Fernsehen ohne Hoffnung

Them! (Formicula, USA 1954, Gordon Douglas)

©Warner Home Video

"When the apocalyptic threat of gigantic mutant ants [...] is televised, viewers stand aghast, gazing feebly at the small screen in bars, diners, and department store Windows. [...] This alarming moment from Gordon Douglas’s Them!, where an existential threat from an unfamiliar and seemingly invincible enemy is finally and fully acknowledged, is quite typical of science fiction films of the 1950s, when the political and cultural climate of the Cold War made America appear to be in a perpetual state of emergency. And yet, there is something inexplicably terrifying about it. For me this terror has little to do with the threat of the gigantic ants themselves. Rather, it is the fact that, at this catastrophic moment, television offers little hope or comfort. What I find most intriguing is that General O’Brien’s [Onslow Stevens] outsized face appears ominous on the tiny television frame, which magnifies the sense of impending catastrophe. What is supposed to be a reassuring site for communal gathering during times of social crisis itself turns into a source of scopic dread."

 Rashna Wadia Richards (2012): Cinematic Flashes. Cinephilia and Classical Hollywood. Bloomington, S. 161f.