Andrew O’Hehir’s blog in Salon examines Peter Askins’ new film “Trumbo,” about the life of the most famous of the blacklisted filmmakers in the ’50’s witch hunts, along with the lessons the three generations since can take from the history of censorship and political gagging of Americans.
If the Hollywood blacklist and the entire Red Scare has become a murky, antique-seeming affair in most people’s minds, there are reasons for that. Inevitably, the passage of time and the death of nearly all the participants has turned it into a remote artifact of black-and-white newsreel footage. I think the fact that most of the Hollywood 10 and other blacklistees continued to work, under various ruses, and even formed an expatriate Red community of sorts in Mexico, makes the whole thing seem like a romantic caper. In fact, it was a cruel and deeply symbolic act of tyranny that displays all too clearly one of the running themes of American history: Convince people that their family’s safety is at stake, and they’ll believe all kinds of outrageous lies and turn against their neighbors who happen to look or act different.
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