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Quo vadis Hollywood?

When communism first appeared to the Western masses, it was instantly appealing. At first blush, it appeared like a brilliant new solution to the injustices of the human condition, a clever scheme for reordering of the world, one that might even eliminate the need for Christianity.

Today, historians estimate that communism has been directly responsible for the deaths of 100 million people since Bolshevism overtook Russia in 1917. Nor has it disappeared, the fall of the Soviet Union notwithstanding. Instead, it's simply been repackaged and rebranded so its stench is harder to detect. But it's there all right, in the guise of secularism and relativism which has produced the culture of death wherein all manner of wrongs are now enshrined as rights. And in political correctness which, make no mistake, is the voice of communism today

At the heart of this ongoing campaign to remove Christ from human history and consciousness has been the film industry which, for nearly a century, has influenced how people think and what they expect from life. But few consider the philosophies and values fed into the cinema, chiefly by its directors, screenwriters and actors.

Fifty years ago, filmgoers were confronted with precisely this question: were their beliefs really being influenced, subverted and reshaped at their local cinema by the communist beliefs of some of Hollywood's most powerful movie-makers?

Thus the film colony found itself at the centre of American postwar politics--a controversial era which has since produced countless memoirs, documentaries and films, most as hugely distorted as George Clooney's new film on the McCarthy era, Good Night and Good Luck, is likely to be. At their core is a myth which goes like this.

In the late 1940s, there was a cadre of card-carrying Communist screenwriters, actors and directors working in Hollywood who professed to know nothing of the malevolence of Stalinist communism and denied any involvement in its subversive methods. Call them "the victims."

In the dock are "the villains." They include the House Committee on Un-American Activities (HUAC), who summoned "victims" to name friends and co-workers who shared Communist sympathies and/or party membership; the film moguls who capitulated to HUAC pressure and blacklisted "honest idealists"; the liberals who turned their backs while the said outrage took place; and the ex-Communist "friendly witnesses" who testified before HUAC about their experiences in the Party, "betraying" Party colleagues such as Edward Dmytryk, Lewis Milestone, Bertolt Brecht, Howard Koch, Ring Lardner Jr, John Howard Lawson and Dalton Trumbo who found themselves out of work and, in some cases, in jail. Disgraceful?

Only if you buy into the guilt-edged version handed down over the past five decades like some dog-eared fable. And it is a fable, one that's been recently corrected by Ronald and Allis Radosh in Red Star Over Hollywood. Their account of the communist influence in the American film industry begins with the aftermath of the Bolshevik Revolution and traces Hollywood's fascination with radicalism from the 1930s when actors visiting the Soviet Union were returning to the U.S. convinced they had seen the future, that it worked and that it should be implemented throughout the West.

It was a romantic idea--wildly attractive to American Liberals, some of whom went further and joined the Communist Party USA. But the romance didn't last. As the Iron Curtain came down in 1946, the estrangement between American liberals and communists began. So did the HUAC hearings, in which these same writers, directors and actors were called to testify about who among them were Communist Party members or sympathizers. The result was the notorious blacklist. But was this a true witch hunt?

That depends on how seriously you take the power to influence millions of minds. Certainly, Lenin believed in the importance of using film for progaganda. So did Willi Munzenberg, the brains behind the Comintern, created in 1919 to foment worldwide revolution. "We must develop the tremendous cultural possibilities of the motion picture in the revolutionary sense," Munzenberg explained in The Daily Worker in the 1930s. And they did.

As masters of propaganda, they have been hugely successful--even when found out, as they were by HUAC. Their reponse? Confronted by charges of subversion, they typically cast themselves as saints victimised by the "evil" HUAC, thereby allowing the ongoing inculcation of Communist ideology into popular Western culture unopposed.

You gotta admit, it's a clever strategy. By casting the HUAC hearings as a witchhunt and themselves as innocent victims, the ideology itself has been given a pass as the designated victim of "cruel reactionaries." And so it goes. Fifty years on, Hollywood is still portraying this critical period as an object lesson in political persecution.

"Hollywood communists, if they are depicted at all, are shown merely as benign and well-meaning idealists who favour racial equality, peace and basic decency for all Americans," the Radoshes conclude. "None of the films show anything about what the communists believed or how they operated."

And they've gotten away with it, just as the mercilessly-hounded Catholic Senator Joe McCarthy warned, and as five decades of cinematic history attest. From the mawkish melodramas of the 1950s underclass to the cult of the outlaw of the 1970s and the sex-and-violence-drenched blockbusters of the 1980s and 1990s where the only intelligent characters belong to minority groups. Talk about manipulative!

Through it all, a lot of hokum got swallowed. And, as we were being entertained to death, the world as we knew it was turned upside down. Call me simplistic but I say the commies won, though they've gone mainstream where they remain, albeit in denial--in the environmental movement, in the animal rights movement, in the feminist movement, in peace movements and in social justice groups, possibly in a parish near you.

In the years since HUAC worried about the subversive effects of communist ideology on their nation, that same supposedly harmless ideology has infected every timber of Western civilisation and rotted it from within, leaving Christendom teetering perilously on the edge of collapse.

The attack has been multi-pronged and multi-masked, but there is only one puppetmaster--the same one who toppled the tsar, mass-murdered his way around the globe, whose very existence many deny and whose goal is the total destruction of mankind.

Forty-five years after Ben Hur broke box office records, The Passion of the Christ was ignored by the Hollywood establishment which had done its evil best to ensure the film failed. It didn't.

So far Hollywood has missed the point of Mel Gibson's extraordinary success. That may be because the once legendary creativity of the film industry is breathing its last, a victim of the death-dealing ideology that first infected it so long ago.

As for that grating you heard this summer, that was the sound of Hollywood scraping the bottom of the barrel. And, with the worst ticket sales in fifteen years, they've got the receipts to show for it.

Paula Adamick is a journalist who writes from London, England, where she publishes the monthly Canada Post.
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Title Annotation:COLUMNIST; Hollywood's responsibility for social decay
Author:Adamick, Paula
Publication:Catholic Insight
Article Type:Column
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Oct 1, 2005
Previous Article:Kingdom under siege.
Next Article:Exorcise Catholic dissenters.

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