FALSE ALARM: Hawaii Prepared for incoming ICBM

Updated 4 years ago by Tony E. Rutherford, News Editor

The unspeakable nearly happened for the people of Hawaii. At least, they were confronted with the "what do I do" portion.

At 8:07 a.m. (Hawaiian Time) an emergency message went out that "this is not a drill... take shelter" due to an incoming missile. 

Since the North Korean tests have put the island and other countries such as Guam , Japan, and South Korea on notice , the now described 'mistake'  jolted the populace. One video shows a presumed father placing his young daughter down inside a storm drain.

FALSE ALARM: Hawaii Prepared for incoming ICBM

Officially, during a shift change, the warning button was accidently pressed that activated alerts to cell phones, TV and radio. For the short term, the question is fixing the system so such an 'accident' by apparently one person cannot occur again.

Speculate what you will --- the mainstream media will do that forever --- a cinematic perspective until a barrage of real-life phone , computer and You Tube videos surface offer a hint.

Incidentally, for historic consideration, the alarms of the Peal Harbor attack came at 7:48 a.m. Hawaiian time Dec. 7, 1941 with the USS West Virginia the first ship to go down.  One hundred eighty-eight U.S. aircraft were destroyed; 2,403 Americans were killed (68 civilians)  and 1,178 others were wounded.

Due to the pumped up nuclear war possibilities, the New York Times on August 10, 2017 published "9 Movies About Nuclear War" , a film disaster genre that thrived in the 60s, 70s, and 80s when Russia (and to a lesser extinct China) were the potential bad guys. 

Their story begins:

"A common thread among movies about the threat of nuclear war is that it could only start through madness, human error or some combination of the two because no sane leader would deliberately follow through on an act of mutually assured destruction...."

FALSE ALARM: Hawaii Prepared for incoming ICBM

Stanley Kubrick's "Dr. Strangelove" and "Fail Safe" have a similar premise --- a rogue general ordering an attack (satire) and a mistaken go code from a computer glitch (president played by Henry Fonda). 

Most of these Cold War films have an immediately before (the blast) or are set some years (perhaps decades) following blasts that turned Earth into Hell.

Aside from the TV big budget "The Day After," many films addressing immediate survival were B-pictures, such as "Panic in Year O," in which a family heading to mountains near L.A. for a  vacation click into survival mode led by Ray Milland. This "Panic" addresses lawlessness, not radioactive fallout. A film titled "Year 2889," has a small group of survivors  at a rural farm praying that rain (which brings fallout) does not come too soon.

This is Not a Test
This is Not a Test

Others "Five," and "This is not a Test." 

Many of these film divert to a "Night of the Living Dead" zombie scenario where the unlucky that did not turn to ashes became vampires or flesh eating mutants. "I am Legend" and "Omega Man" are two examples. 

The Cold War Civil Defense educational school "duck and cover" flicks dwelled on blast survival , not the danger of radioactivity. 

Messages to shelter in place (or in the best place findable in 15 minutes) presume a close proximity to ground zero. Left unsaid, unless you're in a concrete bunker, you're toast. 

For those "lucky" enough to not be vaporized, their survival mission is don't go outside , avoid the invisible nuclear radiation, and find uncontaminated food, water, and a couple extra sets of clothes. 

A tweet Saturday indicated "we're with Magic Johnson" brought a smile, but they may have been the most prepared for survival. Perhaps, Magic had a blast shelter and had become invited guests.

Panic in Year Zero
Panic in Year Zero

Science fiction writer, Philip ("When Worlds Collide", "Generation of Vipers") Wylie wrote "Tomorrow" (developed as a radio drama of two cities  ---one prepared, one unprepared--- for nuclear war) and "Triumph," serialized in Saturday Evening Post in which the only North American survivors of  dirty maximum casualty  destruction live in a very deep bomb shelter hoping to secure rescue). Two of his works place him into a forward thinking category. His short story, "Paradise Crater," put him under house arrest for imagining Nazi's acquiring a U-237 weapon (months before the US tested its first nuke) and "The Disappearance" (a 1951 novel that discussed male and female relationships, women's rights, and homosexuality).

Wylie's novels come closest to imagining the difficulties post explosion. "Tomorrow" does resemble "Day After."

FALSE ALARM: Hawaii Prepared for incoming ICBM

"Triumph's" survivalists are the beneficiaries of a very wealthy man's obsession and completion of a multi-million dollar deep shaft shelter filled with food, water and supplies. Wylie wrote "Triumph" in 1963 long before any knowledge of the then top secret  Greenbrier Congressional shelter.  Unlike others, the never filmed "Triumph" focuses on the confinement stresses and relation dysfunction inside one of the safest venues on the planet. 

( Recently, some filmmakers have touched on this approach arising from the long missing female held captive scenario.)

A few of the Bomb (fallout) shelter survival in the pure sense (avoiding the zombie spins) have been "The Divide" (2011), where sanctuary becomes living hell for strangers trapped after a sudden attack; "Air" (2015) wherein mankind's best mind's hibernate awaiting toxic air to clear); and "Take Shelter" (2011). where a young father obsessively constructs a shelter (anyone remember Noah?). 

No article recalling the Cold War (and it's film genre) would be complete without a nod to "On the Beach." Here, the war has happened, the fallout spread, and the radiation sickness prevention (i.e. suicide) pills handed out. Yet, a US sub receives a unintelligible signal from San Francisco. The crew votes to investigate. Likely, you've seen it. So, let the "accidental" Hawaiian message be a reminder --- "there's still time, brother (and sister)."