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The Imagination of Disaster by Susan Santog

In “The Imagination of Disaster,” Susan Santog claims that our lives are continuously under threat by two “equally fearful but seemingly opposed destinies: unremitting banality and inconceivable terror.” She further claims that science fiction protects humans from these forces and provides a normal psychological state.

The author of the article, Katy Waldman, believes that the 1950s science fiction movies provided a healthy escape while keeping an eye on what we wish to escape from. In the 1950s, science fiction had the task of distracting viewers from the soviet menace and nuclear threat and calming the anxieties generated by these events.

Waldman discusses the movie Them, a Warner Bros movies that involve a tale of giant irradiated ants. The giant ants result from fallout due to the trinity blast in New Mexico that transforms normal ants into 18-foot armored monsters. Also, an entomologist pair of father and daughter, Gwenn and Pat Medford, helps deduce the happening and stop the menace. The movie further has scenes where Pat Medford teaches an audience about the lifecycle of an ant and also a scene where the TV discusses the use of radiation to eradicate the ants. The author uses Them to bring to light the emotions brought about by the carapaces of the ant. Their mechanical nature and form of communication evoke the feelings of war technology and lessen the agony of being attacked by something unknown and terrifying.

Similarly, in the movie Paranoia, the Bomb, the author discusses the role women play in the movies. There is a clear eroticization of nuclear power where sexuality is used to contain fears of limits of meaning. In the movie, there is a constant war between the forces that are determined to purify and make progress, while there is an equally opposite force that causes contamination and degeneracy. The movie increases the already existing fears of Darwinist decline by gendering the role of genders and powering it up using a nuclear generator and finally serving the public viewers already protective of their civilization. The movie finally converges on a single suspicion that raises the question of who the real American dream is: the women, the Soviets, or the heedless scientists. The movie succeeds in dreading the issue, creating questions and lingering insecurities in the minds of the viewers.

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