Celluloid Mushroom Clouds: Hollywood and Atomic Bomb

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Westview Press, 1998 - Performing Arts - 212 pages
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Celluloid Mushroom Clouds is a historical account of how the movie industry responded to specific economic and political forces over the postwar years. Joyce Evans investigates the transformation of the imagery associated with atomic technology found in Hollywood film produced and distributed between 1947 and 1964. Incorporating qualitative and quantitative research methods, over 90 films are analyzed in terms of their historical context and the context of film production and distribution.The industry-focused approach presented in the book views cultural production as a material process unfolding under specific economic, political, and cultural conditions and emphasizes the “pressures and limits” of production that are inscribed in cinematic texts. The study illustrates in concrete detail how the cinematic texts negotiated by audiences are produced in highly concentrated industries and are constructed as a result of often contradictory determinants. These determinants work to shape the texts produced by encouraging, for example, the production of particular genres and by privileging a specific set of images over others. Evans argues that through these images, Hollywood articulated a limited critique of the Cold War ideology, which it also helped to create. She concludes that Hollywood’s overall ideological effect has been to restrict the discursive means available for defining social reality.

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Above and Beyond 1952
Experimentation with Atomic Themes
Hollywood Science Fiction 19541959
Alien Invaders and Atomic Espionage
Postnudear Scenarios
The Nuclear Future 19601964
Questioning Authority
From Mutually Assured Destruction to Mutant Ninja Turtles
Appendix Ml

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Page 97 - The earth also was corrupt before God, and the earth was filled with violence. And God looked upon the earth, and, behold, it was corrupt; for all flesh had corrupted his way upon the earth.
Page 38 - It is an atomic bomb. It is a harnessing of the basic power of the universe. The force from which the sun draws its power has been loosed against those who brought war to the Far East.
Page 31 - We call upon the government of Japan to proclaim now the unconditional surrender of all Japanese armed forces, and to provide proper and adequate assurances of their good faith in such action. The alternative for Japan is prompt and utter destruction.
Page 97 - And the Lord said, I will destroy man whom I have created from the face of the earth ; both man, and beast, and the creeping thing, and the fowls of the air; for it repenteth me that I have made them.
Page 35 - Our world is threatened by a crisis whose extent seems to escape those within whose power it is to make major decisions for good or evil. The unleashed power of the atom has changed everything except our ways of thinking. Thus we are drifting toward a catastrophe beyond comparison. We shall require a substantially new manner of thinking if mankind is to survive.
Page 69 - It is no concern of ours how you run your own planet, but if you threaten to extend your violence, this earth of yours will be reduced to a burned-out cinder. Your choice is simple: join us and live in peace, or pursue your present course and face obliteration.
Page 166 - What the wacky characters in Dr. Strangelove are saying is precisely what needs to be said: this nightmare eventuality that we have concocted for our children is nothing but a crazy fantasy, by nature as horribly crippled and dehumanized as Dr. Strangelove himself.
Page 69 - The result is, we live in peace, without arms or armies, secure in the knowledge that we are free from aggression and war.
Page 38 - Thirty seconds after the explosion came first, the air blast pressing hard against the people and things, to be followed almost immediately by the strong, sustained, awesome roar which warned of doomsday and made us feel that we puny things were blasphemous to dare tamper with the forces heretofore reserved to The Almighty.
Page 69 - In matters of aggression, we have given them absolute power over us. This power cannot be revoked. At the first sign of violence, they act automatically against the aggressor. The penalty for provoking their action is too terrible to risk.

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About the author (1998)

Joyce A. Evans teaches courses on popular culture, Hollywood film, and communication theory at the University of California at San Diego.

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