I Pledge Allegiance to Anti-Communism

In the midst of the Cold War, many programs were enacted to ensure American patriotism. The House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC) was established to conduct hearingsĀ  about the presence of communism in Hollywood motion pictures. In these hearings, actors, directors, and screenwriters were summoned for questioning by the committee. Of the witnesses, 10, known as the Hollywood Ten, declined to answer questions concerning their political allegiances or disclose names of those who were communist. The Hollywood Ten believed their 1st Amendment rights were infringed. As a result, the committee charged them with contempt of Congress and were sentenced to 6 months to a year in prison. Besides the Hollywood Ten, more than 200 other people were also charged with communist sympathies or the refusal to name names.

Had the HUAC never been formed during the Cold War, history might have run a different course. The aim of the HUAC was to contain and control the spread of communism beliefs and values in the movie industry. In reality, the HUAC did not find substantial evidence of individuals who hold communist sympathies. However, if the HUAC was not there to screen the individuals, those who were communist could have used the opporutnity to promote communist ideas. If those individual succeed, communism could have seeped into the minds of ordinary Americans.


Hollywood Adopts the Hays Code

Morality became a divisive issue during the 1920s in the United States. One focal point of the cultural debate was Hollywood and its movies. Known for promiscuity, gambling and alcohol, Hollywood developed an image as a hotbed of immoral behavior. In the early 1920s the town was rocked by a series of scandals which brought widespread condemnation from civic, religious and political organizations. In 1921, one of America’s most popular movie stars, comic Roscoe “Fatty” Arbuckle, was accused of raping a young actress, Virginia Rappe. After she died of internal injuries, he was indicted for manslaughter. Arbuckle was eventually acquitted, but the public outcry about Hollywood’s lack of morals became deafening.

In 1922, after some risque films and a series of off-screen scandals involving Hollywood stars, the studios enlisted beacon of rectitude and Presbyterian elder Will H. Hays to rehabilitate Hollywood’s image.