File Size: 2811 KB
Print Length: 352 pages
Publisher: Hill and Wang (May 5, 2015)
Publication Date: May 5, 2015
It is extremely well researched and written, and a wealth of knowledge on the subject.
Within particular, I enjoyed the chapters on the succeeding and little known messages of War of the Worlds theme in Santiago, Chile - Quito, Republic of ecuador - and Buffalo, New York
Highly Recommended., Incredibly well written and researched- a major contribution to understanding the incident and Welles, The radio broadcast on Halloween Eve 1938 of _War of the Worlds_ is the stuff of legend; it was, according to the title of one of several dramatizations of the event, _The Night That Panicked America_. The fake newscast about invading Martians, the stories go, led thousands of Americans to flee their homes, some heading to safer territory, some grabbing their guns to do battle. These are good stories, and in some instances they are close to truth, however they do never represent what actually happened. A. Brad Schwartz has studied the broadcast as well as its aftermath for years, doing his mature honors thesis into it and writing about it for PBS. Now his interesting _Broadcast Hysteria: Orson Welles’s War of the Realms and the Art of Fake News_ (Hill and Wang) gives fresh paperwork of what really occurred. The story isn’t as dramatic as the “panic” versions, but it much more interesting with its new details, and with some lessons for us residents of the twentieth century who get our fake reports from sources more modern than radio plays.
The particular Mercury Theater radio shows were serious dramas transmit by CBS, and serious listeners enjoyed them. Schwartz has drawn on words listeners wrote to the FCC, CBS, and to Welles himself (some of these words only recently resurfaced) to analyze what really occurred as the broadcast developed. There were people who panicked, but Schwartz explains, “These panicked scenes of flight and near flight, which turned _War of the Worlds_ into the stuff of American legend, do happen, however they were very, very rare. ” There is no mass hysteria, no suicides, no potshots at a water tower which was mistaken for a towering Martian machine, and no highways clogged with cars. What did happen? Nicely, people listened to their radios - they either enjoyed the drama as good radio theater and a thrilling scary history, or they were afraid out of their thoughts and wanted all the news immediately. There were about six million listeners to the show, and about a million thought there was a genuine emergency, but the sort of emergency was not clear. Some do feel that Martians were arriving, and others thought a comet had made a disastrous impact. Some fine-tuning in the midst of the program could have gotten the impact that there was a natural disaster on the east coast, or some sort of invasion by human armies. They called each other to spread the stories, and they called the police, and they called the newspapers, but in almost every case, they were doing not panic. The general insufficient panic wasn’t a adequate story for the press at the time. It was far more fun to spread the stories of folks who hit the road to flee the Martians, and people are the stories that caught.
That millions of Americans panicked on hearing the broadcast turned into fake reports, thought of as real even by those who skepticism enough about the broadcast itself. Schwartz implies that this made people fret about government involvement in broadcasting, weakening the FCC. The panic is still invoked by people worried about how exactly manipulative broadcasters might be. There have recently been fake news Shows, like _Special Bulletin_ (1983), which was about a terrorist attack on Charleston, To the south Carolina. These shows did not produce the scares that the Mercury Theater do; Schwartz rightly points out that one of the causes is that the visual effects on television might be iffy, nevertheless the visual effects of radio are usually convincing, because people picture them for themselves. And we have had Jon Stewart, Stephen Colbert, and _The Onion_ to give us news that is not. Keep your airwaves open, is the lesson, and also: whether it be invading Martians, or Americans panicking in the streets: don’t believe everything you hear., " Broadcast Hysteria" is two different narratives. The very first is to describe the reality of the uproar that followed the Orson Welles Mercury Theater broadcast of " Battle of the Worlds", and the second is to pine for the " Golden Age" of radio stations broadcasting as it been with us at the time of the " War of the Worlds" broadcast. I actually do not think the author actually really makes a convincing link between the two strings of the narrative other than perhaps to claim that the FCC lost an opportunity by not using the " War of the Worlds" uproar as a pretext to increase its legislation of radio broadcasting to save the " Golden Age" of radio that permitted such a show to be broadcast (if you can follow that logic).
My favorite part of the book by far was chapter 4, a spellbinding description of the real broadcast of " Battle of the Worlds" followed by some of the more interesting letters to Orson Welles and the FCC by people who were scared by the transmit (and I have to give some credit here to Sean Runnette who narrated the music version of the book that I listened to). I actually also enjoyed the description of Orson Welles's fascinating career. And as for the ostensible subject of the book implied by the title, the writer does make a good situation that while the transmit might have temporarily scared up to a million people, there was no widespread foreboding among the listeners. The only actual widespread hysteria were the false reports of the widespread hysteria by the newspapers and then the subsequent concern about the supposed widespread foreboding by the pundits, although all that blew over pretty quickly as well (there were bigger concerns on the horizon in late 1938).
The other theme that the author earnings to throughout the publication and then devotes his last chapter to, is his concern over the loss in the Golden Age of broadcasting when radio stations advertising led to the development of more radio shows with mass appeal. I actually thought this part of the publication was weak and boring, and I was dissatisfied that the last part of the book was devoted to that issue. And here I must point out the biggest drawback in the book. The particular author makes his same points with very similar text over and over through the book. It's easily the most repetitive publication I've ever read or listened to.
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