How America survived the Martian invasion in 1938 live
How America survived the Martian invasion in 1938 live

On the eve of Halloween in 1938, the inhabitants of the American East Coast experienced a real panic. Several million people took the radio show of HG Wells' novel for the truth and prepared for the attack of the Martians. Frightened people fled the cities, creating many kilometers of traffic jams on the roads, and armed volunteers came to police stations. Some barricaded themselves in their homes and for a long time did not dare to believe that the tragedy played out on the air was just a successful performance.

To justify the credulous radio listeners, it should be noted that the staging of the science fiction novel really looked extremely authentic. Director Orson Welles planned to tickle the nerves of the townsfolk a little on the eve of the most terrible holiday, so he did not skimp on special effects and used a non-standard approach to the play.

Before the start of the performance, an announcement was made on the CBS radio station that a radio show by the artists "Mercury Theater" based on the work of HG Wells "The War of the Worlds" will be broadcast, but then at first it resembled a standard radio broadcast: a weather forecast, a concert, the chatter of the presenter … Those who turned on the receiver a little later, did not hear the name of the performance at all, and those who heard it managed to forget about it. Suddenly, the presenter reported about bright flares on Mars, then the program was interrupted several times, and the listeners learned that an unusually large meteorite was flying towards Earth. Then came the reportage of "my own correspondent from the crash site."

Illustrations for "War of the Worlds", 1906

Then the show unfolded rapidly: a giant crater and human casualties were described on the radio (an interview with a farmer who lost livestock and crops as a result of the disaster), and then the "journalist" began to describe how evil aliens were getting out of the meteorite, which turned out to be an interplanetary ship. Before disappearing from the air, the correspondent managed to describe an alien weapon that shoots "death rays". Shouting "We are all going to die!" The "valiant journalist" fled from the scene of the tragedy.

The ether was continued by a certain professor Pearson, who described the incredible technologies of the Martians, then he was replaced by the head of the New Jersey National Guard and martial law was declared in several counties. A certain minister, with a voice similar to Franklin Roosevelt, asked the Americans to remain calm, which caused even more panic. The next message left no hope for the earthlings: the evil aliens had already incinerated the whole village and smashed the army barriers. The joke culminated in a report about a poisonous gas that poisons all living things. After the broadcast fell silent, and only the voice of a distant radio amateur asked at least someone to respond.

Orson Welles on the air of the War of the Worlds radio play

Only 40 minutes after the start of the production, the presenter reminded the frightened people that they were listening to the play, and by that time America was already panicking: people were packing up their things and hastily leaving the cities, creating many kilometers of traffic jams on the roads; telephone lines were overloaded - residents tried to contact relatives, called government agencies, demanding that measures be taken to save the Earth from invasion.During the radio show and later, the New York police received more than two thousand calls, and in New Jersey they even managed to mobilize the National Guard and fire brigades. Impressive earthlings really began to smell poisonous gas in the air and see falling meteorites in the sky, bringing death.

It was only by morning to take the situation under control and figure out what had happened. True, some people had to be persuaded to return home for a long time or, conversely, to dismantle the barricades and open the door. Newspapers began to print rebuttals and accuse Orson Welles of a bad joke. It was later estimated that a total of about six million Americans heard the radio show, and a fifth, 1.2 million, believed the attack was real.

Newspaper headlines about the comic production of "War of the Worlds"

Of course, not everyone appreciated the play's sense of humor, and numerous lawsuits were filed with CBS. However, none of the frightened townsfolk managed to compensate for the moral harm, except for one elderly listener: the man ruined his new shoes while running away from aliens, and Orson Welles voluntarily compensated this damage to him.

It would seem that the bad experience of American radio should have served as a warning for fans of jokes on the air, but ten years later, the owner of a small radio station in Ecuador decided to repeat the production of "War of the Worlds." This time, place names were adapted for the country, and a local newspaper set the stage for panic by printing several UFO reports in advance in the vicinity of Quito and other parts of Ecuador.

Ecuadorians were even more gullible than Americans. Panic started even faster, and frightened people even tried to storm police arsenals in search of weapons. This time the "War of the Worlds" turned into a real tragedy, riots broke out in the cities and several people died. The jokers did not get off with lawsuits. When the truth was revealed, angry earthlings destroyed the radio station and the newspaper's editorial office, the main culprit of the draw, Leandro Paes, was forced to emigrate from the country.

Monument to the imaginary landing of the Martians, installed in Grovers Mill - it was in this place, according to the radio show, that the Martians landed

This case was called the "Ecuadorian Syndrome" and showed the peculiarities of the human psyche to perform active actions without understanding the situation. However, in this case, it was really easy for people to believe in the Martian expansion, because the police and other public services of Ecuador joined in the general panic, and the government even managed to create a special commission and hold an emergency meeting.

Fortunately, the war with aliens still does not threaten humanity, although the future raises concerns, because HG Wells is called <a href = ""/> a science fiction prophet whose predictions come true.

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