This essay sketches a dialogue between the government-sanctioned, nuclear “scare” films of the 50s and 60s and the dissident, nuclear-themed popular media of the same time period. Through their direct and indirect indictment of the government’s fallacious claims about the causes, effects, and survivability of nuclear war, these popular films served to shift the enabling dialogue of nuclearism so as to diminish the actual threat of war. While the positive effects of such dissident media were usually unintentional or else incidental, their success has nonetheless shown how to make anti-nuclear statements that are both viable and effective. Nuclear annihilation is unique in that it is a potentiality that gains inevitability through its own discussion, and so texts that wish to diminish its power need to address specific criteria outlined in the essay.

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