On November 2, 1983, a nationwide radio station broadcast a radio show that was based on the best seller, War of the Worlds, by H.G. Wells. The play was performed by many people, namely Orsen Wells and John Houseman. It was during a time when the radio was the primary source of entertainment. People throughout America tuned in to listen to their favorite radio show or for some music to dance to, but instead heard a special news bulletin reporting that Martians were landing on Earth. The Martians were first sited in Groves Mill, New Jersey and reports spread that they had also landed in Chicago, Illinois. These reports caused hysteria and paranoia everywhere, mainly in New Jersey and Illinois. The play aired the voice of a man, which sounded like the president’s. A few hours later, the people found out that these were not actual reports, but just a play being performed on the radio. What caused a civilized group of people to act in such a crazed manner?
At the time, Franklin Delanor Roosevelt was the president. Over in Europe, Adolf Hitler had taken control and was looking towards invading more countries and terrorizing more people. President Roosevelt was debating whether to go to war or not. Most of the American people did not go to war, but some of them did. Many Americans had relatives in Germany or in Czechoslovakia. Everyone was extremely worried and stressed out due to war threats and viewed everything that went on around them as a sign that war would break out. Therefore, when the people heard the news of Martians they went absolutely insane.
On September 21, 1983, about six weeks before the broadcast, a vicious hurricane hit the New York and Long Island area. Seven hundred people were killed, with over four hundred million dollars of property destroyed. Somewhere around ninety-one percent of those properties were uninsured. Many people in the tri-state area had just lost their homes, and later hear that Martians are invading Earth. When these people, who were still in shock from the hurricane, heard the news, they went into a state of panic.
In 1938, ten million of the thirteen million Americans were unemployed, which was nearly eight percent of the population. These people were unsure whether they would survive financially, thought that Martians were landing and would be impossible for them to survive. They were striding towards getting a job and supporting their family, but their hopes and dreams were being shattered by the threat of Martians.
The American citizens in 1983 were hit with an onslaught of depressing and nerve-racking situations. Two of these Americans decided to create a cartoon character named “Superman.” He had the strength to lift any object. To him, every problem could be solved quite easily. These two men, Joe Schuster and Jerry Siegel wished that they could get rid of their problems as easily and quickly as he could. “Superman” was a sign of hope in a time of bad luck and tough situations. It does not come as much of a surprise why country reacted as they did, as we look back at the events that occurred during this time.