Chris' Dr. Nihilism
My reading of the t he film Dr. Strangelove was that it is a statement about powerholders in Cold War America and the citizenry. THe film creates the impression in its viewers that the power holders, and the citizenry who are supposed to keep them in check, are infantilized, decadent, and that is dangerous for the world during the cold war and is irresponsible on part of those in power :Americans.
There are several points in the story where men in power are shown indulging in pubescent curiosities. First, The pilot of the jet carrying a nuclear bomb is shown looking at a Playboy magazine and eating. Later on the same plane, a man opens a safe with several envelopes marked "top secret" and pasted to the inside door are several pictures of women in bikinis. One of the presidents advisors is in a relationship with a woman in her early twenties who is clearly intended to be a sex object. During a meeting with the president's cabinet the same advisor's girlfiend calls and he tells her "I can't talk to you baby. I deeply respect you as a human being." This is not the activity of mature leaders who have a sense of urgency and duty during a time of crisis and is highly representative of the decay of adult maturity into an adolescent ideology for those in power and it couldn't have come at a worse time.
The characters in the stoy are very small minded, even anti-intellectual. General Jack Ripper tells a colleague "today war is too important to be left to politicians. They have neither the time, the training, nor the inclination for strategic thought." What he is saying is that there is no more room for diplomacy but he hasn't proved anything. He is just talking directly out of his ideology as a military man. Also, the American president calls the Russian president or Czar and has a ridiculously petty bourgeios housewife like conversation. "I'm glad you are fine. I'm fine too. I'm glad we are both fine." The examples in the film of those in power being small minded are supposed to remind us that our elected official are not above being idiots. That has proven deadly. Although if that's not clear now, it may never be!
The men in power are also created to be unscrupulous, and so is the public. For instance, when the presidential advisor's mistress calls him during the meeting, no one seems to notice. Not even the President! When the American President chats with "Alexi" some kind of Russian ambassador I think, he is informed about a nuclear weapon that is designed to detonate itself including if someone ever tries to disarm it. Exclaiming about the idea being mad he questions why they would ever build such a device. The ambassador tells him "there are of course those of us who fought against it, but in the end we couldn't catch up with the cost of the arms race, the space race, adn the peace race. At the same time our people grumbled for more nylons and washing machines." It is no irony that those who fought against a device being built were not successful because of material distractions. It is as such even today with demonstrations or lack there of. During the film the idea that the publiic forcing the government never enters the picture. That in itself is highly indicative too of an unscrupulous public. The theme is indicative that in our AMerican democracy there is a significant deterioration occuring in our willingness to see ourselves and our situation in a critical light in order to make smart choices.
small minded, unscrupulous, and adolescent.