Destination Earth: The Greatness of American Civilization Revealed in 1950s Sci-Fi Cartoon

Many sci-fi tales go something like this: The human race travels into the great unknown, deep outer space, and encounters beings with forces greater than its own. Greater fire power. Greater intelligence. Greater technological ability. But, in Destination Earth, the standard narrative gets flipped on its head. Here, Martians come to Earth — the United States actually — and discover a vastly superior civilization. A civilization superior because it enjoys an endless supply of petroleum (used to make gas, tires, toothbrushes, cosmetics and insecticides) and the capitalist spirt of competition. Now, Sherlock, if you’re thinking this isn’t your average Saturday morning cartoon, I’d say you’re onto something. Destination Earth was the creation of The American Petroleum Institute, still the biggest lobby for the U.S. oil and gas industry. And the film was shot in 1956, smack dab in the middle of the Cold War. If you think Mars, the red planet, might be a proxy for the Soviet Union (and Ogg looks like Stalin), you might be the new James Bond.

Destination Earth appears in the Animation section of our collection of 500 Free Movies Online. For more vintage propaganda cartoons, check out: Donald Duck’s Bad Nazi Dream and Four Other Disney Propaganda Cartoons from World War II.

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