The McCarthey Era and Popular Culture:

In case you needed further evidence that the McCarthy era of popular culture bears little resemblance to the actual McCarthy era, I give you the following cartoonish view of the era, which, perhaps not surprisingly, comes from a recent comic book. Reed Richards of The Fantastic Four is telling Peter Parker the Amazing Spiderman about how failing to cooperate with HUAC ruined his Uncle Ted's career:

Uncle Ted was a writer. He found everyone interesting. He'd talk to strangers, wear the wrong colored socks, ate at strange little restaurants. My uncle Ted was eccentric. He was funny and colorful, and I loved him. But he was also stubborn, and didn't care for rules, and if you pushed him, he'd push back just as hard. Unfortunately, this is when Joe McCarthy and the House un-American activities committee was in full bloom looking for communists among the military, the government, and ... the arts. If you stood out, if you didn't conform, you had a better than even chance of being called before the committee. At my uncle Ted was all those things. So he was subpoenaed to appear before he lack and explain himself. To testify. To tell them he wasn't a communist, and to name the names of those who thought might be communists. [Uncle Ted told the committee to go to hell, was jailed for six months for contempt, and his life was ruined.]

Whatever one thinks about the McCarthy era, and some of my views (at least on the relevant First Amendment issues) can be found in this paper, you didn't get hauled before HUAC because you talked to strangers, wore the wrong colored socks, or ate at strange restaurants. And the idea that random nonconformists had a "better than even chance" of being called before HUAC is just laughable.

I understand this is "just a comic book," but serious Hollywood movies such Guilty By Supsicion and The Front also go astray in conveying the history of the era. Not to mention the grandaddy of all distortions, The Crucible, in which Arthur Miller manages to analogize witches (which didn't really exist) to American Communists who were loyal to the Soviet Union (who really did).