Anxiety over nuclear radiation isn't new, and purveyors of pop culture have profited handsomely. But even with more serious films on the subject, the public is still largely ignorant of the science.
Photo illustration/FogStock LLC/Newscom/File
Fears about radiation escaping from the crippled Japanese nuclear power plant are encircling the globe.
But while this worry over unseen dangers may complicate life for government and corporate officials outside Japan, it isn’t new. Nuclear anxiety has been around almost since the dawn of the atomic age – and pop culture purveyors have exploited it richly since the advent of mass media.
Films such as the Godzilla franchise that began in 1954 depicted the first radiation-mutated lizard destroying Tokyo in the Japanese version, and the “Incredible Shrinking Man” in 1957 showed a sailor who navigates through a mysterious cloud and soon shrinks to nothing.
Comic books from this era are rife with radiation themes, from the ubiquitous Spider-Man, who is born from the bite of a radiated spider, to the Hulk, who emerges from a lab experiment gone wrong.
Page 1 of 4