People live too much in Hollywood land; so when nuclear war threatens, all they can think is that “everyone will go mad” and “everyone will go crazy”—they say the same about a prospective revelation as regards alien life. This is because they’ve watched too many melodramas where the bomb drops or the aliens arrive and everyone runs into the streets, crashes their cars into other people, telephones their loved ones and says, still melodramatically, “Remember, I always loved you, honey—always…” *KABLOOM*. In other words, everyone will “go mental” and completely lose control—riot, rape, mayhem. This is partly because Hollywood is a licence to live out fantasies—permissive fantasies about “one last raid on the mall” before the bomb hits (or afterwards).
Humans are not like that. If you said to someone in 2018, “Next year there will be a global pandemic as serious as Spanish flu,” they would have imagined the Hollywood scenario (“Baby, I always loved you, baby” *cough* *cough*)…In some ways, it was like that—there was panic buying; and yet the actuality is always so much more mundane than, well, a drama. Often in many ways it is not as bad as you would think—then again, in unexpected ways it is so much worse (the long drag of restrictions makes for bad cinema—yet, as with the boredom inherent in war, it is the grey reality).
So Hollywood is not entirely wrong—on 9/11 people in the planes, once they figured out what was up, did ring their relatives to say, “Honey…etc” (although such demonstrativeness is very American—why not die in dignified silence?). In the same way, a nuclear war with Russia would be less terrible and more terrible than many would expect—for example, Hollywood makes these things either/or (almost everyone dies in the zombie plague) but it could be just New York, Kiev, Moscow, and London get nuked and then the hotline rings and everything is sorted out—then there’ll be the paperwork…