Letters

Trumbo

Ignore Manohla Dargis’ mean-spirited put-down of Trumbo and see the film. Dargis’ basic point is that the film is not complex enough, which can only mean that it needed a shot of anti-Communism to complicate and “deepen” its portrayal of the Hollywood blacklist. The truth is that the anti-Communists of that period never cared about what was happening in the Soviet Union. They were ignorant bullies, the direct precursors of the people who are manipulating Islamophobia today. The film makes this clear without the usual pieties and without claims to see two sides when there really was only one worth defending. To my memory, and I invite readers to correct me, this is the first clear-sighted, historically grounded exposition of McCarthyism. Yes, I recall The Front but this goes way beyond that. Of course, the Communist Party’s relation to the Soviet Union was horrible — something that still needs to be understood. But what the film captures was all the power that went into the New Deal and World War II, including the alliance against fascism. The people who created the blacklist were interested in reversing this and they have largely succeeded in doing so, with anti-Communism of both the Neanderthal and the sophisticated liberal varieties playing a major role. In a great speech, Bryan Cranston as Trumbo says there were no heroes and villains; this was something we did to ourselves. Here I disagree. The anti-communists who created the blacklist were villains and their legacy is triumphing everywhere today. See the film. Dargis does not know American history and is way out of her depth.

Also for you:

Eli Zaretsky

Previous post

The Politics of Disinviting

Next post

Jeremy Corbyn’s Attempt to Reinvent British Labour