AUTHORMasco, Joseph
TITLETarget Audience
PERIODICAL TITLEBulletin of the Atomic Scientists
DATE PUBLISHEDJuly 2008
VOLUME NUMBER64
ISSUE NUMBER3
PAGE NUMBERS22-31, 45
ISSN0096-3402
Web Access
Available online from Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists   (subscription required)


This article examines how three particular films produced by the U.S. government in the 1950s depicted the nuclear bomb and its destructive effects differently in order to appeal to particular audiences. Each of the films – Exercise Desert Rock, Operation Cue, and Special Weapons Orientation – tailored its presentation of the bomb’s psychological effects, physical threats, and strategic utility to soldier, civilian, and policy maker audiences, respectively. For example, soldiers were instructed that it was safe to carry out tactical missions on a nuclear blast site; civilians were assured that the nuclear bomb was a temporary problem like "bad weather"; and policy makers were shown a classified film on the bomb’s destructive capabilities and the strategic effects of radioactive fallout. The article argues that such films, aiming to suppress public panic and fear rather than publicizing the real dangers of nuclear warfare, represent a highly politicized form of discrete U.S. propaganda. Still-frame images from the films accompany the article.


Find in a Library with

creative commons - some rights reserved
This work is licensed under a
Creative Commons License.