Niagara Gazette

April 24, 2013

BRADBERRY: The week the earth stood still

By Bill Bradberry
Niagara Gazette

Niagara Gazette — Only four years old when Klaatu and his metallic sidekick, Gort first landed on movie screens across the country in the wildly popular “The Day the Earth Stood Still” I was much too young to have seen and appreciated the initial release in 1951, but when I finally did see it on television ten or so years later, it left a lasting impression; it haunted me, it still does, but now more so.

The motion picture doesn’t frighten me in the same way that the way it did when I first saw it as a kid, now it inspires me, especially during Earth Week, especially now …

I suppose it might be safe to assume that most of us have seen it or the 2008 version at least once by now; I prefer the original, in fact, an old videotape version sits prominently in my library; I’ve probably watched it a few dozen times over the years, each time finding something particularly funny or profound about it, either way, I always find it topical to say the least.

Funny sometimes because the props look a little dated, but realistically, the costume and set designers actually did a great job with what they had to work with all those many years ago.

Profound, because of the subject matter, depending on how you interpret it; but, I mean really, what if a flying saucer were to actually land in Washington, D.C. assuming that has not already happened?

Would anyone even notice?

How would the television cable news networks and other media handle the arrival of a real UFO anywhere close to the planet, let alone its landing in the Nation’s Capital; can you imagine?

Suppose, just like in the movie, no one is able to blow it to smithereens; it’s impenetrable, unaffected by the most powerful weapons known to mankind, and worse, it just sits there looking ominously threatening.

Would the media, the military and Homeland Security treat it as a terrorist attack, a homegrown Second Amendment conspiracy to confiscate everyone’s guns? Could it be religious, a sign from heaven, or worse still, a visit from hell?

If what we witnessed from some of the non-stop, wall to wall alleged coverage last week in Boston is any example of what we might expect from some of those too eager to draw conclusions before they get the facts, we’d probably wind up in what former Vice President Dick Cheney called, “deep doo-doo” in reference to the real situation in North Korea.

Without spoiling the entire plot for the few who have not seen the film yet, a flying saucer lands on the Mall in Washington, D.C. The occupant, accompanied by a giant indestructible super-powered robot named Gort, bears a message for all humanity which he wants to deliver to Earth’s leaders, but the planet’s leaders, being as they can sometimes be, are, shall we say, “hard headed?”

Again, without giving away too many details in case you may want to see it, (SPOILER ALERT!) Gort steals the show making it perfectly clear by way of a very clear and convincing display of “his” immense, unmatched power, that Earth is effectively doomed if we don’t stop killing each other and the planet as well as everything around it in the process.

I was around when we inaugurated Earth Day on April 22, 1970. A good many people who were born ahead of me are not around today to see what became of the lofty ideas that birthed the movement to save the planet by changing our behavior and cleaning the place up.

The gradual awareness by some that we were poisoning ourselves, our children and the planet eventually led to the development of some strange political bedfellows and alliances including the creation of the much maligned and often demonized EPA, the well-intended toxic clean-up Super Funds and other measures, none of which have made the kind of difference we had hoped and prayed for yet, but there is still among the few, hope.

Sadly, as we orbit our destiny in this vast universe, Earth Week this year, April 17-24, 2013 saw the planet stand still for a moment as we bore witness to another kind of pollution, one that, like all the other toxins, threatens all of us; hatred, intolerance, a sickening violent disregard for life, and sorrowfully, even in the midst of Washington, D.C. a deafeningly silent reaction to the people’s pleas for peace.

Contact Bill Bradberry at