Nuclear Holocaust in American Films

In Carl Mitcham (ed.), Technology and Ethics: Research in Philosophy and Technology. Westport: JAI Press. pp. 3-21 (1989)
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Abstract
Ordinary people shudder at the thought that people in positions of power might do whatever they think they can get away with. But that is often the way it is in the real world, and the risks go even higher when opportunity is compounded with impatience. The ways of negotiation and diplomacy are not considered entirely outmoded. But more and more we are being duped by a dream of some ultimate technological fix: that one more fancy gadget is all it will take to solve the vexing problems that less well-tooled folks have been stumbling over for centuries. Our success rate, this reasoning goes, has been limited so far only by the limits on our equipment. With the new super-missile, or the new super-plane, or the new superlaunching system in space, we will be able to leap tall buildings in a single bound-or, what is more to the point, just blow them away and walk across the crater. "Bombs can be clean." "Nuclearwar is winnable." The illusion of omnipotence that accompanies this megalomania is well nurtured by manufacturers who stand in line for contracts to help build some super-weapon. This should not be surprising. What at first glance is surprising is the almost total failure of our commercial media to call this myth into question. This criticism is meant to be sweeping, but I will here focus my remarks on film.
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