Some things might break
February 8, 2016 1:09 PM   Subscribe

How To Survive A Nuclear Bomb an 'interactive survival experience' from the channel that brought you Threads.
posted by fearfulsymmetry (78 comments total) 23 users marked this as a favorite
 
from the channel that brought you Threads.

* starts backing out of thread *

NOPE NOPE NOPE NOPE NOPE NOPE NOPE NOPE NOPE NOPE NOPE NOPE NOPE NOPE NOPE NOPE NOPE NOPE NOPE NOPE NOPE NOPE NOPE NOPE NOPE NOPE NOPE NOPE NOPE NOPE NOPE NOPE

* door slams in distance, silence *
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 1:16 PM on February 8, 2016 [58 favorites]


Yeahhhh...if you wanted to kill the BBC forever, slapping the words "From The Channel That Brought You Threads" on everything it produces would be a good way to go about it.
posted by The Card Cheat at 1:23 PM on February 8, 2016 [9 favorites]


NOPE NOPE NOPE NOPE NOPE NOPE NOPE NOPE

What she said -- that movie will *wreck* you. That movie is why my plan is to run toward ground zero as fast as I can, then drink as much as I can, because FUCK THAT "SURVIVING" SHIT.
posted by eriko at 1:26 PM on February 8, 2016 [7 favorites]


Um, it's not a choice to watch her video if I can't choose any other option. You suck, game.
posted by leotrotsky at 1:26 PM on February 8, 2016 [6 favorites]


*discovers I'm excellent at surviving an animated nuclear bomb* +50 morale

*. . . .is reminded of Threads* -200 morale
posted by barchan at 1:32 PM on February 8, 2016 [10 favorites]


“The best defence against the atom bomb is not to be there when it goes off”—British Army Journal, 1949.
posted by misteraitch at 1:35 PM on February 8, 2016 [3 favorites]


Ha! I totally beat it. We can win a nuclear war, after all!
posted by indubitable at 1:35 PM on February 8, 2016 [1 favorite]


Did anyone else find this almost laughably optimistic? The cell phone network in the urban area near the blast is up again within 24 hours? There is an organized government response within 72? Maaaybe for an isolated (terrorist?) attack but for a full scale nuclear exchange I am pretty skeptical.
posted by Wretch729 at 1:36 PM on February 8, 2016 [4 favorites]


Any game about nuclear holocaust that doesn't have as an option "Find gun. Kill self" is unrealistic.
posted by Thorzdad at 1:44 PM on February 8, 2016


Possibly the same opening animation followed by "You are dead. Virtually everyone within 15 kilometers is dead. Probably upwards of 50% of your nation is dead. The End." would not have made for as "interactive" a web feature.
posted by Wretch729 at 1:48 PM on February 8, 2016 [1 favorite]


Distressed stencil type? Distressed typewriter?

...

THE 90S REALLY ARE BACK!
posted by entropicamericana at 1:57 PM on February 8, 2016


A realistic American version: The Manhattan Phone Book, Abridged by John Varley.

I survived even after getting mugged. But given the amount of radiation I got, I don't think much of my long term prospects.
posted by Hactar at 1:58 PM on February 8, 2016 [11 favorites]


Does it involve a refrigerator?
posted by AlonzoMosleyFBI at 1:58 PM on February 8, 2016 [5 favorites]


Possibly the same opening animation followed by "You are dead. Virtually everyone within 15 kilometers is dead. Probably upwards of 50% of your nation is dead. The End." would not have made for as "interactive" a web feature.

What's that sci-fi piece that's got a title like "the unabridged phone book" but is really about the aftermath of a nuclear blast?
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 1:59 PM on February 8, 2016 [1 favorite]


(I crossposted with Hactar that's the one I was thinking of.)
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 1:59 PM on February 8, 2016


Protect and Survive was a series of 1970s UK public service announcements (the little old guy in When The Wind Blows has obviously watched them) that are....misleading, but very illustrative of the times.

I gave up on Threads shortly after the actual nuclear blast is shown. I have to warn you - and this will sound inappropriate given the seriousness and horror of the film - IF YOU WATCH IT, there is a horrible cat death. I would strongly suggest fast-forwarding through the actual nuclear inferno sequence with your eyes squinted half closed if this is a thing for you.

But yeah - it's very interesting to compare Threads and The Day After - both are pretty much "everybody dies", but Threads is so much more depressing, because it's basically "everybody ekes out a terrible grim existence then dies slowly and then things get worse".
posted by Frowner at 2:12 PM on February 8, 2016 [2 favorites]


I have probably told this story before, am telling it again -

My senior year in high school, one of my BFFs was in a TV class and tapped me to co-write an anti-nuke movie with her for a project. (Actually, what was happening was that she'd persuaded her teacher to let her do an "independent study" in the TV room during her study hall and she told him that she needed me and one other friend to work with her so she could rescue us from boredom in our own study halls, and after a week of the three of us hanging around and watching old reruns of MASH she realized "y'know, we're actually going to have to produce something," and she got that idea and ran with it.)

During the writing process, the three of us watched various anti-nuke films as "research" - we rewatched "The Day After", no problem. "Testament," no problem. "Dr. Strangelove," fine.

....then we watched Threads. Cued that up one afternoon, the three of us with our bag lunches ready to eat there in the back editing bay of the A/V room and stay through to the study hall. We were fine through the opening scenes, and fine- if a bit grim - during the runup to the war.

Then came the scenes when the bomb actually hit. And the three of us were sitting there, slackjawed, staring at the screen.

And after a moment or two, my friend suddenly stood up without a word and walked into the outer vestibule of the A/V office, sat down in a chair and stared at the wall, not saying a word to anyone. I watched her as she stared at the wall, totally unblinking with a thousand-yard stare. I got up a couple seconds later and followed her out. "y'alright?" She shook her head. "Wanna talk about it?" Another head shake. "...Want me to leave you alone?" A nod. I think I patted her head or something, then went back into the editing bay; she followed a moment later.

It was like - you know that bit from Watership Down, they talk about the rabbits "going tharn," when they get so terrified it actually paralyzes them? ...That scene from Threads made her go tharn.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 2:31 PM on February 8, 2016 [15 favorites]


Yeah, Threads is tharn all the way, if "paralyzed by existential despair and sadness" can get rolled into tharnness.

I mean seriously, I lay there in bed after stopping the video and self-soothed by telling myself over and over "it didn't happen, it's not real" - I, a grown adult!

It's really a great film - spends a lot of time on the characters, a lot of time on naturalistic details, really ratchets up tension. If you compare it to any of the other similar eighties ones (at least that I've seen; it seems that every nation had at least one and I've watched a few at this point) it's just immensely more moving and powerful. Extraordinary that it got made at all, really.
posted by Frowner at 2:38 PM on February 8, 2016 [1 favorite]


I actually had PTSD instead; all the films and research we did gave me a series of super-vivid recurring nightmares that lasted from about 1989 up until 1997, I think. Which also in turn made me totally flip my shit in the middle of a screening of Terminator 2 when I saw my dreams on a 50-foot screen with THX sound and shit.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 2:41 PM on February 8, 2016 [3 favorites]


Um, it's not a choice to watch her video if I can't choose any other option. You suck, game.

If you hit the "Skip" button during the video you don't receive the penalties. The interface doesn't make that at all obvious, though.
posted by Johnny Assay at 2:50 PM on February 8, 2016


I just checked the dates: The Day After, November 1983. Testament, which I thought was better, aired on PBS in November 1984. But it was Threads, which aired in the US in January 1985, that's the one that scared me. Really scared me. I was home alone when I watched it. Afterwards, I had to go outside, just to make sure the world was still there. I stared at the stars for a very long time.
posted by bentley at 2:51 PM on February 8, 2016 [2 favorites]


Jesus, just reading Threads in the post's opening paragraph saddened, frightened and depressed me. :-(
posted by lord_wolf at 2:52 PM on February 8, 2016 [1 favorite]


Bonus!
'The House in the Middle'

"Atomic tests at the Nevada Proving Grounds (later the Nevada Test Site) show effects on well-kept homes, homes filled with trash and combustibles, and homes painted with reflective white paint. Asserts that cleanliness is an essential part of civil defense preparedness and that it increased survivability."
posted by clavdivs at 2:52 PM on February 8, 2016


What's the point of this interactive, at this moment in history? We won the Cold War and it's not like people are all that worried about nuclear annihilation anymore. Right?
posted by monospace at 2:54 PM on February 8, 2016


In my head canon, Sheffield was saved by Felicity Kendall's knickers.
posted by dr_dank at 2:57 PM on February 8, 2016 [3 favorites]


I skipped the vid and still took the morale boost. I'm not going to hang around in nuclear fallout to pull some crushed body out of rubble, or stand around watching a bunch of arms fall off. 2/10 unrealistic, would not Threads again.
posted by turbid dahlia at 2:58 PM on February 8, 2016


Oh - another tale from the editing of the film in high school. When we'd finished shooting, my friend then spent another couple months in post-production; it was our last semester of high school and we were both A students so it was easy for us to get passes from teachers to go do other projects in classes that were slow or had down time. (I was working on a photography project during this time and once managed to get passes from each of my teachers in sequence to spend an entire day in the school dark room - by days' end I was actually getting a contact high from the developer fumes.)

But one morning during this period, we had a freak blackout, and the backup generator wasn't working. For all the rest of us, it was just a weird sort of "huh, weird, the lights went out" kind of thing. Things got fixed about ten minutes later, and life went on.

And then at lunch, my friend came to our regular table looking like she had just survived a complete and total freakout. We asked her if she was okay. And she said that during the blackout she had been in the editing room, which was windowless; all she new was that suddenly she was in pitch blackness. She stumbled out into the hallway, and came out right near the school office - where she overheard the principal and the superintendent arguing about "what do you mean the generator isn't working?" And her immediate thought was:

"OH MY GOD IT'S AN EMP THIS IS IT WE ARE ALL GOING TO DIE RIGHT HERE AND RIGHT NOW"

She said her legs gave out from under her and she collapsed onto the floor of the hallway, and that the only reason that she didn't come around to say goodbye to any of us was that she was to freaked out to remember what classes any of us were in right then.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 3:02 PM on February 8, 2016 [12 favorites]


Hactar: "A realistic American version: The Manhattan Phone Book, Abridged by John Varley."

Secretly, we know we’ll survive. All those other folks will die. That’s what after-the-bomb stories are all about.


Zombie stories too.
posted by Splunge at 3:08 PM on February 8, 2016 [3 favorites]



Protect and Survive yt was a series of 1970s UK public service announcements (the little old guy in When The Wind Blows has obviously watched them) that are....misleading, but very illustrative of the times.


The matter of fact tone and institutional sterility of the Protect and Survive give me this sense of terrible crawling dread that rivals my immediate visceral reaction to the explicitness of the works it inspired.
posted by louche mustachio at 3:17 PM on February 8, 2016 [1 favorite]


Hopping on the Threads Thread: I saw it late at night on TBS in the 80's. I was sobbing and shattered.

Then, in what was arguably one of the most genius programming moves I'VW ever see, TBS ran Harvey with James Stewart right after.

It was the best unicorn chaser possible. I watched the whole movie (one of my faves) just so I could get a little sleep after.
posted by Archer25 at 3:29 PM on February 8, 2016 [7 favorites]


In 1979, FEMA published instructions for building "expedient fallout shelters". One idea was to dig a hole, drive your car over it, and drape a plastic sheet over the car. Depending on how uncharitable you're feeling, you could either view this as a tragicomic example of government ineptitude or a cynical attempt to get people to dig their own graves.
posted by dephlogisticated at 3:34 PM on February 8, 2016 [10 favorites]


Given that a prime survival strategy is to minimize dust the car in a covered hole is a lot better than other approaches.

I wonder from the lessons of Chernobyl give practical approaches to surviving, assuming a reasonable distance from ground zero.
posted by sammyo at 3:40 PM on February 8, 2016 [1 favorite]


I gave up on Threads shortly after the actual nuclear blast is shown. I have to warn you - and this will sound inappropriate given the seriousness and horror of the film - IF YOU WATCH IT, there is a horrible cat death. I would strongly suggest fast-forwarding through the actual nuclear inferno sequence with your eyes squinted half closed if this is a thing for you.

And the worst thing is that the movie becomes far darker after that.

It is the closest depiction of the real horror of Nuclear War filmed. And from all evidence, it's a happy frolicking good time compared to what it would really be like.

When I was young, I had plans on how I was going to survive. Threads showed me just how foolish those plans were.
posted by eriko at 3:42 PM on February 8, 2016 [2 favorites]


dephlogiscated: Depending on how uncharitable you're feeling, you could either view this as a tragicomic example of government ineptitude or a cynical attempt to get people to dig their own graves.

In the downright-cheerful-by-comparison animated film When The Wind Blows, the main characters follow the UK Protect & Survive pamphlets referenced unthread. Among other things, it recommends making a shelter in your house out of the front door, cover yourself in a paper bag, and keep important papers on your person. A similar reading of these tasks would make one conclude that "rescuers" would be able to identify inhabited homes by missing doors, identify remains by the helpful paperwork stashed in the pocket, and marvel at the easy cleanup job that the body is already in a Baggie.
posted by dr_dank at 4:02 PM on February 8, 2016 [4 favorites]


I had nightmares for years after watching Threads.

fearfulsymmetry: "How To Survive A Nuclear Bomb an 'interactive survival experience' from the channel that brought you Threads.

That literally brought on a visible shudder and a moment of nauseated revulsion.
posted by double block and bleed at 4:05 PM on February 8, 2016


Any game about nuclear holocaust that doesn't have as an option "Find gun. Kill self" is unrealistic.

I prefer "Find blunt object, kill radroaches and/or mole rats, find bad gun, kill bandits, get better gun, repeat until you are Lord Death of Murder Mountain."
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 4:11 PM on February 8, 2016 [15 favorites]


I watched Threads when it came on TV. Didn't make it halfway through. Nope nope nope nope.
posted by azpenguin at 4:12 PM on February 8, 2016


What's the point of this interactive, at this moment in history? We won the Cold War and it's not like people are all that worried about nuclear annihilation anymore. Right?

The eldritch powers behind the scenes have been trial ballooning bringing back the nuclear apocalypse since Putin went to Crimea.

"Says here in this pamphlet I'm supposed to put you all in garbage bags after you die, and put you out on the curb for pickup. Guess I gotta go to the store." *Puts Hefty bags on shopping list*
posted by Ray Walston, Luck Dragon at 4:30 PM on February 8, 2016 [1 favorite]


Accidental nuclear annihilation also remains on the cards. There have already been so many accidents and near-detonations that many experts are surprised we haven't managed an accidental nuclear blast yet.

Today there are fewer WMDs on hair-trigger alert than at the height of the cold war, but that's not actually saying much... it's still about half the WMDs in the USA's arsenal sitting on hair-trigger, and just the US arsenal alone is still thousands of nuclear WMDs.
posted by anonymisc at 4:48 PM on February 8, 2016


New, from the makers of "Dear Zachary: A Letter to A Son About His Father" comes a heartwarming family-focused choose your own adventure game!
posted by the uncomplicated soups of my childhood at 4:54 PM on February 8, 2016 [7 favorites]


Alas, Babylon taught me that a nuclear war is perfectly survivable, so long as you have community, a can-do spirit, and live in a swamp.
posted by Apocryphon at 4:59 PM on February 8, 2016 [2 favorites]


Threads is so much more depressing, because it's basically "everybody ekes out a terrible grim existence then dies slowly and then things get worse".

I think that's probably more of a commentary on life in '80s England than anything else.
posted by Apocryphon at 5:01 PM on February 8, 2016 [4 favorites]


"Ask a policeman for help." No thanks.
posted by agregoli at 5:07 PM on February 8, 2016


The grainy film and bad sound, yes.
posted by clavdivs at 5:10 PM on February 8, 2016


Yeah, we've dodged several bullets so far, and details are still coming out about some of them like the Okinawa incident showing that we came closer to armageddon than previously thought. Meanwhile the subject is completely absent from our debates, and our Nobel Prize-winning President is overseeing the development of new bunker-busting nuclear cruise missiles. Gee, I wonder why nihilism is so popular...
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 5:13 PM on February 8, 2016 [2 favorites]


Saw a picture book at the Imperial War Museum, where two kindly British pensioners follow all the Protect & Survive instructions and quite definitely die, but I can't remember the title.

On the positive side, the BBC just recently wargamed a confrontation with Russia from the point of view of the Brits, and they ended up not launching a retaliatory second strike, because by the time the first strike has landed, why bother, except out of pure spite? I'm sure there's a name for this particular part of the MAD paradox but a superficial Google can't find it.
posted by BungaDunga at 5:14 PM on February 8, 2016


Saw a picture book at the Imperial War Museum, where two kindly British pensioners follow all the Protect & Survive instructions and quite definitely die, but I can't remember the title.


"When the Wind Blows" by Raymond Briggs? Utterly heartbreaking.
posted by running order squabble fest at 5:22 PM on February 8, 2016


Oh, yeah. No wonder the description of the film upthread reminded me of it...
posted by BungaDunga at 5:33 PM on February 8, 2016


Why the hell is this a thing NOW??

I'm going to go put my kid to bed and hope we all wake up alive, I guess.
posted by anastasiav at 6:24 PM on February 8, 2016


What's the point of this interactive, at this moment in history?

What happens when we elect one of the current republican nominees, and he has a showdown against Putin and/or the Chinese? What if ISIS infiltrates the Pakistani nuclear forces? A nuclear exchange seems to be getting more likely lately.
posted by monotreme at 6:26 PM on February 8, 2016


Why the hell is this a thing NOW??

North Korea?
posted by radwolf76 at 6:36 PM on February 8, 2016


I'm going to go out my kid to bed and hope we all wake up alive, I guess.

That's it - this thread needs a Bruce Cockburn break.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 7:00 PM on February 8, 2016 [1 favorite]


How to survive a nuclear bomb? You want me to ask around?

Not doomsday fantasy where I live. It's a living memory.
posted by Ice Cream Socialist at 7:13 PM on February 8, 2016 [5 favorites]


The answer to the how to survive question is pretty simple, at least for some relatively bleak definition of survive. Live far away from, and upwind of, any targets.

My family used to own some property with a mobile home on a lake in a small rural community surrounded by hills, which would deflect any blast wave, 50 miles or more from anything that could conceivably been a target. If we happened to be there at the time, we'd have lived. Other than the lack of electricity, we probably would have gotten along just fine, too, since there was room to grow enough food, it was outside of any likely fallout zone, and our well was shallow enough to use a hand pump.

In town, we were a quarter mile from the Air National Guard base, so would have likely been instantly incinerated. So either way, we were good. Not that it stopped me from having some crazy nightmares about walking down some deserted rural highway, coming upon a mailbox, and seeing the blinding flash of nuclear hellfire off in the distance. For the first 10 years or so of my life, the dream ended there. Later in life, it continued with me making my way back towards ground zero for some unknown reason. Oddly, I stopped having that dream after my parents died.

Perhaps that dream is why Threads didn't have any significant effect on me. I faced that fear hundreds of times in my sleep long before I saw the film (or The Day After). I did read War Day when I was 8 or 9, during the time it was still a weekly event for me.

The funny thing is that it is highly likely that both the preppers who are certain they would survive and the Threads-traumatized who are certain everyone would die are wrong. It would be much more likely to play out like War Day proposed, at least in the immediate aftermath. I'm fairly confident some humans would survive. Not likely with much of a civilization in the event of a full scale exchange, but survive nonetheless. We are vermin, and some of the vermin always find a way to make it.
posted by wierdo at 8:25 PM on February 8, 2016 [1 favorite]


"Your shrewd decision-making and quick thinking means you’ve survived to see another day." Yay.

I did enjoy the change in tone when you visit the supermarket from gloomy music to cheery muzak.
posted by urbanwhaleshark at 8:37 PM on February 8, 2016


We won the Cold War and it's not like people are all that worried about nuclear annihilation anymore. Right?

Right. Now Improvised Nuclear Devices and Radiological Dispersion Devices are much more likely. There is enough nuclear material "out there" unaccounted for to make a pretty nasty device, and the knowledge is available. We're pretty much counting on having enough intel and surveillance capability that collecting the material and making the device would not go unnoticed.

You ever notice how no matter what politicians say, once they get their TS clearances they suddenly get a lot more tolerant of big-brother Orwellian NSA-type shit? Maybe they learned something that scares them shitless.
posted by ctmf at 9:28 PM on February 8, 2016 [3 favorites]


I think that's probably more of a commentary on life in '80s England than anything else.

No. Life in the 1980s in England was that way because everybody expected to die in a nuclear war.

Seriously. Go talk to the people who lived through that. They knew the US and USSR would go at it, and they'd be in the middle, and they would die. Threads really just told them how horrible their death would be.
posted by eriko at 9:30 PM on February 8, 2016 [5 favorites]


monospace: "What's the point of this interactive, at this moment in history? We won the Cold War and it's not like people are all that worried about nuclear annihilation anymore. Right?"

Less than a week ago a country led by a crazy dictator with a nuclear arsenal launched a rocket over the country I live in.
posted by Bugbread at 11:18 PM on February 8, 2016


This reminds me of one of my favorite posts of all time: was your home town a Cold War missile target? Growing up in 70s this was a real thing.
posted by cgk at 11:34 PM on February 8, 2016 [1 favorite]


I was so a "missile target". I was a B-52 maintenance specialist (gas station attendant) at Loring AFB in 1980 and it was pretty much our job to get as many planes off the ground in 15 min as possible (Russian subs off the coast with polaris type missiles) and then die and die and die and then have your base atoms reconfigured.
You would not have been able to get far enough away from that place even if you would be allowed to. I suspect going underground would be suggested but I suspect that would have been a lot like being a hamster in a "liberty ball" in a soccer match.... with fire.
posted by boilermonster at 12:40 AM on February 9, 2016 [1 favorite]


If you really want to up your paranoia levels then I'd totally recommend Command and Control: Nuclear Weapons, the Damascus Accident, and the Illusion of Safety by Eric Schlosser which goes into great detail on just how unsafe nuclear weapons and the control systems around them were during the cold war and it was basically just down to luck that a h bomb didn't go off by accident and obliterate a city or two.
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 1:10 AM on February 9, 2016 [3 favorites]


Nukes are in the British consciousness at the moment because we're deciding whether to renew our nuclear 'deterrent' (Trident submarines), and leader of the opposition Jeremy Corbyn, a long-time CND campaigner/leader, has proposed scrapping it.
posted by Drexen at 7:03 AM on February 9, 2016 [2 favorites]


For us Americans: the CND is extremely interesting. They invented the peace sign, for instance, and Bayard Rustin was a speaker at one of their early marches. "Don't You Hear The H-Bomb's Thunder" was written for the CND by famous science fiction writer John Brunner. I am always particularly struck by the images from the fifties and sixties Aldermaston marches.
posted by Frowner at 7:24 AM on February 9, 2016 [1 favorite]


Yeah, Command and Control is a crazy and gripping read, even if you don't care for non-fiction much.

Also my brother and I grew up in the 70s-early 80s. He's the younger one and had pretty much constant nightmares about nuclear war during his childhood. He took a more "instant gratification" path than I did (though he's doing well now) I'm convinced mostly because he just assumed we were all going to die and so why bother with studying for college, etc. I think the trauma of all that paranoia scarred him (and maybe me) for life. It's hard to overstate how much it was discussed and just in our consciousness. And I wasn't even born during the Cuban Missile Crisis, so it must have been even worse then.
posted by freecellwizard at 8:53 AM on February 9, 2016 [1 favorite]


EmpressCallipygos's story about the editing bay reminded me of seeing 28 Days Later at a midnight screening in Camden, London on a week night. My girlfriend and I walked out onto Parkway around 2 am and the streets of London were dark and deserted... and... well, we were within walking distance of home but damn did we walk fast just in case.

The girlfriend in question did her thesis on 80's cold war UK policy and Threads is her starter for 10 when it comes to nuclear holocaust nightmares.
posted by Molesome at 9:01 AM on February 9, 2016 [1 favorite]


Seriously. Go talk to the people who lived through that. They knew the US and USSR would go at it, and they'd be in the middle, and they would die.

Why didn't the rest of Western Europe feel that way? Heck, West Germany was on the very frontlines.
posted by Apocryphon at 11:05 AM on February 9, 2016


What's the point of this interactive, at this moment in history?

It's perfect that the latest comment mentioned 28 Days Later, because my droll answer is that people are all tapped out on zombie apocalypses, and yearn to return to the simple time-tested horror of nuclear holocaust.
posted by Apocryphon at 11:07 AM on February 9, 2016


On the positive side, the BBC just recently wargamed a confrontation with Russia from the point of view of the Brits, and they ended up not launching a retaliatory second strike, because by the time the first strike has landed, why bother, except out of pure spite? I'm sure there's a name for this particular part of the MAD paradox but a superficial Google can't find it.

That's the rather excellent film War Book. It's bonechilling.
posted by Happy Dave at 12:07 PM on February 9, 2016


Read this before bed last night and had the same horrific nightmares I did as a child.
Thanks for the NostalgiaFilter.
Ya dicks.
posted by Senor Cardgage at 12:18 PM on February 9, 2016


I haven't seen Threads.

Now I sorta want to.

Maybe shouldn't though. Might bring back my 70's and 80's kid sleeping and waking nightmares. There was a time that every single time I heard a plane or other noise in the sky I braced myself. I remember shivering under my covers from fear that it was a bomb. I've seen mushroom clouds from my childhood deck. I've watched fighter planes and missles go over my house. These dreams were so vivid that I remember them as almost real memories. I was so fearful that I felt that anytime my thoughts were on any other topic it was only when they settled back on nuclear war that I felt like I was thinking real thoughts. Anything else was ignoring reality.
posted by Jalliah at 1:14 PM on February 9, 2016 [1 favorite]


Jalliah: I had those dreams too, but Threads is largely why I have them.

I wouldn't just avoid Threads in your case, I would brandish two crossed pieces of wood and ward it off like a vampire or something.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 1:32 PM on February 9, 2016 [6 favorites]


I haven't seen Threads.

Now I sorta want to.


No, you probably don't. It is an absolutely terrifying movie, and it's terrifying because it represents a completely plausible hell-on-earth scenario instead of a Hollywood apocalypse. I had many of those dreams as well, and Threads did not help at all.
posted by azpenguin at 2:53 PM on February 9, 2016


I think that the fact that this Regional Government Headquarters bunker looks like it's run by U.N.I.T. and has an analog map, those heavy club-phones and multicoloured blinky-lights means that there will be a few people, probably wearing ties and sensible shoes, who will survive the initial all-star dance party by being close to a bunker.
Naturally, they'll all die due to lack of food, radiation, and the onset of nuclear winter.

There was a scene in Carl Sagan's Cosmos in which he's looking at planet on which there is sentient life, but they don't make it and all the lights go off all around the globe for the last time, and that's what it'd end up being for us. Tried, failed. No "re-do", no rescue, no redemption.
The episode is the final one:"Who Speaks For Earth?". The 'depressing bit that dovetailed with the whole nuclear annihilation scenario when I was growing up' starts at 10:15. Fortunately it's Sagan, so the episode ends on a hopeful note.
posted by Zack_Replica at 4:12 PM on February 9, 2016


I remember stumbling across "Threads" back in the 1980s, possibly on PBS. I watched it, through to the end. Just brutal.
posted by wintermind at 4:43 PM on February 9, 2016


That's the rather excellent film War Book. It's bonechilling.

Interesting! I was thinking of this TV show, which is (ostensibly) unscripted, at least on the part of the actual wargamers, and the scenario is a Ukraine-style escalation in the Baltic. It comes with a handy companion website.
posted by BungaDunga at 6:22 PM on February 9, 2016


Why didn't the rest of Western Europe feel that way? Heck, West Germany was on the very frontlines.

There was actually a huge amount of anti-nuclear activism and anti-nuclear pop culture in Western Europe - there are French and German "The Day After"-type movies, for example, and I imagine there are similar ones from other countries. There was massive anti-nuclear and anti-war activism in West Germany ("Ninety-nine Luftballons", anyone? It's more anti-war than purely anti-nuclear in the original, apparently.) There were tons and tons of punk bands with anti-nuclear (and anti-American, sometimes anti-Soviet) songs - The Ex's album "Too Many Cowboys" comes to mind. The reason Threads is such a big deal to Americans and Brits (other than the fact that it's really good) is that it's in English, and even for those of us whose French, German, etc is good enough to engage with pop culture in other languages, it can be a little hard to find given that it's thirty years old and Before The Internet.

But don't kid yourself - nuclear fears were not unique to the US and the UK.
posted by Frowner at 7:19 PM on February 9, 2016


Interesting! I was thinking of this TV show, which is (ostensibly) unscripted, at least on the part of the actual wargamers, and the scenario is a Ukraine-style escalation in the Baltic. It comes with a handy companion website.

Huh. And now that I think about it, War Book (SPOILERS) ends completely differently - they decide that they have to use their nukes because otherwise what was the point of having them, even if they're just bouncing the rubble that the US would leave behind. It's really, really dark at the end.

Interesting that both came out recently with such different outcomes. Maybe people are more sensible than scriptwriters think they are.

crosses fingers
posted by Happy Dave at 11:06 PM on February 9, 2016


Threads is just begging for a Mefi Fanfare *ahem* thread.
posted by dr_dank at 8:23 AM on February 11, 2016


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