Please use this identifier to cite or link to this item: http://scholarbank.nus.edu.sg/handle/10635/144883
Title: HOLLYWOOD TEN AND THE HOUSE OF UN-AMERICAN ACTIVITIES COMMITTEE (HUAC)
Authors: HO QI AN
Issue Date: 23-Apr-2018
Citation: HO QI AN (2018-04-23). HOLLYWOOD TEN AND THE HOUSE OF UN-AMERICAN ACTIVITIES COMMITTEE (HUAC). ScholarBank@NUS Repository.
Abstract: In October 1947, ten Hollywood producers, screenwriters, and actors stood trial for their perceived involvement in communist subversion in the motion picture industry. The trials were conducted by the House of Un-American Activities (HUAC), an investigative committee authorized to investigate the extent, nature, and diffusion of un-American activities and propaganda in the United States (U.S.) during the Cold War. The ten refused to cooperate during the hearings and sought to expose the unconstitutional nature and partisan motives of the HUAC. After two weeks of hearings, the ten were cited for contempt of Congress and were eventually sentenced to jail in May 1948. They were first dubbed as the “Unfriendly Ten” for the manner in which they tried to defy the HUAC, and then in a more permanent legacy, as the “Hollywood Ten”. Although the Hollywood Ten were never found guilty of participating in communist subversive activities, the trials established the HUAC as America’s main domestic warrior against communism and seemingly validated the need for such a committee to safeguard America from the “menace” of communism. Consequently, scholarly works have portrayed the HUAC as an emblem of America’s domestic fight against communism; and a committee whose motivations were Cold War oriented. However, HUAC’s history since its establishment in 1938 and the profile of its key members suggests an overriding conservative agenda of the committee. The political and socioeconomic climate of America in the immediate years after World War II (WWII) and the liberal, progressive politics animating Hollywood further support the plausibility of HUAC’s partisanship. Taking all these factors into consideration, this paper argues that the HUAC and the Hollywood Ten trials had comparatively little to do with Cold War concerns. Instead, the conservatives had employed the committee as an apparatus to maintain their economic positions and social convictions in America. They did so in response to President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s (FDR) New Deal policies, which undercut their favoured systems and structures, and in place advanced those the liberals supported. The outcome of the trials gave the HUAC additional powers that allowed them to expand investigations and conduct even more anticommunist hearings, which the conservatives used effectively to curtail the influence of the liberals. The trials are therefore, key in demonstrating that the actions of the HUAC from 1945 to 1950 were fundamentally motivated by domestic economic and social anxieties rather than Cold War concerns.
URI: http://scholarbank.nus.edu.sg/handle/10635/144883
Appears in Collections:Bachelor's Theses

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