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Tuesday, May 17, 2011

The Myth of the Hollywood Blacklist...

It didn't start with the Hollywood 10...
...who by the way, were never convicted of Communism, but were sent to prison for contempt of Congress' House Unamerican Activities Committee...
...nor was it expanded by the eeeeeevil government to pursue all of Hollywood,
as depicted in revisionist hagiographies such as Woody Allen's The Front...


Blacklisting was the AIDS of its day.  Just the hint of it could make your phone stop ringing and your industry "friends" fade away.  What is significant about the blacklist was the near absolute lack of any organized movement to stand up for the accused.  It was a self-imposed Kafka sketch for the entertainment industry.  People did not stand up for their associates even when they knew the charges were baseless.  Indeed, it's not unreasonable given the character of the business and the people involved, that many were involved in planting false charges to advance their own careers at the expense of their peers.

And keep in mind this was not for principle, but for money.  The organizations pushing the blacklist had no more legal authority to do so or power to enforce it than any other citizen or group of citizens.  The studios could have called them out.  The networks could have called them out.  The actors as an  organized body could have called them out.

But Hollywood, not HUAC, condemned its own, with or without reason, to ignomy and failure. For ticket sales and commercial spot dollars.

It's past time the industry admitted its complicity in its own ruin.

2 comments:

Snertly said...

So, someone walks up and points a gun at you. If you hand him your wallet before he says "Your money or your life?" then you haven't been robbed, you've made a voluntary donation?

Likewise, Hollywood blacklisting was entirely voluntary, I'm sure.

richard mcenroe said...

All it took was a listing of the name by these private groups. No evidence need be offered.

Yes, it was voluntary. And it was cowardly.

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