A post I think you ought to read

I was going to try to build up my own post around Big Lizard’s The Best Years of their Lives : Hollywood and Franklin’s War, but I can’t.  It’s a complete package, and I don’t have anything to add that wouldn’t be idle twittering.  It’s a really stellar post in which BL takes on the difference between Hollywood’s approach to WWII and the current War.  The only issue where I’d part ways with BL — so I’m giving you one little twitter — is that I think he focuses too much on the Hollywood Left as the movers and shakers of pro-War movies and doesn’t give enough credit to the studio bosses who, though they may have been thuggish businessmen, were also genuine patriots who truly believed in America.  Twittering now done.  Read the post and see what you think.

5 Responses

  1. I think I agree about giving too much credit to the Hollywood left.

    I also find it odd that no mention is made of the enlistment and service of a good number of actors, musicians, and film makers. The commitments by these people to country surely must have had some influence.

    Then there was the impact of the daily news from papers, such as the New York Times, that did all they could to hide the truth of the evils of Communism.

  2. Glad to see BL gets FDR exactly right: nothing the man did at any time slowed down the Depression for as much as a second, and has saddled us all forever with endless expenses, problems, and government intrusion into everything.

    I think what happened was WWII was presented as an actual war. It got leaped on by the government as being (at last!) a means of ending the economic problems – war is great for industrial economies – and even Hollywood was not immune to the idea of a functional economy.

    Plus, there was never any realistic doubt we’d win. It was presented and propagandized as a very close-run thing, but Hitler couldn’t get an army across the English Channel; what the hell was he going to do to us? Distance counted in those days. Japan handed us a year of defeats in the Pacific, thanks largely, as BL points out, to startling ineptitude at the top – but once we got the machine cranked up the party was over – which Yamamoto knew from Day 1.

    Our current war, which is far more serious than WWII ever was, with far more serious implications, is being fought by the professionals. It doesn’t involve the rest of us. The probability was there was little-to-no need for the rationing, etc., etc. that went on in this country in WWII – but it made everybody a stakeholder; it got everybody involved.

    We don’t do that any more. We didn’t do it in Korea, we didn’t do it in Vietnam, and we aren’t doing it now. The only way people today know we’re at war at all is because they hear it in the news; there’s plenty of gasoline, nylon, sugar, etc. The people are asked to sacrifice nothing, so they simply aren’t involved. Our last three wars have been sold very differently than WWII was.

    Partr of the reason for that was because we were mired in an economic disaster for twelve years before the war started for us in the US. When it became apparent that we were going to be in it, and the military opened up, military ranks were swelled by a million guys – BEFORE Pearl Harbor. Being in the military meant food, clothes, and shelter, which beat the hell out of what had been going on for a lot of people.

    The timing was perfect. Nothing FDR had been doing had worked, the economy had remained a mess, and along came Hitler and Tojo.

    What’s not to get behind?

  3. OK, Hollywood was riddled with Commies during WWII, which is why they allowed and encouraged pro-American and pro-USSR war films. Does that mean that McCarthy was right?
    Al

  4. Yeah, as a matter of history of course McCarthy was right. Every time he and the HUAC went for looking for communists – Hollywood, State Department, etc. – they found them: there’s no question they were there.

    The question ought not to be about McCarthy and the correctness of what he was doing, and as we gain distance and perspective on the times, he is increasingly being de-demonized by historians. The question really ought to be: outside of government (i.e.: the State Department) did it matter? Did it really mean anything that Dalton Trumbo was a communist? Was it dangerous to anyone for Dalton Trumbo – or anyone else in Hollywood – to be communist?

    The answer is, I suspect, probably not. There was probably a lot more hysteria about it than it truly merited.

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