To What Extent Did Film Propaganda During The Second Red Scare Influence Anti Communist Hysteria?

2075 words - 9 pages

Section A: Plan of Investigation
The focus of this investigation is the ability of leaders to appeal to human emotion through propaganda. Propaganda became especially prevalent in the United States of America during the Second Red Scare between 1947 and 1954. Propaganda assisted in the infiltration of anti-communist ideals. This examination specifically focuses on the extent to which film propaganda during this time period influenced anti-communist hysteria. The movies produced during the Cold War glorified American democracy and an evaluation is completed discussing the impact of this glorification on society. The analysis emphasizes how these beliefs infiltrated all genres of moviemaking, according to researchers of film propaganda and American politics. Several secondary sources are used to look at film propaganda produced during the era of McCarthyism and the anti-communist hysteria existing exclusively in this time period.
Section B: Summary of Evidence
As the United States transitioned out of World War II in 1945 and into a period of tension with the Soviet Union instigated by fear of the spread of Communism, the country’s distress moved to a new enemy. This hysteria became known as the Second Red Scare, lasting from 1947 to 1954 and initiated by Senator Joseph McCarthy. The House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC) was utilized by McCarthy to accuse the media, government, education institutions and political enemies of communist antics (Gordon). In 1947, he claimed to have lists of citizens that should be persecuted for supporting the Communist party. One of the groups attacked by McCarthyites included the actors, writers and directors of Hollywood. The first Hollywood blacklist was released November twenty-fifth, 1947. Following war, films with communist indications about Russia were investigated by the HUAC, coming to the forefront of political fury for “befriending” the new enemy (Combs 63). “Naming names” became common in the cinema scene. The fear of films being corrupted by Reds led accusers to find communist infiltration in unlikely places, such as “a suspicious number of happy Soviet children” in the film Song of Russia (Hoberman 84). This onset of Red hysteria presented the movie industry with an opportunity to counter accusations with anti-communist propaganda.
The ability for information to spread quickly across the nation became possible with the introduction of the cinema. James and Sara Combs argue that the increase in both technology and the influence of mass communication was the most significant process of the 1900s because the population could see information beyond their immediate surroundings (3). With this development, influencing a country with certain ideas became simpler through film propaganda. This term stems from the Latin propagare and marks the potential to produce and communicate visionary messages throughout human cultures (Combs 6). Throughout history, it has been applied to commercial, political...

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