Bombs: Cinematic and OtherwisenWarGames; Written by LawrencenLasker and Walter F. Parkes; Directednby John Badham; MGM/UA.nConservatives do not want to blownup large portions of real estate on thisnplanet with thermonuclear devices.nConservatives do want to maintain traditionalnvalues, which they know is a wellnighnimpossible task for people who arenblinded, in constant pain, and who maynglow in the dark. Similarly, liberals donnot want to see the world turned intonsomething resembling a charcoal briquette,nif for no other reasons than thenfacts that they know (a) few, if any,nwould want to take a handout of scorchednearth and (b) it would be hard to financenthe infi-astructure required to processnthe dole. However, liberals and those tontheir left fail to realize that while thenAmerican people can be convinced tonfreeze or otherwise refrigerate arms,ntheir brothers and sisters in the SovietnUnion can’t even affect the oflScial marketnprice of pantyhose. To extrapolatenfrom the status quo, it’s easy to see thatnunilateral activities would result in a statenwherein those Americans of a leftist persuasionnwould be as influential as a liquornsalesman is in Salt Lake City today. Thesenrather obvious observations are motivatednby WarGames.nWarGames is presumably a messagemovienabout the current arms situation.nPresumably because if I didn’t knownthat it was accorded the influential wrapupnposition at the Cannes Film Festival, Inwould simply dismiss it as an updatednversion oiPail-Safe, and not a very goodnone: a Grade B-minus movie. The filmnseizes upon the current rage amongnyoung people: home computers, theirngame-playing capabilities in particular.nIn the film, a high school student manages,nthrough telephone lines, to hooknup his home system with one that is inncharge of firing all of the U.S. nuclearnarsenal once the President gives the finalncommand. Men used to turn the keysn38inChronicles of Cultarenand push the buttons, but testing showednthat 22% wouldn’t. The machine would.nWhat’s more, the computer, which wasnpreviously used simply to play war games,nis supposed to be able to target thenbombs more effectively than Homo sapiens.nA “glitch,” to use computerese,ndevelops: once the boy gets the big computernplaying “Global ThermonuclearnWar,” the machine starts playing fornkeeps. Eventually, the kid figures outnwhat is happening while scientists andnsoldiers are unaware—naturaUy. Evenmally,nthe world is saved—^for a while.nImplausibilities—^both technical andndramatic—^mar the film. For the sake ofnargument, I’U accept that the teenagernwas able to get into line contact with thencomputer throu^ his modem (modulatordemodulator,na device that permits computersnto communicate with each othernover phone lines). At one point, the MasternCylinder (to borrow an appropriatenappeUation from “Felix the Cat” cartoons,nwhich have as much sociopoliticalnsense as WarGames) contacts thenAtuirci anitjanenKivi-nlly. ihi- ILMIILTi)l;ilourof.Xmi-ri-n(.iin nuK’hiTS ilirnu};!) (IK- .SII id I nioii. jnDr. Ciarv’ Hnmiiinj;. ritiimi-il U) llii-1 iiitt-xlnSt Jilts to DlI’iT sDim- frcsli obscnaliDiisdiinour iinliiir prejiitlki-s a^ ilii- Sivii-tn.sysii’m. Ill parlkulur hi- coinphiiiK-il thatn.Vnii-riciins ]i:nf nii.sjiid^i-d Sovli-l tri-;itmi-nlnordisskli.-iit,s. l-!phiini'(l thi.s cxpi-rlnoil Kusshm I’lillurc:nMtisl SiiviL-i t;iii/t-i!s vii-\ ihcir ;tpprtjiniLiti-lynI.(Milluciiv’i.'(lissidcni.siTUK’h(IK-nKiiiii’ v.A ihi’ iii,iji)i-ii of :iiii’ri(.’;iii!-nii’W(‘(I hull- I’liiKlii iiiiil I>IIKT>I Uho wriilnID Niirlh ii.l :iin in llu- i-ar!)- l’J7ll’^nVilu ari-llK-n;only l.(K)()ai-tii.-illssidi-iit.snLiKKKAI. Cl I 11 Ri:nnnteen. On his video screen the boy cannsee two digital clocks: the Master Cylindernis providing data that show hownlong the “game” has been in process andnhow much time remains until The End.nThe frightened boy removes the telephonenhandset from the modem andnrips the phone cord out of its socket forngood measure. Still, the clocks remainnon the screen—blip, blip, blip—^whichnis something akin to taking a light bulbnout of its socket and still getting lumensnfrom it. There are undoubtedly morentechnical monstrosities in the film.nCharacterization isn’t much morendeft. For example, Badham uses one ofnthe oldest stereotypes: the wacky professor.nThe genius who programmed thenMaster Cylinder decided to drop out; henis first shovwi on an island in Oregon flyingna radio-controlled pterodactyl. Technicalngeniuses that I’ve met progressednto more dull things—executive positionsnat Raytheon, for example—^not to thenedge of lunacy. Of course, those peoplenare less dramatic and more plausible thann!nfmnik^nft JnVilli 1 •nBL’IJn^ f^^^^iinr >igft>n» •”1nf Wn^^^^TMT V^^naiiiklil A i|uarti-r of ii billion pi-ople? Dr.nUrowning iliti not .s;i’. lUil vi- prcMiniithatnif inloniicd of his aiialo}> IIR- milnMl ins < )f imiclii v i mi-s wc mkl j:i//.i-riisi- innllK-irSibi-rian j>r;iL’s. I •n