Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Sniggering at The Hollywood Ten

The leftish Grimm's Fairy Tale version of the Hollywood Ten story is no longer relevant in the modern world.  So, if you can't get gut-aching drama or political passion out of this spent myth, you have to go in an entirely new direction with this story.  The makers of Trumbo went with camp.  The titular Trumbo comes across as a villain from the Adam West Batman series.  Call him The Red Scribe.  Be honest, is anything more camp than a grinning jackass who smokes a cigarette in a cigarette holder?

Even more clownish than Trumbo and his silly cigarette holder is a fictionalized version of the Hollywood Ten that made a recent appearance in the Coen Brothers' Hail, Caesar! (2016).  These characters are creatures of pure camp and were easily able to put a grin on my face.

The Hollywood Ten wanted to turn the motion picture industry into their own personal political propaganda machine.  The blacklist was designed to stop that from happening.  Motion pictures exert a great deal of influence on the public.  The idea of allowing Hollywood's self-important writers and directors to exploit the power of motion pictures to their own political ends would have been equivalent to putting a loaded gun into the hands of a five-year-old child. 

Sneaking political propaganda into studio product was, without question, an offense that should have gotten a writer fired.  It's like the employee of a cereal company replacing the free toy inside of cereal boxes with miniature edition of The Communist Manifesto.  At first, the defenders of the Hollywood Ten claimed that the writers did not conceal political propaganda in their scripts.  This was hysteria, they said.  How often did they call the blacklist a "witch hunt"?  But the authors' scripts were so rich in Soviet notions that their denial of propaganda was futile.  Later, the claim was made that the scripts simply reflected the authors' worldview and it would be impossible for their worldview not to naturally seep into their writing.  But these are overpowering views presented in the most contrived and heavy-handed manner.  The examples of propaganda are many.  Allan H. Ryskind wrote in "Hollywood Traitors: Blacklisted Screenwriters – Agents of Stalin, Allies of Hitler," "[Alvah] Bessie, who fought on the Soviet side in the Spanish Civil war, bragged about inserting pro-Soviet propaganda that was 'subversive as all hell' into the 1943 film Action in the North Atlantic."  The latest defense of the Hollywood Ten is to claim that these men were socialists who were bringing a necessary message to the American public.  Certainly, today's Bernie Sanders-loving millennials believe that the Socialist philosophy is a good philosophy to preach.  But, even if we accept this argument, the men were not Socialists.  These men were revolutionary Stalinists who supported overthrowing the American government by force and violence. 

There's no way to get around the fact that these were unpleasant men.  Ann Coulter wrote, "Ukrainians were eating their shoes and watching their children starve to death in Stalin’s orchestrated famine and Jews were being hauled off to the gas chambers by Hitler.  Both regimes championed by Trumbo and the other Hollywood 10.  But Dalton Trumbo was forced to write scripts under another name for about decade.  The horror."

The scripts of the Communist writers were scrutinized by Dorothy B. Jones, the chief film analyst for the Office of War Information.  Jones found that Hollywood's Communist writers injected propaganda speeches into their scripts.  She wrote, "These speeches take the form of condemning the capitalistic system, and wealthy people, or bemoaning the plight of the poor, and suggesting this condition would not exist under communism."

Hollywood still wants to deny the truth about these men.  Trumbo's daughter, Nikola, was a consultant on the film.  Nikola admitted that the first version of the script that she read did not actually state that her father was a Communist.  She said, "The political part was really important to me.  I didn't want — what's the word where you hop over something and pretend it didn't happen?  He was a Communist.  I think it was really important that was stated." 

Communism was about more than paying labor a fair rate of pay or sharing a sandwich with a hungry man.  The "sharing a sandwich" business, as absurdly simplistic as it is, was the definitive description of Communism that was provided in the film.

The fact was that the beliefs of Trumbo and his associates were a major attack on American values.  This was reflected in the grotesque way that the writers portrayed other parts of American life, including marriage and religion.

Marx and Engels accused the bourgeois of seeing a wife as "nothing but an instrument of production."  A marriage was nothing more than a man subordinating a woman for free labor.  Clean the house.  Make the dinner.  Pop out the next baby.  Marx called this "domestic slavery."  It was as if the man did no work himself.   Marx cast husbands as owners and wives as workers, the basic idea being that the owner husbands made a surplus of wealth exploiting the worker wives.

Engels called for women to abandon their homes and become worker drones in his 1884 essay, "The Origin of the Family, Private Property, and the State."  Engels wrote, "The emancipation of women becomes possible only when women are enabled to take part in production on a large, social scale, and when domestic duties require their attention only to a minor degree."  Engels knew what he was talking about when it came to management screwing labor.  In his own home, Engels had an adulterous affair with his housekeeper and eventually got the woman pregnant.

Erin Pizzey, who founded the world's first shelter for battered wives in 1971, wrote about her experiences with radical feminists.  She recalled that these women carried around copies of Mao's Little Red Book and had posters of Mao in their living rooms.  Mao, who was heavily influenced by The Communist Manifesto, alleged that the patriarchal system oppressed women and women could only find freedom by rejecting "husband authority," leaving their homes, and taking their place on the labor front.  So, in China, women went into the fields and joined in production.  Male and female workers became indistinguishable in their unisex frocks.  Mao was no French dude who advocates "Vive la diff√©rence."  In the 1960's, he initiated a police crackdown in which police officers beat women for wearing lipstick. 

It is more important than anything to know that the Hollywood Ten were enormous hypocrites.  Coulter wrote, "They were using their immense power to. . . blacklist writers who were anti-Soviet, such as Eugene Lyons.  Hollywood reds pioneered the practice of blacklisting, then cried bloody murder when it was applied to them."

The actual Dalton Trumbo

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