Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Timely Repost: Boy, Radio Listeners Are Gullible

On this day in 1938, the original episode of ‘Punked’ aired on CBS Radio’s ‘Mercury Theater on the Air.’ Well, it was something like that. Orson Welles’ aired his production of H.G. Wells’ ‘War of the Worlds.’ (Boy that’s great alliteration, isn’t it? Welle’s version of Wells’ War of the Worlds. Well, I think I said that wonderfully, it sounds so whimsical...) Despite the introduction by Welles saying that it was a radio adaptation, most people tuned in late and actually thought the Martian invasion was real. The only difference between what Orson Welles did that day and current reality TV is that he adapted a story from a book and made it up so it sounded real while reality TV is real and looks so made up. Except of course for Dirty Jobs. You just can't recreate poo like that.

Oh, to have that type of gullibility amongst us today. Back in ’38, people all over the east coast panicked, took to the highways to flee the Martian landing area and there were even reports of suicides. None could ever be confirmed though. I guess the havoc it wreaked must have looked a lot like the movie ‘Mars Attacks.’ It would be so much harder to get that type of response to a radio or TV production like that today. With so many cable news outlets and the internet, the hoax would be uncovered pretty quickly. Besides, if it was a hoax attempted over the internet, thousands would flock immediately to Snopes.com for confirmation of the hoax and discover it wasn’t true. People are just no fun these days. We can no longer believe our politicians and we question everything. Now granted, that is probably a good policy to adapt towards most things these days, but wouldn’t a good old-fashioned radio hoax be a hoot. Of course, the creator of it would be sued to the fullest extent of the law if they caused traffic backups and mass hysteria, but that’s part of the fun!

There was an elementary teacher I had two years in a row who would play the Orson Welles radio show every Halloween. (I swear it wasn’t because I was held back. He changed the grades he was teaching - no really!) We thought it was the coolest thing. He would explain the hysteria it caused and then we’d listen to it with the classroom lights turned off while only sunlight shined through. Of course we were the ‘Star Wars’ generation and found the whole premise of the show hard to believe, but we still enjoyed it and humored our teacher. If he attempted to play that radio show today, someone would complain and he’d be put on administrative leave until further notice! Then it would get press attention and end up in the odd news section and I’d get to blog about it all over again. I guess that’s what they call the circle of life.

Maybe the most recent attempt at messing with American audiences that I can think of was the FOX broadcast a few years back of the alien autopsy. At least I think they meant that to be perceived as real. We should use blogsville to perpetrate our own worldwide hoax. It could be something like the internet only has room for a few thousand more blogs, genetic testing has proven that Fidel Castro and Osama Bin Laden are the same person, Monday has been replaced on the calendar by a new day called Funday or that this coming weekend’s time change is an accident and should actually take place in two more weeks, except in Mentone, California and Fort Fairfield, Maine where the clocks should move forward by eight hours. If done correctly and promoted the right way through the Wondernet, the fake story could spread as fast as news of the E-Coli spinach outbreak did. Although that story was very real, I think. Unless it was perpetuated by a rival spinach company to hurt their competitors. Ugh, will the spinach wars ever end?

On second thought, maybe I won’t spread a fake story via the Wondernet. I just got off the phone with a relative in the mid-west and she said there are strange clouds appearing out of nowhere that are emitting electricity and toxic fumes and they’re heading west. If you need me, I’m relocating to the closest cave for a while. Hopefully it has a Wi-Fi connection.


Patti said...

Such a fun teacher would no doubt get into a heap of trouble today..parents would sue him for scaring their little ones, for one thing.

You have some great hoax ideas. I say go for it/them.

Tink said...

Wasn't there a movie in the late 70's/early 80's about a nuclear bomb on the west coast that caused a stir?

heartinsanfrancisco said...

But there WAS a Mars invasion, and I am living proof because they left me behind.

I've been waiting and waiting for them to come back for me, but they seem to have forgotten. Or perhaps, they have placed their misguided faith in MapQuest, in which case I am verily screwed.

Michael C said...

Patti: Hoaxing it is then!

Tink: Was there really? Now I'm all freaked out!!

HeartsinSanFran: Really? Is there a Starbucks on Mars? I'm betting there is. Mapquest scares me, but then so do churros...

brandy said...

I love teachers like that! And you are right- someone would find something to complain about and that teacher would end up getting a book deal, or at least 10,000 hits a day on their blog for their trouble. I sound far more bitter than I am about the crap teachers deal with nowdays, I apologize.

I had a teacher who taught me grade 3 and then grade 4. I thought the only reason she switched grades was because I did. When I went into grade 5 and she wasn't there... that was a bad day.

Michael C said...

Bran: You should be a teacher like that and can you imagine your grade 3/4 teacher when they realized they couldn't move on with you???

Odat said...

Damn, I didn't comment yesterday...I broke my streak!! Sorry I don't know why I wasn't here..but I am now...does this count?

meleah rebeccah said...

Caves without Wi-Fi are so last year