Monday, March 15, 2010

Tbilisi as the new Grover's Mill, New Jersey?

Back in 1938, Orson Welles depicted, over the radio, a Martian landing at Grover's Mill, an unincorporated village in West Windsor Township, New Jersey in the United States. [See earlier IPBiz post on the proximity of Grover's Mill to Princeton University:
Can you spot the Martian? ]

Fast forward 72 years to 2010, and a 20-minute broadcast on 13 March 2010 on the Imedi TV station in the former Soviet state of Georgia showed footage of Russian tanks rolling into Georgia taken from the 2008 invasion and asserted that President Mikhael Saakashvili had been assassinated. Just as in 1938, the show was prefaced by a caveat that the report was not real, BUT just as in 1938, panic ensued.

The Christian Science Monitor reported:

People in villages bordering South Ossetia, which was invaded in the brief Russo-Georgian war two years ago, began evacuating and calls to emergency services skyrocketed, reports The Georgian Times. According to other reports, people placed emergency calls reporting heart attacks and rushed in a panic to buy bread.

The Imedi video misled not only ordinary people but also other media outlets, which took the video for reality. Channel 1 interrupted its scheduled programs for several minutes showing a live broadcast from its news studio while the GHN news agency reported that Russia had begun another invasion in its breaking news [...]

Opposition politicians and public figures rushed to the Imedi office to protest against the video too as it not only attacked Russia but also discredited the opposition. In the video the opposition loses the [May 30 Tbilisi mayoral] elections, riots in protest and then helps Russia invade.

**The fake newscast approach had been used BEFORE Welles. [See discussion of The War of the Worlds ]

As to the 1938 broadcast, in addition to Welles, the broadcast included Ray Collins, who would become well-known roughly 20 years later as Lieutenant Tragg on "Perry Mason." (just as Raymond Burr advanced from "King Kong.")

Welles' broadcast was based on the story "The War of the Worlds" by H.G. Wells, wherein the Martian invasion took place in Woking, England. Of IP themes, note
HG Wells and plagiarism


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