As noted in my post Splitting Atomic Symbolism: Differing Words, Images, and Sounds of a Nuclear World, I am due to give a paper related to symbolism of nuclear weapons (primarily) at a conference in May 2022. This paper fits with my on-going research on symbolism and Visual Packaging Culture, and also builds on the work I have done about disaster narratives (e.g. Disaster Narratives by Design: Is Japan Different?).
To aid with the research I have recently been watching a number of movies and TV programmes that contain nuclear images. One of these was the DVD “Protect and Survive”. As noted with the DVD description,
In the mid-1970s, the British government secretly made a series of information films to tell the public how to prepare for nuclear war. They would be broadcast on terrestrial television if a nuclear exchange seemed unavoidable. Thankfully, they were never aired, and remained unseen. Recently declassified, they are collected here on this unique DVD and make for fascinating – if terrifying – viewing.
The main “Protect and Survive” section of the DVD was what I particularly interested to see in relation to my research. It was actually very odd listening to it as the announcements were recreated in 1984 and included on the “Annihilation mix” of “Two Tribes” by Frankie Goes To Hollywood and it was odd not to hear the music kick in at the appropriate point. Having watched it through, especially with the war on Ukraine on-going, it was hard not to expect to hear the air raid warning going off in Cardiff. Both things also led me to further question everything that I had grown up learning about in relation to a nuclear deterrence – after all, if I was expecting to hear the siren, doesn’t that show that I don’t believe in the UK’s nuclear deterrence? Furthermore, given the discussion that was going on in Japan that week about whether Japan would ever have nuclear weapons (something that comes up also in my novel Hijacking Japan) I reflected on the fact that if a leader makes it clear that they wouldn’t use such weapons (if they had them) (such as current Japanese PM Kishida), then by default the deterrence element is completely lost.
For my research the “Protect and Survive” DVD was really helpful as not only did the main “Protect and Survive” prove as useful as I hoped for my research (the image below being the sort of thing that I was looking for), the DVD also contains some other films (The Waking Point, Sound an Alarm, The Warden and the Housekeeper) that I was not familiar with and they were also helpful in boosting the number of materials that I can include in my study.
I have put together a post with a list of the movies and programmes that I am including in my study. I would really appreciate it if you could take a look at the list and contact me if you can think of others that I should include.