression. War was a year away in Europe, and everyone feared what the US role would be. Pearl Harbor was three years away. Today, we’re coming out of a fairly deep recession. We’re in the midst of the war on terror. 9/11 and it’s resulting uneasiness is just two years in the past. As in 1938, we wonder what America’s role in the world is and what the implications for our health, safety, and security are.
A modern War of the Worlds would never work as effectively as the original. In 1938, you had the radio and nothing else. Outside urban areas, you generally had one choice for local radio coverage. If you wanted to listen to something else, you had to manually tune around to find a signal strong enough to fill the living room. Today, if say NBC decided to do a War of the Worlds, you have 100 other stations with different coverage proving whatever is on NBC is a movie. We’re pretty sure there aren’t any advanced life forms on Mars with the capability of launching an interplanetary invasion. Lip-synching entertainers, confidence scams, or urban myths can hoodwink us. But the days when an entire nation could get totally freaked out by a piece of fiction are long gone.
I wish some enterprising writer/producer living in a cheap apartment in LA took the massive releases of energy from the sun, added some sinister, imperialistic life form, and whipped up a piece of work that even if for only a few minutes, made my skin crawl just a little when I walk out to get the mail today and look up at the sun. Lacking that, I’ll dig up my MP3 of the original War of the Worlds this afternoon. I’ll imagine myself as a teenager in 1938, living on a farm somewhere far from a big city. I sit in front of the radio with my family, working on my lessons for school while gramps and granny listen to big band music. Suddenly, an announcer breaks in talking about explosions on Mars…