This assignment required me to find a bunch of newspaper headlines and make a story with them. I decided to use only the UMW newspapers, and, keeping with the theme, only headlines from the 80s! Here is the story I came up with! I was actually able to do this with only one modification to the headlines, which was that the last line, as written in The Bullet is “You’ve come a long way, Mary”. I modified it to read simply “You’ve come a long way.” because the name implies a gender influence that kinda collides in an nonconstructive manner with the rest of the story.
Times are changing
— Antinuclear organization needs your support!
Presidents help keep pace with changing time
—Antinuclear organization needs your support!
Key decisions made at meeting. Construction to increase
—Why do we need any more?
. Increased popularity due to new image
The best defense is a good offense
—Educating for peace
Strategic arms, not just talk
—These preppies are all on heroin!
Candidates call for communication
—Good, not great
Funding energy a ‘must’
—Times are changing
The price is right
—Losing focus on a cause
Good, not great
—Times are changing
You’ve come a long way, Mary
I formatted this as a (fictional) conversation between two people, one a nameless member of the government, the other a nameless antinuclear weaponry lobbyist figure. The majority of the story is the lobbyist figure and the government figure debating whether or not to continue developing nuclear weaponry. The latter half of the story is the lobbyist figure sort of forgetting their battle against nuclear weaponry and accepting nuclear technology as used for energy. Additionally, this is not meant to be a statement against nuclear power as an energy source, I am not educated enough on that subject to make a stance, I just wanted to capture the vague sense of foreboding that people in the 80’s and during the Cold War felt as a result of the nuclear arms race. (how’d i do?)
In order to complete this assignment, I first spent a couple minutes fiddling around on Simpson library online card catalog thing in order to find old scans of the UMW newspaper (then called “The Bullet”). Then, I set the year to a few random years between 1980 and 1989 and just started skimming newspapers for fun or useful sounding article titles. Whenever I found one that piqued my interest, I added it to a master list of article titles. One that didn’t make the cut, but I still quite liked is “The chipmunks are coming! The chipmunks are coming!” Once I had a good number of headlines, I looked through them to see if there were any common themes popping out or anything that looked like the beginnings of a plot. I used what I had to create my story/poem-with-a-plot/complete and utter masterpiece, and then skimmed a few more newspapers to look for the finishing touches.
The reason I chose to go with nuclear arms and energy is mostly due to the abundance of articles and headlines about the subject within the 80’s, which is a very interesting part of the psyche of the time and is likely reflected in the pop culture. The vague general sense of foreboding certainly is; movies like Night of the Comet and books like The Handmaid’s Tale portraying horrific dystopian futures for the planet. This is actually the second draft of my headline poem; my first draft was sort of a flop; it didn’t really have any meaning and what little meaning I was able to construct was in a ballpark I didn’t really want to be spending time in (vague, but essentially it was quite dark and I wasn’t vibing; there’s a time and place for dark media and I decided now was not it). I am really pleased with how this story turned out; I think it captures the anxiety and the “the world is out to get me” fear that stemmed from the Cold War in the 80’s, and it has a little bit of a plot and I even got to use some poetic devices.
stay groovy -liz