The GREMLINS 2 Scene Inspired By CNN’s Doomsday Video

CNN has an "end of the world" video ready to play at any time. Joe Dante spoofed it in GREMLINS 2.

The biggest news story of the day, for my money, is Jalopnik sharing CNN's "Doomsday Video" - a clip that Ted Turner created at the beginning of the 24-hour cable channel to air in the eventuality of the end of the world. It's a video that has been legendary in media circles for decades, and the closest we ever came to seeing it before today was the above sequence in Gremlins 2: The New Batch, where John Glover's Daniel Clamp shows Billy the Clamp Cable Network's final sign off video. 

I like Clamp's better - it's more uplifting. 

What's fascinating about the CNN video is that it's a relic of an era when the end of the world seemed present and possible. CNN was founded in 1980, during the Cold War, at a time when I was in school having nuclear attack drills. The threat of an atomic holocaust was very real in 1980, and it seemed likely that once the Russian nukes started flying Turner's nascent cable channel would have a few minutes warning to sign off. 

It's also a relic of the idea of 'signing off,' something that doesn't really happen at all anymore. TV channels still exist, but they program for 24 hours now, which was a novelty in 1980. It used to be that at around 2 or 4am the networks would sign off - play the national anthem and then cut away to a test pattern or static until someone came back into the studio in the morning. This is one of the conceits of Poltergeist that I bet baffles younger viewers. 

Is it better that our current view of the end of the world is some kind of slow destruction of civilization through climate change? It's like growing up and losing the idea that you might die in an exciting, action-packed way and realizing you're probably going to get cancer and wither away when you're 70. 

Enormous thanks to Anthony Scibelli, who reminded me of this scene in Gremlins 2