Now that droves of sexist pigs in showbiz are losing their jobs, maybe the male chauvinism that pervades La-La Land will finally be dealt a fatal blow.
After all, that’s how the reds and pinkos were purged back in the heyday of Joe McCarthy.
“The economic sanctions that made McCarthyism such an effective measure of political repression were based just about 100 percent on the process of having somebody be identified as a political dissenter by a government institution and then fired by a private employer,” the renowned Red Scare scholar Ellen Schrecker has written.
Of course, when it comes to getting pinkslipped, there’s a big diff between sex degraders and political dissenters.
For one, rich sleaze bags like Harvey Weinstein can afford to be unemployed, while most of those canned by the McCarthyites suffered serious financial hardship, if not destitution. Also, the pigs aren’t being outed by the feds, but rather by those they’ve victimized.
But the outing-then-firing formula of the pig-purge is straight from the McCarthy playbook.
The real news media has been happy to oblige, publishing running lists of named-names and their accusers. ABC, CBS, NBC, CNN, Associated Press, New York Times, USA Today, Newsweek and others are all keeping tabs.
Then there’s the “Shitty Media Men” list, an anonymous anthology of anonymous accusations, published by BuzzFeed in an apparent attempt to present itself as a case study of fake journalism.
The award for best blacklist of the McCarthy era goes to Red Channels, a 213-page book published in 1950 by a trio of former G-Men enterprising as the “American Business Consultants,” publishers also of the red-baiting Counterattack newsletter.
Red Channels patriotically compiled the alleged Communist affiliations of 151 actors, writers, musicians and other radio and television entertainers.
Among those blacklisted by the book were Burgess Meredith (aka The Penguin), Maestro Leonard Bernstein, TV newsman Howard K. Smith, Orson Welles, Burl Ives, and Irene “The Singing Lady” Wicker, to randomly name a few.
Unlike BuzzFeed and the Shitty Media Men list, Red Channels did cite its sources. For example, Will Geer (Grandpa on “The Waltons”) was listed as a Commie because he was identified as such by the professional name-namer Walter S. Steele. Other damning evidence against Grandpa Walton was his involvement in a peace conference and his attendance at a May Day parade.
Red Channels worked like a charm. “By 1951, the television networks and their sponsors no longer hired anyone whose name was in the book, and the prohibition soon spread to anyone who seemed controversial,” Professor Schrecker points out.
Almost everyone slimed in its pages was subsequently summoned to appear before the House Committee on UnAmerican Affairs. And those who refused to snitch were listed the following day in the New York Times and other real news outlets, so employers would know who to fire.
The witch hunt soon spread beyond politicians and entertainers, and into the workplaces of ordinary Americans. “Steelworkers, teachers, sailors, lawyers, social workers, electricians, journalists, and assembly line workers were all subject to the same kinds of political dismissals and prolonged unemployment as show business people,” Schrecker notes. “And the experience was just as devastating.”
It remains to be seen if the current pig-purge will spread to the legions of perv prowlers who infest corporate America.
“The truth is, if you are a woman in most professions, there are a bunch of extra rungs on your ladder to success,” writes the standup comic Laurie Kilmartin, based on her years of career experience with guys like Louis C.K. (Comedian Lizz Winstead tweeted out the piece with the hashtag,
But Kilmartin’s New York Times op-ed ends with a ray of hope. “It is so strange to see sexual harassment being taken seriously, at long last,” she writes. “It has made me examine my own life, 30 years of swimming under, over and around sharks. What could I have accomplished if I’d been able to put that energy elsewhere?”
Meanwhile, it’s great that journalists, business executives, actors and other real creeps are being outed, but there’s a witch hunt element that’s been set loose with the post-Weinstein revelations that’s a little bit scary.
If history is any guide, anyway, but few people bother to consider that nowadays.