Dr. Strangelove and the Futility of the Cold War Essay

1.      In the real world, Dr. Strangelove might represent Edward Teller who is considered as the father of the hydrogen bomb. President Merkin Muffley represents Adlai Stevenson, a liberal democrat in American politics. General Buck Turgidson represents Curtis LeMay, a United States Air Force General. General Jack D. Ripper apparently represents the infamous Jack the Ripper.

2.      The theme of sexuality is prevalent in Dr. Strangelove primarily because the film’s theme of war is being compared, among others, to sexual behaviors. For instance, the failure of the B-52 Bomber crew to finally drop the “essence” on the target enemy after a long time of preparing and arming the bomb—like that of a sexual “foreplay”—reflects the idea of being sexually impotent even after all the preparations, so to speak. Because of the film’s satirical tone, it is therefore not that hard to see the parallels between sexual impotence and the United States of America’s failure to totally annihilate the Soviet Union as far as the film is concerned.

3.      Stanley Kubrick’s use of numerous sports terminologies and metaphors in the film reflect the comparison of war to that of a game. Like in any other game, there are winners and losers in every war. To a certain extent, it is also likely that there are “ties” in every game in much the same way that there are both “losing” sides to every war. Since wars make use of a nation’s vast amount of resources, parties in conflict are most likely than not to lose a significant amount of their resources from war weaponries to human lives. Seeing nuclear war as a game, Kubrick is implicitly saying that the first one to strike the opposing side is also most likely to take control of the game although the failure to deliver, in a manner of speaking, can also take its toll on the “game’s” first striker. The failure of the B-52 bomber to drop the bomb on Soviet soil clearly suggests that idea.

4.      Jack D. Ripper’s concern about fluoridation and on his political well being’s dependency on denying women his “essence” reflect mainstream fear towards Communism during the Cold War era. More specifically, the fear that the Soviet Union was out to extinguish American democracy was prevalent during the Cold War years. There was a great fear towards the expansion of the Soviet Union’s communist ideals to the Western hemisphere, with the Soviet seeking the “essence” of the American ideal of democracy and using it to further its end of advancing communism on foreign shores, more specifically the United States. To deny women his (Jack D. Ripper’s) essence is seen in the same way as denying the Soviet the chance to proliferate its communist expansion and, therefore, to make America a communist country.

5.      Ironic statements in the film such as “Peace is our Profession” billboard in the army base illustrate the absurdity of a nuclear war. It points us to the idea that there are hardly any real winners in a nuclear war; there are only losers. Taking the path of war is also absurd in proclaiming it as the way towards attaining peace among cold enemies. On the contrary, taking the path of war to advance peace is a futile attempt to achieve harmonious relationships with other people who do not essentially share the same beliefs with others. The absurdity of the Cold War is that, while both America and the Soviet Union are outracing one another in stockpiling nuclear weapons, there was no real war on ground. All the while that both countries were busy hoarding missiles to prove to the other that they are powerful and, therefore, dangerous, they forgot that they were preparing for a destructive war. Instead of unleashing their weapons, they merely created hundreds of nuclear weapons for public display and intimidation. The Cold War was a fruitless war to begin with. In the end, the Cold War was all the more pointless as the film strongly suggests. The Cold War was, after all, all bark and no bite.

Reference

Kubrick, S. (Writer) (1964). Dr. Strangelove. In S. Kubrick (Producer). United Kingdom/United States: Columbia Pictures.