Josh Hawley Calls on Hollywood to Tell Radiation Victim Stories Amid ‘Oppenheimer’ Victory Lap

Sen. Josh Hawley wants Hollywood to include the victims of nuclear testing in its victory lap for Christopher Nolan’s “Oppenheimer.”

The blockbuster hit, nominated for 13 Oscars, should be used to call attention to the downsides of the Atomic Age, the Republican senator from Missouri argued in a letter sent to the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences Thursday.

“Public interest in J. Robert Oppenheimer’s life story has never been greater, and the ongoing significance of his legacy will undoubtedly be a major focus at the 96th Academy Awards,” wrote Hawley, referring to the ceremony planned for March 10.

“I write to urge you to include programming that recognizes the victims of America’s nuclear testing,” he continued. “The Oppenheimer film tells a compelling story of these test programs. But it does not tell the story of the Americans left behind — still reckoning with the health and financial
consequences of America’s nuclear research, after all these years. Shouldn’t the victims who are still paying the price have a voice, too?”

The letter is part of a long-running effort by Hawley to gain the spotlight for the victims of radiation exposure, Politico reported, including those harmed by a nuclear waste site near St. Louis. His goal is to reauthorize a law that grants them government compensation and is set to expire in June.

“Across the nation, thousands of Americans currently suffer from cancer and other debilitating medical conditions, brought on by long-term radiation exposure,” the letter said. “In places like my home state of Missouri, the radioactive waste of the Manhattan Project was never fully cleaned up. In many Western states, Americans living downwind from nuclear tests were never told the truth of their exposure and its consequences.”

“In both cases, innocent people have suffered for decades,” he continued. “These victims deserve justice through fair compensation from their government — and you can help by telling their stories.”

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