Who can I trust? This was a common question asked during the 50's and the era of McCarthyism. McCarthyism was a major key idea and period of time during the 50's. McCarthyism was a heavy blow to American culture. Movies and novels were affected. A lot of propaganda appeared at the time that warned people of the rising threat of Communism and that anyone they knew could be a Communist. This really placed fear into the American people that was unneeded and caused a lot of problems.
McCarthyism is the act of making accusations of treason or subversion without having proper evidence.
McCarthyism was a campaign created by Senator Joseph McCarthy that went against potential Communist in the U.S government and other institutions. Most of the people who were accused of being a Communist were fired from their job or were just blacklisted. Many of these people also did not belong to the Communist party. Many people who were innocent had to go through the hardship of being prosecuted by their own country. People had their relationships torn because they didn't know who they could trust.
A lot of literature and movies were affected by this too. In Hollywood, there was a group of people known as the Hollywood 10. These were directors, screenwriters and actors that were labeled as Communists by McCarthy. There were originally 11, but one of the accused fled the country to avoid being prosecuted. There were certain authors who spoke out against it like Arthur Miller.
Propaganda started to pop up warning of a "Red Menace" that was rising up in power and that was going to take over the world. This propaganda struck fear into the minds of the American people and would cause some to accuse their friends, neighbors and even family members of being Communists.
All of this had a major impact on American social life and while the period was only seen in the 1950's, it would be an influence on what would come between the U.S and the Soviets in the 1960's as well.
Different forms of propaganda popped up at the time mentioning how the communist party was a real threat and would take over the world. This really got into the heads of many American people. Some posters, like the one above, were created to get people to report anyone who they believed might be a Communist. This falls back on the idea that people didn't know who they could trust because anyone they knew like their friends or neighbors could turn them in. A lot of the propaganda referred to Communism as "The Red Menace" This was all meant to strike fear into the American people and to warn them about any possible dangers that could affect the ways that they lived their lives.
Books, Movies & Hollywood 10
During the period of McCarthyism, Movies and Hollywood in general were hit hard. There were many screenwriters, directors and actors that were accused of being Communists. "These first 10 members of the Hollywood film industry were questioned by McCarthy and decided not to cooperate with the investigation, choosing instead to claim their First Amendment right to free speech" (Hoyt pg. 4, Parag. 3) The home of the film industry, Los Angeles, was one of the larger areas in the U.S where the actual Communists would gather. This caused many people in the area to be labeled as a potential Communist.
Authors and certain literature pieces were also affected by McCarthyism. Arthur Miller, a famous writer at the time, wrote a play in 1953 called "The Crucible". "Miller used the Salem Witch Trials as a metaphor for McCarthy's communist "witch hunt," earning the ire of McCarthy ( Hoyt pg. 4, Parag. 4). Some people were not afraid to speak out against McCarthyism and these false claims being made against them. Some however would end up fleeing from the country out of fear of being hunted.
Achter, Paul, "McCarthyism" 14 March 2017. Encyclopedia Britannica. https://www.britannica.com/topic/McCarthyism. 3 September 2017
Alia Hoyt "How McCarthyism Worked" 15 January 2008.
History.com. "Joseph R. McCarthy". 2009. http://www.history.com/topics/cold-war/joseph-mccarthy. 1 September 2017
HowStuffWorks.com. <http://history.howstuffworks.com/historical-figures/mccarthyism.htm> 3 September 2017
Storrs, Landon R. Y. "McCarthyism and the Second Red Scare." Oxford Research Encyclopedia of American History. 2015-07-02. Oxford University Press. Date of access 5 Sep. 2017, <http://americanhistory.oxfordre.com/view/10.1093/acrefore/9780199329175.001.0001/acrefore-9780199329175-e-6>