The Nuclear Propaganda Machine gets ‘Busted’

In the same year as the classic Simpsons episode, New Kids on the Blecch, James Bourne, Matt Willis, and Charlie ‘Simpson’ hit the cover of Smash Hits. Seemingly out of nowhere, prior to even releasing a single, the band were branded “Bigger than Rik Waller”.

Suspicious?

With the threat of the cold war far behind, the large pro-nuclear weapon segment of the government and population needed a new angle to keep our minds focused on our need for WMDs

Written by Thomas Fletcher, James Bourne, Bary Gray, Matthew Sergeant*, and Charles “Simpson”, the catchy tune Thunderbirds are Go, will be the main focus of this essay.

Though I attempted research on the song, “songmeanings.com” was limited in its political discussion.


So the opinions presented below are purely speculative.

Analysis

“Five-four-three-two-one, Thunderbirds are go”

A classic rocketry countdown paints the “Thunderbirds” as friendly missiles.

“Spring break’s come around and there’s more heroes to be found”

“Yvan eht nioj”, classic subliminal messaging. “heroes” here of course referring to enlisted soldiers, “spring break” showing the young demographic targeted.

“There’s something major going down on Tracy island, island”

Tracy Island represents one of the many secret nuclear stations, the source of the missiles. The line itself creating anxiety over the mysterious “something major”.

“Rockets underground keeping our planet safe and sound
If someone evil’s coming round they should be frightened, frightened”

Barely needs explanation, this is subliminally pressing the idea that nuclear weapons are still required in the new millennium, an idea many activists were clear to give up.  However the boys still employ the Cold War fear tactic in “someone evil”, a fake villain for a fake nuclear fear.

“‘Cause now the boys are back in town
No strings to hold them down, down”

Though released in 2004, the year in which Bush was reelected, I believe this line refers to the Republican party as a whole, “The boys” were back, with unrestricted access to nuclear Armageddon. Lets remember a decade ago when the track was released WMDs were the talk of the world, the we needed public opinion to invade Iraq, and the fear of nuclear destruction is what turned the tables.

“Don’t be mad please, stop the hating,
Just be glad that they’ll be waiting,”

There was however, one restriction, the public opinion of nuclear use was still varied. The creation of the “Trident” system in the UK had created an outcry that Busted seeks to avoid. Instead asking us to “stop the hating” and be glad with mutually assured destruction.

“Friends we have are ever changing though,”

A common argument against the UK’s nuclear weapons was that we could rely on NATO and our allies for protection against a strike, an argument this line seeks to stop.

“There’s no need to battle, no, when the thunderbirds are go

An appeal to the pacifist in all of us, the idea that nuclear power wards off conventional warfare, who needs soldiers when you have nukes?

“Kids are learning fast they know the T-birds kick some ass, “

Indoctrination of the youth, glorification of the military in the same vein as Action Man.

“Be sure that there’s no coming last cause you’re on their side, their side”

Diversion of the population, vilification of anyone anti-nuclear. Plus, you wouldn’t want to get bombed, would you?

“It always looks so cool when spaceships come out of the pool,
You know that you’d just be a fool to be a bad guy, bad guy”

Similar point as before, making war look “cool” and a threat towards anybody campaigning for nuclear disarmament.

“‘Cause now the boys are back in town,
No strings to hold them down, down

Don’t be mad please, stop the hating,
Just be glad that they’ll be waiting,
Friends we have are ever changing though,
There’s no need to battle, no, when the thunderbirds are go

Thunderbirds are go

Don’t be mad please, stop the hating,
Just be glad that they’ll be waiting,
Friends we have are ever changing you,
Now the lead’s about to blow, when the thunderbirds are go”

The lyrics are repeated, to be a conventional pop song and reiterate the subliminal message. However the last line here is different, the culmination of the song adds even greater anxiety,  directly creating links to warfare with its explosive language “blow”.

“Thunderbirds are, thunderbirds are go
Thunderbirds are, thunderbirds are go
Thunderbirds are, Thunderbirds are,
Thunderbirds are, thunderbirds are go”

*A note on Matthew Sargent, I can’t find him at all on Google, though he’s credited for the song, I can only guess that his surname is an invented nod to Lieutenant L.T. Smash.

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The Nuclear Propaganda Machine gets ‘Busted’

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