I hadn’t realized, until seeing this 1954 PSA The House In the Middle, that the possibility of nuclear apocalypse was apparently welcomed as an opportunity to bolster American housekeeping. “A house that’s neglected,” it explains, “is the house that may be doomed, in the atomic age.” No surprise then, is there, that the film was sponsored by the National Paint, Varnish and Lacquer Association?
“In the house on the right are all the hallmarks of untidy housekeeping—newspapers and magazines lying about. And cluttered tables. Now the house on the left is identical to the other but spic and span. Trash has been thrown away. Tabletops are tidy. Two homes, one a firetrap, even under ordinary conditions, the other cleaned up and fresh with better, safer housekeeping, both ready for the test bomb.”
Guess how they fare in the blast..?
It really does appear, watching this, that there was a Fifties effort to slyly substitute God with the atom bomb—and use the latter’s constant shadow to enforce almost Victorian values, as if a nuclear blast could be counted on to perform a kind of reverse rapture, ripping the sinful from the face of the earth (presuming that those who like to play it fast and loose with old newspapers and magazines could be described as “sinful”), and leaving behind, if not the good, then the irreproachably anally retentive, who would surely know the very zenith of schadenfreude when their neighbors were incinerated upon the sword of their own slovenliness!
Hearty thanks to “Dr” Ian Klinke