6. Nihilism is the philosophical doctrine that life is meaningless and that there is no deep order or purpose to the universe. What are the nihilistic elements of the film? Are there any contrary elements of the film that undermine a general nihilistic theme? What, if any, are the political implications of the film's treatment of nihilism?
The film "The Atomic Café" brilliantly portrays the habitual life in U.S. society during the Cold War. The Cold War was a period of tension between the United States and the Soviet Union, the two main superpowers at the time. During the war both parties developed nuclear weapons and therefore assured each other mutual destruction. This constant threat led the American society to become extremely paranoid and chaotic at times. Nihilism is the "general rejection of customary beliefs in morality, religion etc." It is also "the philosophical doctrine that life is meaningless and there is no deep order or purpose to the universe." The film contains many nihilistic elements that allow the viewer to imagine the sociological problems and the political complications at the time while still depicting some noon-nihilistic issues present in society to and the negative effects of this philosophy on the political spectrum. "The Atomic Café" is a type of documentary that depicts the social situation of the United States during the Cold War. It shows the general attitude of the average American citizen toward the war and the effect of the political conflict on ordinary life. It is definitely an anti-war war movie since it shows the negative side of the consequence of nuclear warfare on the general public and therefore convinces the viewer that nuclear war is ridiculous. The film shows various aspects of the negative results the Cold War had on society. "The Atomic Café" manages to illustrate the horrors of the Cold War and how afraid the American people were due to the threat of nuclear destruction leading to the nihilistic belief that life is meaningless and a general lack of moral values amongst the population. People knew and feared that there could be a nuclear explosion at any time causing them to constantly think about the dreadfulness of this event. In the film, a man and a woman were talking about the terrible injuries of nuclear explosions. They commented that it was "an awful gas that deforms you, it doesn't just kill you straight out, that's what's scary about it." Another example of the atrociousness of nuclear tests is when the direction of the airflow was not as the scientist predicted it would be; therefore the nuclear debris was drifting toward St. George. The town had to be under emergency regulations for a long period of nerve-wrecking time; the children had to have their outdoor recess cancelled and there was a profound anxiousness all through the town. This shows the immense change that the nuclear threats brought about on everyday life. After the American soldiers in the film had finished an atomic test, they got issued film badges that informed them if they were going to die depending on the amount of radiation they received. Soldiers' lives were constantly threatened by the worse death imaginable causing them and their families to worry relentlessly. The scary part was not only dying, but the way the commanders treated their death with such casualty that makes the viewer reject the idea of war during the film. That particular scene was an example of nihilism because it showed how invaluable a human life during the Cold War. The American people lived under constant fear during the Cold War, causing them to loose focus on the values and philosophies they had previously believed in since all of their time was wasted fretting over the possibility of their lives being shattered by nuclear destruction. There was no longer time or effort for rest, relaxation, religion, soul-searching and other activities that elevate one's spiritual level. Instead, people watched the news...
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