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How a Mushroom Cloud Changed Pop Culture

London Free Press online editor says without Hiroshima there would be no Watchmen

After Aug. 6, 1945, everything changed.

That’s the day the Enola Gay dropped Little Boy on Hiroshima, killing tens of thousands instantly — and giving birth to modern pop culture in the same blinding flash.

Without the obliteration of Hiroshima, and the destruction of Nagasaki three days later, there would have been no lingering dread in Japan about further U.S. nuclear tests.

Without that anxiety, the filmmakers at Toho Studios would never have dreamed up Godzilla to capitalize on the shared fear of their countrymen.

The prehistoric lizard would remain locked in his icy prison to this day.

As things stand, Godzilla has been breathing fire on Tokyo for decades.

This same angst also sparked imaginations in Hollywood.

Without atomic paranoia, monster movies like Them! — with its cast of giant mutated ants — would not have been made.

Science fiction also would have evolved differently, with flicks like The Day The Earth Stood Still — in which the alien Klaatu comes to Earth with a warning for humanity about the dangers of mutually assured destruction — going unfilmed.

Absent the fear generated by images of those giant mushroom clouds rising over the Japanese landscape, radiation would have forever remained in the background.

No one would have been scared of radioactive spiders, so Spider-Man wouldn’t have been invented. There would be no Daredevil, Hulk or X-Men.

Stan Lee would have been out of a job.

Without Hiroshima and Nagasaki, there would have been no nuclear arms race. And without proliferation, there could have been no Cuban missile crisis.

Without the crisis, Bob Dylan wouldn’t have written A Hard Rain’s A-Gonna Fall.

Without continuing fear of a nuclear war, Canada’s own Prism never would have sang Armageddon, nor Nena 99 Red Balloons.

There would have been no No Nukes tour or album.

Without nuclear war, there would have been no threat of an apocalypse, without which there could be no possibility of a post-apocalypse.

And without a post-apocalypse, the Mad Max movies wouldn’t exist. Mel Gibson likely wouldn’t be a big star.

Nevil Shute wouldn’t have penned On The Beach. The apes wouldn’t have evolved to take over from their human overlords, creating The Planet Of The Apes in the process. The Day After would not have aired on network television.

Without nuclear escalation, there would have been no Doomsday Clock, therefore no Doctor Manhattan, therefore no big-screen adaptation of The Watchmen coming to a theatre near you in 2009.

Without those first and only dreadful bombings, there would have been no nuclear energy, so no widespread fear of a meltdown. There would have been no China Syndrome, which presaged both Three Mile Island and Chernobyl.

There is no silver lining to what happened 62 years ago. Sad as we may be, there’s no denying that’s when the world of pop culture, as we know it today, came into existence.

Two cities were wiped off the map, countless lives were lost, pop culture was given one of its raisons d’être.

8.9.2007
Source: The London Free Press

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