These days, TV shows like Tosh.0 and South Park (I watch a lot of Comedy Central, sue me) start off with a warning message in order to let us know that what we’re about to watch should not be tried at home or is capable of offending more than 90% of the human population. Nothing on either of those shows, or many of the others prefaced by such messages, has the capability of making grown adults vacate their houses and take to the roads, attempting to speed away from some horrific evil never before seen by mankind.
However, in 1938, people weren’t quite as used to today’s “anything goes” TV shows, mainly because they didn’t really have TVs. Instead, families gathered around their radios like a bunch of suckers to listen to all kinds of stories for entertainment, and one such story, directed and told by Orson Welles, caused a lot of people to freak the f*ck out, because they thought the world was being invaded by aliens.
That story was HG Wells’ “The War of the Worlds,” and it aired on CBS radio on October 30, 1938, 75 years ago to the day. The show, of course, featured a warning, but the people who didn’t tune in at the very beginning didn’t get to hear it, and instead they heard Welles and other actors tell a very scary story of creatures from Mars touching down in America. And old-timer baller that he was, Welles wasn’t even the slightest bit sorry about making everyone freak out.
After the uproar that Orson Welles had brought with “The War of the Worlds”, the director was forced to call a press conference saying, “I have no interest in explaining to the public the reasons for radiating the novel, much less to apologize for having you excited. If there have been mass panic situations is only because I know telling stories on the radio”. (Via The Show Must Go On…)
And today, the most terrifying thing on TV is Here Comes Honey Boo Boo. We’ve come a long way, baby.
Should you choose to listen to that whole broadcast, try your hardest to not think of Tom Cruise running like a bee is chasing him while Dakota Fanning screams in your ears.