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The 1964 Stanley Kubrick movie Dr. Strangelove is the classic dark comedy of the Cold War, a preposterously humorous take on global apocalypse. Set against the backdrop of inescapable Armageddon, the entirely human foibles and obsessions of its various protagonists stand out as absurdly petty, and give the movie its quirky and subversive charm.
In the movie, US strategic bombers race toward Russia under the command of a crazy American general. The President and his men gather in the War Room and do everything they can to prevent the errant bombers from achieving their objective of dropping nuclear weapons on the USSR and, in the process, triggering the Soviets’ doomsday device that will extinguish all life on Earth.
So the stakes are, you know, pretty high.
In an effort to reassure the Soviets, the President invites Russian Ambassador Alexi de Sadesky into the War Room. This prompts an objection from red-blooded American General “Buck” Turgidson (George C. Scott), who is afraid that the Russian will “see the big board,” the situation board on the War Room wall. Turgidson goes so far as to make a transparently obvious attempt to plant a camera on the Russian in hopes of incriminating the man and having him ejected.
The attempt fails. But, in what I think is one of the funniest small gags of the film, toward the end of the movie as the bombs are about to rain down and the end of the world is moments away, the Russian can be seen surreptitiously using his own tiny camera to take pictures of “the big board.” Because he can’t help himself. It’s in his nature.
The United States is in a very real crisis. Whether or not the disease is serious enough to warrant the economic loss our actions have precipitated, the loss is real. The deaths are real. The impact on our lives is real. We are in an extraordinary time, a backdrop against which the pettiness of small men should appear anachronistic and unworthy of the moment.
Yet our nation’s press can not help itself, and a people desperate for information are subjected instead to 24/7 gotcha “journalism” in the media’s relentless, obsessive, tortured pursuit of the great orange whale.Published in