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We Are Fearmongers in the US

This is one of the many bad habits picked up from too close an association with Calvinism – the BBC magazine reports: A little dash of panic

American public information films weren’t like the British ones. They were scary, for starters.

It was in postwar Britain and the US that public information films truly came into their own. In the wake of morale-boosting incitements to help the war effort came movie shorts designed to educate young people on the perils of everything from hot pans on stoves to the terrors of “reefer madness”.

But a search through the archives shows there was a marked difference in approach on either side of the Atlantic.

Yes, never rely on information when you can terrorize people.


1 Badtux { 05.11.08 at 12:31 pm }

Ah yes. I imagine that some folks for whom the Bush Administration’s rabid encantations upon variations of “OMG! It’s *DARK-SKINNED PEOPLE* coming to *KILL US ALL*!” might be surprised by some of this. But of course this is a traditional strain in American politics dating at least to the late 1800’s (probably before then, that’s the earliest I’ve personally tracked it). As H.L. Mencken noted back in the early 20th century, talking about American politics and how it’s practiced: “The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed (and hence clamorous to be led to safety) by menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins, all of them imaginary. ”

And some wonder why the rest of the world now considers America and Americans to be psychotic paranoid nutcases…

– Badtux the TV-less Penguin (because if I have to read between the lines to get an inkling at the truth, I want *lines*, goddamn it!).

2 Bryan { 05.11.08 at 1:12 pm }

It is totally absurd in a country built by people who went out into the middle of nothing and nowhere to build totally inappropriate houses and farm.

As a nation whose population started with risk-takers, we have become unbelievably risk adverse.

My parents would have had a meltdown if they had any idea of the sorts of things my brothers and I got up to in the woods down here. Let me just say that the Consumer Product Safety Commission and OSHA have long since banned just about everything we considered “toys”, and the Department of Children and Families would have a collective stroke about some of things that we considered pets.

Damn, it was fun! Amazing that none of us died, because the Public Service commercials indicate that we shouldn’t have lasted one typical morning.