By Thomas Doherty
Traditional knowledge holds that tv was once a co-conspirator within the repressions of chilly warfare the United States, that it used to be a facilitator to the blacklist and handmaiden to McCarthyism. yet Thomas Doherty argues that, throughout the impact of tv, the USA truly grew to become a extra open and tolerant position. even though many books were written approximately this era, chilly battle, Cool Medium is the single one to check it throughout the lens of tv programming. To the unjaded viewership of chilly battle the US, the tv set was once now not a harbinger of highbrow degradation and ethical decay, yet an exciting new loved ones equipment in a position to bringing the wonders of the realm at once into the house. The "cool medium" permeated the lives of each American, quick turning into essentially the most strong cultural forces of the 20 th century. whereas tv has often been blamed for spurring the increase of Senator Joseph McCarthy, it used to be additionally the nationwide degree upon which the USA witnessed -- and eventually welcomed -- his downfall. during this provocative and nuanced cultural historical past, Doherty chronicles probably the most attention-grabbing and ideologically charged episodes in tv heritage: the warm-hearted Jewish sitcom The Goldbergs; the subversive danger from i like Lucy; the sermons of Fulton J. Sheen on lifestyles Is worthy residing; the anticommunist sequence I Led three Lives; the mythical jousts among Edward R. Murrow and Joseph McCarthy on See It Now; and the hypnotic, 188-hour political spectacle that was once the Army-McCarthy hearings. by means of rerunning the courses, freezing the frames, and analyzing among the traces, chilly warfare, Cool Medium paints an image of chilly battle the USA that belies many black-and-white clichés. Doherty not just information how the blacklist operated in the tv but in addition how the exhibits themselves struggled to defy it, arguing that tv used to be preprogrammed to augment the very freedoms that McCarthyism tried to curtail.
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Additional info for Cold War, Cool Medium: Television, McCarthyism, and American Culture (Film and Culture)
TWO the gestalt of the blacklist “Television’s top detective ﬂatfoot show should do some detecting in its own household,” advised the Hollywood Reporter. ” In 1953, when the warning was issued, the elliptical references were clear as crystal to the tradewise readership of the motion picture daily. Translation: Jack Webb, producerstar of NBC’s hit police drama Dragnet, had better ﬁre the actor David Wolfe for working on the communist-backed agitprop Salt of the Earth, an independent production by blacklisted ﬁlmmakers Herbert Biberman, Michael Wilson, and Paul Jarricho.
Johnson, a supermarket owner from Syracuse, New York, who tormented sponsors by linking their wares to communism. If a company bankrolled a television show featuring a suspect actor, Johnson threatened to post signs on his supermarket shelves accusing the manufacturer of corporate fellow traveling, the marketing equivalent of a skull and crossbones. “Perhaps we could work out a questionnaire,” he suggested in a registered letter to the president of a toothpaste manufacturer, “reading, for example, as follows: DO YOU WANT ANY PART OF YOUR PURCHASE PRICE TO BE USED TO HIRE COMMUNIST FRONTERS?
Later, he learned the true nature of the cause he served and, like a good boy fallen in with bad comrades, redeemed himself with a sincere confession and active penance. “At that time nearly all of us felt menaced by two things: the depression and the ever growing power 30 THE GESTALT OF THE BLACKLIST of Hitler,” explained the director Elia Kazan in a statement published in 1952. “The streets were full of unemployed and shaken men. ” To return to the fold in good standing, however, the prodigal politico needed to pay a price for reentry by naming the names of his former comrades.
Cold War, Cool Medium: Television, McCarthyism, and American Culture (Film and Culture) by Thomas Doherty