Cold War, Cool Medium Television, Mccarthyism, and American Culture

ISBN-10: 023112953X

ISBN-13: 9780231129534

Edition: 2003

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Conventional wisdom holds that television was a co-conspirator in the repressions of Cold War America, that it was a facilitator to the blacklist and handmaiden to McCarthyism. But Thomas Doherty argues that, through the influence of television, America actually became a more open and tolerant place. Although many books have been written about this period, Cold War, Cool Medium is the only one to examine it through the lens of television programming. To the unjaded viewership of Cold War America, the television set was not a harbinger of intellectual degradation and moral decay, but a thrilling new household appliance capable of bringing the wonders of the world directly into the home. The "cool medium" permeated the lives of every American, quickly becoming one of the most powerful cultural forces of the twentieth century. While television has frequently been blamed for spurring the rise of Senator Joseph McCarthy, it was also the national stage upon which America witnessed -- and ultimately welcomed -- his downfall. In this provocative and nuanced cultural history, Doherty chronicles some of the most fascinating and ideologically charged episodes in television history: the warm-hearted Jewish sitcom The Goldbergs; the subversive threat from I Love Lucy; the sermons of Fulton J. Sheen on Life Is Worth Living; the anticommunist series I Led 3 Lives; the legendary jousts between Edward R. Murrow and Joseph McCarthy on See It Now; and the hypnotic, 188-hour political spectacle that was the Army-McCarthy hearings. By rerunning the programs, freezing the frames, and reading between the lines, Cold War, Cool Medium paints a picture of Cold War America that belies many black-and-white clichs. Doherty not only details how the blacklist operated within the television industry but also how the shows themselves struggled to defy it, arguing that television was preprogrammed to reinforce the very freedoms that McCarthyism attempted to curtail.
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Book details

List price: $30.00
Copyright year: 2003
Publisher: Columbia University Press
Publication date: 3/10/2005
Binding: Paperback
Pages: 320
Size: 5.50" wide x 8.50" long x 0.50" tall
Weight: 0.880
Language: English

Thomas Doherty is professor of American studies at Brandeis University. He serves on the editorial board of Cineasteand is the author of Cold War, Cool Medium: Television, McCarthyism, and American Culture; Pre-Code Hollywood: Sex, Immorality, and Insurrection in American Cinema, 1930-1934; Projections of War: Hollywood, American Culture, and World War II; and Teenagers and Teenpics: The Juvenilization of American Movies in the 1950s.

Preface and Acknowledgments
Video Rising
A Television Genealogy
Red and Other Menaces
McCarthy: Man, Ism, and Television
The Gestalt of the Blacklist
The Blacklist Backstory
Pressure Groups and Pressure Points
Institutional Practices
Controversial Personalities
The Goldbergs: The Case of Philip Loeb
I Love Lucy: The Redhead and the Blacklist
Hypersensitivity: The Codes of Television Censorship
Faye Emerson's Breasts, Among Other Controversies
Amos 'n' Andy: Blacks in Your Living Room
Forums of the Air
Egghead Sundays
Direct Address
The Ike-onoscope
Roman Circuses and Spanish Inquisitions
"Kefauver Fever": The Kefauver Crime Committee Hearings of 1951
Wringing the Neck of Reed Harris: The McCarthy Committee's Voice of America Hearings (1953)
Country and God
I Led 3 Lives: "Watch Yourself, Philbrick!"
Religious Broadcasting
Life Is Worth Living: Starring Bishop Fulton J. Sheen
Edward R. Murrow Slays the Dragon of Joseph McCarthy
TV's Number One Glamour Boy
Murrow Versus McCarthy
The "Good Tuesday" Homily
To Be Person-to-Personed
"A Humble, Poverty Stricken Negress": Annie Lee Moss Before the McCarthy Committee
McCarthy Gets Equal Time
The Army-McCarthy Hearings (April 22-June 17, 1954)
Backstory and Dramatis Personae
Gavel-to-Gavel Coverage
Climax: "Have You Left No Sense of Decency?"
Denouement: Reviews and Postmortems
Pixies: Homosexuality, Anticommunism, and Television
Red Fades to Pink
Airing the Cohn-Schine Affair
The end of the Blacklist
The Defenders: The Blacklist on Trial
Point of Order!: The Army-McCarthy Hearings, the Movie
Exhuming McCarthyism: The Paranoid Style in American Television
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