Intellects small and uncool but still unsympathetic…

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Siberians allegedly mistake a tornado for the second coming of Tom Cruise and Steven Spielberg:

People in the Khabarovsk region of Siberia jumped into their cars and fled their homes in panic when the freak wind arrived out of nowhere, flattening trees and destroying property.

They blamed the fear of an alien invasion on the recent showing of the Tom Cruise epic.

Natalia Lukash, spokesperson for Russia's Far-Eastern Emergency Situations Centre, said: "It was a strange phenomenon and many people jumped to the wrong conclusion and believed it had been caused by alien space ships landing in the area."

Much as I'd like to believe this one, I suspect it's either bogus or, like the story of the nationwide panic over Orson Welles' 1938 War of the Worlds broadcast, vastly exaggerated. Ms. Lukash, who I'm sure is in every other respect a credit to the Far-Eastern Emergency Situations Centre (doesn't that sound like the kind of place John Agar would have been working at in Invisible Invaders?), is the only source for the alien-panic interpretation. A garden variety tornado would provide incentive enough for most people to want to run away.

Why is The War of the Worlds such a reliable generator of false-panic stories? Orson Welles deserves some credit as a news-media parodist for hoodwinking people in 1938, but why is this the literary property people are willing to believe is true (or more accurately, believe other people believe is true), rather than Rosemary's Baby or Jack Finney's The Body Snatchers or, more to the point of today's story, The Wonderful Wizard of Oz? (I guess you'd also have to include the spate of "a real-life Home Alone!" stories that hit the news in the early '90s.)

NEXT: This Land Is Green Land

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  1. Why is The War of the Worlds such a reliable generator of false-panic stories?

    Because the Martians hate freedom.

  2. How do you know it WASN’T Tom Cruise? Apparently a Clear, in touch with his Inner Thetan, is one baaaaaaaad and dangerous motherfucker.

  3. Because the Martians hate freedom.

    LOL! Yeah, they used to hate Great Britain, but now they hate America even more, which of course explains why they attacked Siberia. 😉

  4. I dunno, it just looks like a poorly reported story to me, and apparently timed this way because Siberians hate the Fantastic Four. Thanks for the link to the National Geographic article, though; I always love reading about Orson Welles.

  5. Alien invasions are inevitable.

  6. Interestingly, Google has never heard of Ms. Lukash, nor of the “Far-Eastern Emergency Situations Centre” (granted, if I could search in Russian, I might have better luck). I also see that none of the Google News links to the story has any byline. I’m thinking the entire story is a hoax.

  7. Why is The War of the Worlds such a reliable generator of false-panic stories?

    Tim,

    I would guess that’s because it’s written in such a way that reminds people of real disasters.

  8. Jennifer-
    If Tom Cruise is such a badass Clear, how come we all didn’t think it was a Psychlo invasion?

    Besides, it’s obvious the Siberians know nothing about 4GW.

  9. Can’t say that I blame the Siberians for panicking. After all, this could have been a precursor to the biggest trans-dimensional cross-rip since the Tunguska Blast of 1909!

    (Well, 1908, but I think the Russians used different calendars back then and… ah, screw it.)

  10. Just remember not to cross the beams Ray!

  11. he’s sailor, he’s in Vladivostok…

  12. Zool!

  13. Ananova? A hoax? Unbelievable.

  14. When my local paper did its review of the movie, under the accompanying publicity photo some wag of a caption-writer wrote: “We were unable to confirm reports that mobs of St. Louisans roamed the streets in blind panic upon hearing that Tom Cruise was starring in a remake of The War of the Worlds.”

    (One of our movie reviewers has a pretty sly sense of deadpan humor. In an article about a crop of upcoming movies based on old TV shows, he wrote something like: “Also in the pipeline is a movie version of The Dukes of Hazzard. The TV original, aficionados will recall, told the story of a family of dashing British nobility who slipped out of their castle to perform various feats of hazardous derring-do. In the movie version, they have been re-imagined as a bunch of hotrodding rednecks.”)

  15. If Tom Cruise is such a badass Clear, how come we all didn’t think it was a Psychlo invasion?

    Because unllike Russia, we in America have enough badass clears of our own to protect us from psychiatric mass hallucinations. Thank you, Kirstie Alley! Thank you, John Travolta! Better yet, thank Xenu for gracing our lives with such wise and talented celebrities.

    (Is Xenu the good guy or the bad guy in Scientology? I can never remember.)

  16. Jennifer, Jennifer, Jennifer

    you’re glib

    Do you know the history of psychiatric mass hallucinations? Because I do.

  17. Temujin, Temujin, Temujin.
    The ability to be glib is what separates us from the animals. And Lord knows, we need all the separation we can get.

  18. temujin334 sounds like he may have some, err, first-hand experience with the subject.

    Do tell, t.

  19. Jennifer,

    Xenu is the evil intergalatic dictator that infested us with alien ghosts/spirits and denied us our godlike powers! You’ve not be keeping on your “Operation Clambake” reading, have you? 🙂

  20. Thank you, Hakluyt. In that case, let me edit my previous comment to say “Thanks, Xenu, for Kirstie Alley and John Travolta. Thanks a lot. You jackass.”

  21. Stevo,

    A friend of mine asked his brother if “The Shawshank Redemption” was any good, and what it was about. He told him that it was a great movie, the story of the Shawshank Indians, and how they were driven off their land…

  22. Jennifer,

    Remember, Hubbard didn’t die! No sir! He left his body and moved to another galaxy!

  23. Sorry about that earlier post, I was having a Matt Lauer flashback.

    If my memory is correct, Xenu was the one who stacked all the coma induced beings beside the volcanoes before detonating the nuclear devices.

  24. This Xenu sounds like a real bastard. Murdering comatose people inside a nuclear volcano is one thing, but KEEPING L. RON HUBBARD ALIVE? That’s going waaaaaaaay too far.

  25. Ah, the Shawshank Indians. A proud people. A proud, blow-job-demanding people.

    As they were driven off their land, the neighboring tribes stood around looking in grim, stony silence beneath the guns of the watchful US army soldiers. And then … Clap. Clap. Clap. Clap, clap, clap, clap, clap…

    No, wait. I think I’m completely mixing this up with Brubaker. Dammit.

  26. In light of the direction this thread has taken, I think the real question Tim C. should have asked is why the entire Battlefield Earth series hasn’t been a reliable generator of false panic? I mean aside from the panic of Kaite Holmes’ fiancee.

  27. Because we man-animals aren’t smart enough to recognize the very real danger ‘Battlefield Earth’ represents.

  28. Xenu is the evil intergalatic dictator that infested us with alien ghosts/spirits and denied us our godlike powers!

    NNNERRRDS!!

  29. Jeezus, Stevo you are killing me today. I hope my boss doesn’t wander in to my workspace again, because I keep bowling over covering my mouth, I’m laughing so hard.

  30. Jennifer,

    Remember, for only $350k you too can learn all the secrets of Scientology! You too can become an OT-8! 🙂

  31. Sorry, I screwed up the link.

  32. back to the Sea Org with you!

  33. Why hasn’t anyone pointed out the typo in the headline? “Intellects small and and uncool but still unsympathetic…”?

  34. SR,

    I thought about pointing it out, but then I forgot to. Plus, maybe Tim is a Latin geek and was intentionally using polysyndeton as a literary device.

  35. Why hasn’t anyone pointed out the typo in the headline? “Intellects small and and uncool but still unsympathetic…”?

    I never even noticed it. Funny how the mind works – have you ever seen that paragraph where you’re supposed to count the number of f’s and almost nobody gets it right?

  36. Headline fixed. Thanks.

  37. I’m thinking the entire story is a hoax

    You seem to have mispelled deliberate PR plant.

  38. Why is everyone here making fun of America’s greatest actor, psychopharmacology expert, and heterosexual?

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