How a Clean, Tidy Home Can Help You Survive the Atomic Bomb: A Cold War Film from 1954

Last week, we revis­it­ed some Cold War pro­pa­gan­da that taught upstand­ing Amer­i­can cit­i­zens How to Spot a Com­mu­nist Using Lit­er­ary Crit­i­cism. It’s a gem, but it has noth­ing on the 1954 film, The House in the Mid­dle. Select­ed for preser­va­tion in the Nation­al Film Reg­istry by The Library of Con­gress, the short doc­u­men­tary makes the ulti­mate case for clean­li­ness. Bring­ing view­ers to the Neva­da Prov­ing Grounds, the 12-minute film shows what hap­pens when clean, white hous­es are sub­ject­ed to heat waves from an atom­ic blast, ver­sus what hap­pens when a dingy, ill-kept house goes through the same drill. It turns out that neat peo­ple can not only claim moral vic­to­ry (as they always do). They also get to live anoth­er day. Con­sid­er it proof of the sur­vival of the tidi­est.

The film was pro­duced by the Nation­al Clean Up-Paint Up-Fix Up Bureau with sup­port from the Fed­er­al Civ­il Defense Admin­is­tra­tion. The Nation­al Paint, Var­nish and Lac­quer Asso­ci­a­tion also appar­ent­ly played a role, sug­gest­ing that cor­po­rate inter­ests were cap­i­tal­iz­ing on wartime fear. Not the first time that’s hap­pened in Amer­i­ca. Or that last…

If you would like to sign up for Open Culture’s free email newslet­ter, please find it here. Or fol­low our posts on Threads, Face­book, BlueSky or Mastodon. If you would like to sup­port the mis­sion of Open Cul­ture, con­sid­er mak­ing a dona­tion to our site. It’s hard to rely 100% on ads, and your con­tri­bu­tions will help us con­tin­ue pro­vid­ing the best free cul­tur­al and edu­ca­tion­al mate­ri­als to learn­ers every­where. You can con­tribute through Pay­Pal, Patre­on, and Ven­mo (@openculture). Thanks!

Relat­ed Con­tent:

An Sur­vival Guide to the Post Apoc­a­lypse (NSFW)

Duck and Cov­er, or: How I Learned to Elude the Bomb

Hiroshi­ma After the Atom­ic Bomb in 360 Degrees

by | Permalink | Comments (3) |

Sup­port Open Cul­ture

We’re hop­ing to rely on our loy­al read­ers rather than errat­ic ads. To sup­port Open Cul­ture’s edu­ca­tion­al mis­sion, please con­sid­er mak­ing a dona­tion. We accept Pay­Pal, Ven­mo (@openculture), Patre­on and Cryp­to! Please find all options here. We thank you!

Comments (3)
You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.

Leave a Reply

Open Culture was founded by Dan Colman.