14

Towards the end of Dr Strangelove, we see the two H-bombs aboard the plane, with these messages written:

enter image description here

What do these messages mean?

13

They're both humorous greetings, in this context anyway.

A Dear John letter is a term which originated from girlfriends of soldiers breaking up with them via letter starting with 'Dear John', presumably as it's just a common name. Unlike a letter though, a Nuclear Dear John is absolutely clear in just how much the sender considers this relationship over.

'Hi There!' on the other hand, is a very cheerful and informal greeting, and the complete opposite sort of message you'd think would be delivered immediately before hundreds of thousands of deaths.

Pilots and military personnel really did write messages on some of their bombs, for example this image of the 357th Fighter Group:

357th Fighter Group with a greeting on their bomb

2

There are a few interpretations floating around, I like the metaphor of using the Cold War as a backdrop of sexual tension as has been described in various theses found around the web.

In the original book, the "Hi there" bomb is named Lolita, which is a definite reference to an illicit, underage affair. The change to "Hi there" can be take either way, as the opening to a monologue leading to dalliance, and it was also used as a greeting for homosexual activity for a time.

The Dear John also is a reference to lovers, as that was the main euphemism for a letter written (usually to a soldier) letting them know that they were breaking up with them, that they've found someone new.

  • 1
    Interesting answer. Can you somehow back up those theories just a little, though? – Napoleon Wilson Jul 16 '15 at 20:21

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