War Of The Worlds Broadcast dismembering the Community By, Sara Conroy

Learning information through multiple perspectives impacts one's understanding of an event because it allows readers to analyze different sides of a story and develop their own ideas and perspective on a topic or event.

Stories that deal with political and social issues can give further insight into an event or topic. Although some may argue adequate government influence can keep a community under control and prevent mass hysteria or anarchy, without question, the novel Animal Farm by George Orwell and the War of the Worlds broadcast can help us understand the detrimental effect too much government control and censorship can have on a community.

In the book animal farm by George Orwell there are seven commandments which the animals must abide by. These seven commandments are extremely symbolic due to the fact that they illustrate both the manipulation in Animal Farm and the differences between the pigs and the working animals.

The pigs referred to as Napoleon and Snowball symbolize communists who have taken control of the farm and afflict tyranny upon their people. There is a major power imbalance between the pigs and other farm animals, as they fight to take power instead of doing what's best for their "people". The other animals do not have a say and are overall oppressed by the pigs. When displays of power limit the inability to speak freely in an environment and restrict all from pursuing life, liberty and happiness, people lose these inalienable rights. This leads to the questions: Is there a time when the government is justified in censoring media?

This image shows the power imbalance between the pigs and the other farm animals.

On the other side the cat symbolized the more educated who did not believe that communism was the correct path. She never followed the rules and duties the pigs were enforcing on the other farm animals. Instead she choose her own path and did the things she pleased not obliging to the rules and regulations of the communist pigs.

Let's take a look at the War of Worlds Broadcast:

  • Took Place during November 1918
  • Was produced by Orson Welles
  • War of Worlds was a radio broadcast that convinced Americans that aliens were invading
  • Caused an immediate outbreak of mass hysteria and panic
  • Americans frantically called newspapers and radio stations
  • Americans fled their homes.
  • Reports of panic from Baltimore, Atlanta, Indianapolis, Memphis, Minneapolis, and Salt Lake City and all over the U.S

Although some believe that Orson Welles, was unjustified in producing the radio broadcast, the War of the Worlds, because it caused controversy and mass hysteria, others believe it was justified because of the freedom of press and freedom of speech.

So, was Orson Welles justified in releasing the War Of The Worlds program on not?

Some believed Orson was not justified because his program was socially and politically dangerous to gullible, uneducated, and naive audiences and it caused thousands of Americans to panic.

During the months that followed the War of Worlds thousands of newspaper articles where written displaying the panic and mass hysteria caused by the radio broadcast. Perhaps as many as a million radio listeners believed that a real Martian invasion was underway. Panic broke out across the country. In New Jersey, terrified civilians jammed highways seeking to escape the alien intruders. People begged the police for gas masks and asked electric companies to turn off the lights so martians could not see them. Overall the event was seen to have a negative effect on Americans and as written in an article entitled "1938-Welles Scares Nation" was rumored to cause suicides though none were ever confirmed.

A well know Newspaper company William Randolph Hearst's papers called on broadcasters to police themselves before the government stepped in, as Iowa Senator Clyde L. Herring proposed a bill that would have required all programming to be reviewed by the FCC prior to broadcast. Which some saw as inflicting censorship.

This is a photo of Clyde L. Herring a member of the FCC.

As it states in an article written on archives.gov more than six hundred Americans had called the FCC, encouraging that the government to step up and prevent such broadcasts in the future.

The FCC is also known as the federal communications commission.

Though some called for more protection through regulation others thought it would be dangerous to for the government to impose censorship and would go against Orson's rights and freedom of speech.

Over 40% of the letters sent to the FCC in fact were positive and focused more on the entertainment value of the broadcast and discouraged censorship of any projects in the future.

In a telegram sent to the FCC the singer Eddie Cantor stated "the Mercury Theater [sic] drama . . . was a melodramatic masterpiece . . . censorship would retard radio immeasurably and produce a spineless radio theater as unbelievable as the script of the War of the Worlds."

The Singer Eddie Cantor was a supporter of the World Of Wars Broadcast.

While looking through multiple lenses and perspectives we are able to anylize and identify the multiple opinions on government censorship and it's potential over impact on community. In animal farm we see how some enforced communism, the pigs, and how some believed that too much government control was not beneficial to the farm community, the cat. Regarding the War of the Worlds broadcast we were able to see how some believed the government should enforce legislation and censor future radio broadcast and how others believed government censorship on media would affect there rights to freedom of speech and freedom of press as well as delay the development and growth of the medium.

Work cited:

  • “American Experience: TV's Most-Watched History Series.” PBS, PBS, www.pbs.org/wgbh/americanexperience/features/introduction/worlds/.
  • Pooley, Jefferson, and Michael J. Socolow. “Orson Welles’ War of the Worlds Did Not Touch Off a Nationwide Hysteria. Few Americans Listened. Even Fewer Panicked.” Slate Magazine, 28 Oct. 2013, www.slate.com/articles/arts/history/2013/10/orson_welles_war_of_the_worlds_panic_myth_the_infamous_radio_broadcast_did.html.
  • Schwartz, A. Brad. “Orson Welles and History's First Viral-Media Event.” Vanity Fair, Vanity Fair, 27 Apr. 2015, www.vanityfair.com/culture/2015/04/broadcast-hysteria-orson-welles-war-of-the-worlds.
  • “‘War of the Worlds’: Behind the 1938 Radio Show Panic.” National Geographic, National Geographic Society, news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2005/06/0617_050617_warworlds.html.
  • “Welles Scares Nation.” History.com, A&E Television Networks, www.history.com/this-day-in-history/welles-scares-nation.
  • “The War of the Worlds : Orson Welles-Mr. Bruns : Free Download &Amp; Streaming.” Internet Archive, archive.org/details/OrsonWellesMrBruns.

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