Mass Hysteria Today And In The Crucible By Arthur Miller

850 words - 3 pages

In Cold War, Cool Medium: Television, McCarthyism and American Culture, Thomas
Doherty profiles the 1950's Red Scare, also known as McCarthyism, and its vast effect on
American culture during that time. Doherty arms his audience with the revealing history behind
the rise and fall of Senator Joe McCarthy, as well as the roots of the anti-communist attitude
during the Cold War era that led to the rise of McCarthyism. He discusses the effects of
McCarthyism on the entertainment world of the 1950's; the blacklisting of actors, actresses, and
producers; many important trials, such as the Army-McCarthy Hearings; and, finally, the end of
McCarthyism. An interesting section of the book titled I Love Lucy: The Redhead and the
Blacklist demonstrates that in a time of fear and political and religious upheaval, such as the anti-
Communist movement or the Salem witch trials, anyone can become a suspect, no matter his
reputation, stature, or public adoration. During the Salem witch-hunts, many knowledgeable,
outspoken persons—usually women—were accused of witchcraft. As in The Crucible, most
were accused on other premises, such as dislike, jealousy, or unsettled disputes. Similarly, during
the period of McCarthyism, anyone in contact or sympathizing with a suspected communist was
blacklisted, lost his job, or was arrested.

Such is the case with the actress Lucille Ball most known for the hit I Love Lucy and
perhaps "the most beloved and profitable performer of the 1950's" (Doherty 49). In September
1953, during the height of the I Love Lucy show, it was announced in the media that Lucille Ball
was a member of the very party threatening the American way of life, the Communist party. Not

only was she supposedly a member, but she was also accused of hosting communist meetings at
her home and allegedly holding a spot on the Central Committee for the California Communist
Party. Two days prior to the release of such shocking information, however, Ball testified at a
House Committee on Un-American Activities (HUAC) session. During her testimony, she
explained that in 1936, seventeen years earlier, at a time when registering as a communist was
not looked upon as treason, Ball, her mother, and her brother all registered with the Communist
party in an effort to appease her grandfather. During all the controversy surrounding Ball's
political views, her network, sponsor, and a public composed of "all the usual suspects,
ordinarily so willing to fold under pressure and toss a controversial personality overboard-lined
up behind the beleaguered star" (Doherty 56). Also, CBS was flooded with mail from supporters
of Ball. One week later, HUAC member Donald Jackson cleared Ball's name,...

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