H. G. Wells died this week in 1946. In honor of his death, we’re taking a look at the fake news broadcast that supposedly panicked many listeners.
Some people may know that H. G. Wells’ The War of the Worlds was originally released as a radio broadcast in 1938. Played out by a cast of actors and presented as though it were really taking place, The War of the Worlds broadcast caused mass panic, and many people believed aliens were actually invading New Jersey. Or at least that’s how the story goes.
Hg wells | Image via thought co
There’s some evidence of this. According to NPR‘s Radiolab, about one in twelve people were listening in, enough to constitute mass panic, and many ran from their homes to see what was happening. This matter is contested, however.
Slate argues that this one in twelve number is just out of those with their radios on, in addition to the fact that Wells’ masterpiece was competing with a particularly popular variety show. In a ratings survey shortly after it aired, most respondents referred to it as a “radio play”. Certainly not as a news broadcast.
Still, contemporary news papers seized the opportunity to discredit radio as an unreliable source, and claimed that masses of people had taken to the streets in panic. Sort of ironic. At least we got a few movies about all that hype. And we finally got to see Tom Cruise running for once.
Gif via Gifer
I kid. Somebody let that man rest. He must have other skills that are being neglected. At least put him on a motorcycle sometimes. Wait.
So was there an actual scare? Maybe. A little. Certainly it occurred to someone that it could be interpreted as real news. Ultimately, though, people knew what it was, and if they didn’t, they dismissed it as a prank. Still, pop culture myths are pernicious, and it’s interesting to imagine a world in which a broadcast could convince a nation that aliens had invaded.
Since everyone figured the world would end in 2012, what did writers and directors care if their 2019 predictions were incorrect? Clearly, the logic was this: if everyone’s dead in the Mayan apocalypse, no one can tell us that vampires DON’T farm humans for blood in the year 2019.
However, now that we’re in 2019, we can definitively say there’s been a delightful lack of blood farming, but that doesn’t actually mean this year won’t be apocalyptic. (After all, there was also no blood farming in 2018, which is about the only good thing we can say for it.) These four futuristic worlds got a lot wrong about 2019—that is, unless some serious shit goes down:
Gif Via Giphy.com
Katsuhiro Otomo‘s 1982 manga Akira, as well as its groundbreaking 1988 adaptation, depicts a colorful yet violent futuristic Tokyo in the distant aftermath of nuclear conflict. Set in 2019, the city has recovered mostly in the sense that everyone isn’t dead of radiation poisoning. The government is deeply corrupt, and gang violence prevails. While of course the world is substantially more violent, this isn’t true of Japan-Japan actually has fewer violent crimes in modern times than it did in the 80s. Given that the nation typically has fewer than ten gun deaths per year and one of the lowest murder rates in the entire world, this vision of the future has not yet come to pass. While the lack of aggressive Japanese biker gangs is probably a good thing… we’re a little disappointed there’s no telekinesis.
2. The True Lives of the Fabulous Killjoys & Danger Days
Image Via Darkhorsecomics.com
Killjoys, make some noise—even if the noise is distressed yelling. My Chemical Romance frontman Gerard Way‘s comic series, The True Lives of the Fabulous Killjoys, tells the story of the concept album Danger Days. Set in the California desert, a ragtag group of rebels tries to stop a totalitarian corporation… and fails? As Better Life Industries exerts increasing control over peoples’ lives, the rebellion simmers into nothing in the desert heat, and only the most mysterious surviving Killjoy can do something about it. The album takes place in 2019, while the comics take place a short while later. This is the most realistic of the dystopian futures—evil corporations aren’t exactly a stretch. But even the more futuristic elements—think laser guns and robot prostitutes—are less wild than you think. In 2018, China declared that it had invented an actual laser gun, though it’s uncertain whether or not this is true. And a sex robot brothel has actually already opened, though it was closed down two weeks afterwards.
3. The Island & Spares
Image Via Imdb.com
Michael Bay‘s 2005 movie The Island, believed to be loosely based on the M. M. Smith novel Spares, features a world that seems too contaminated to inhabit. Survivors of an unnamed disaster live in a grim compound, knowing they may never see the outside world. They have only one chance at freedom—a lottery which sends the winners to survive on the island. Does this premise sound flimsy? That’s because it is. An evil corporation has lied about the contamination in order to farm the survivors’ organs. And they’re not survivors either-instead, they’re generations of clones born to be harvested. While evil corporations really are behind pretty much everything, they haven’t grown thousands of clones to force into pregnancy for them… yet.
4. Blade Runner & Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?
Image Via Mentalfloss.com
Ridley Scott‘s 1982 film Blade Runner, an adaptation of Philip K. Dick‘s Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?is famously set in 2019—so famously, in fact, that My Chemical Romance set Danger Days in the same year as a reference. In futuristic Los Angeles, mercenaries hunt and kill bioengineered beings called ‘replicants,’ some of whom believe themselves to be human. The city is devoid of nature, with artificial animals standing in for their extinct predecessors. While there’s no direct discussion of environmental destruction, the complete absence of nature is more subtly chilling. The world is subject to heavy corporate influence and an invasive, omnipresent police force—details which seem more relevant to 2019 than robot murder and animatronic squirrels. (Just kidding; robots will probably become human soon.)
And though it isn’t based on a book, the movie Daybreakersis also set in the year 2019. After vampires take over the government, a blood scientist discovers that… surprise! Blood comes from harvested humans who live in a horrible factory compound and have their organs stolen. Let’s not make 2019 the year of organ harvesting if we can help it.