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(Real) Terrorism trading cards (for kids)

trading card
Is he smiling? Did they depict him smiling? Are they trying to teach children or haunt their dreams?
Millions of children all over the world are forced to learn about terrorism through first-hand experience, often before they’re old enough to grasp the geopolitical context of the violence. But what about those poor kids who grow up without that kind of hands-on education? What’s the best way to fill young minds with the horrors of war, colonialism, and oppression? Why, trading cards, of course! And that’s exactly what the Piedmont Candy Company did in 1987, with… somewhat problematic results.
trading card
Mussolini was a fascist dictator, and while he used terror tactics during his reign, “fascist dictator” is a higher, more historically relevant ranking. Plus, by 1987, he had been dead for over 40 years. He looks good on a card, but this is clearly phoned it. Try harder, Piedmont Candy Company.
trading card
“The Irish have been waging war against England for hundreds of years.” Really, Piedmont Candy Company? Really?!? That’s your read on anti-English sentiment among the Irish?
trading card
I feel like the fact that they mention the “safety” of bombs twice before telling kids how dangerous they are is a bit counterintuitive. (Really kids! Don’t make bombs yourself, but they’re super-safe, so if you happen to come across one, go to town!)
trading card
To answer your speculative question, no. No, they were not going to bomb the Statue of Liberty. You’re welcome.
trading card
Call me a snob, but I find it difficult to take your assessment of Iranian politics seriously when you can’t spell “Shiite” correctly.
trading cards
Jesus fucking Christ!
Lacing children’s candy with ahistoric, fear-mongering propaganda isn’t enough? You have to make them bloodthirsty, too? If you’re trying to turn them into little killing machines, why not just put angel dust, steroids, and bath salts in the chewing gum?
trading card
Wait, weren’t you just advocating for the liberal use of nuclear weapons?!? “No one is overly anxious to use them!” First of all, I’m quite sure you mean “overly eager,” not “overly anxious.” Second of all, you are overly eager to use them, Piedmont Candy Company! You are the terrifying example of nuke-happy psychos!

The insidious nature of sneaking ignorant, paranoid, violent nationalism into trading cards is baffling, and yet somehow simultaneously totally unsurprising. I wonder if the economic realities of 1987 Detroit didn’t add fuel to the panicked, reactionary fire—international politics have always been a convenient distraction from extreme poverty and wealth inequality. Regardless, I’m somewhat comforted that we’re not seeing anything quite this indoctrinating being lobbed at kids nowadays.

And if there is, please don’t tell me! Let me live in a world where candy is still sweet! 

Via Organic Mechanic

Posted by Amber Frost | Leave a comment
Peter Watkins’ ‘The War Game’, 1965

You had 3 minutes to close the windows, pull the curtains, fill basins with water, then collect together foodstuffs, torches and radios, before removing the door from its hinges, leaning it against a wall, covering with cushions or sandbags, and sheltering with your loved ones underneath.

Three minutes.

Time enough for one last smoke, and a tumbler of that 25-year-old Macallan - a dash of spring water, no ice.

At school in the 1970s, we were shown Civil Defense Films on flickering Super 8 projectors that depicted the seeming inevitability of nuclear war. Now it’s localized terrorism, back then it was the annihilation of the country, the planet, us.

Of course, through time, we became inured to all of that, and the thought of an all-out nuclear war became a hovering shadow - sometimes we noticed it, sometimes not. It only seemed real when presented as a film The Day After, or as a TV drama, Threads. But it would have hit home hardest, if the BBC had ignored the pressure from the Labour government, and shown Peter Watkins’ film The War Game.

The BBC withdrew the film from its planned transmission on August 6 1965, the twentieth anniversary of Hiroshima, claiming:

“...the effect of the film has been judged by the BBC to be too horrifying for the medium of broadcasting…”

“Too horrifying” was one of the reasons it should have been aired. Instead we were shown those strangely surreal Civil Defense Films, Duck and Cover, Protect and Survive, in dusty, distracted classrooms, where they had little lasting effect.

The War Game was given a limited cinema release, making it eligible for the Oscars, where it won the Best Documentary Feature award in 1966. Watkins was so outraged by the BBC’s cavils, that he quit the UK for Sweden, and continued to make his distinct, powerful and political films - most recently La Commune (2000), a “6-hour re-enactment of the 1871 Paris Commune which examined the role of media in the modern global economy.”

With The War Game, Watkins continued his:

...experiments in blending fiction and documentary techniques which he had begun with his earlier play Culloden (1964), Watkins presented data drawn from his detailed research - encompassing interviews, Civil Defence documents, scientific studies and accounts of the effects of the Hiroshima and Nagasaki blasts and the non-nuclear devastation of Dresden, Hamburg and other cities during World War II - in the form of charts, quotes and vox-pop style face-to-face interviews with ordinary people. These he embedded into his own imagined scenario of the impact of a blast in Kent following the escalation of an East-West conflict.

The War Game was eventually transmitted in Britain on July 31 1985.

Bonus Civil Defense Films, after the jump…
With thanks to Damien Smith

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment