October 25, 2007

Marvel heroes and the McCarthy Era

David Bernstein at the Volokh Conspiracy takes a quote by the Fantastic Four's Mr. Fantastic (Reed Richards) to Spider-Man (Peter Parker) about government coercion:

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.]

Mr. F was actually on the government's side in the "epic" (only in size, not quality) "Civil War." Seems he's trying to express that he doesn't want to become Uncle Ted ...?? Bernstein thinks that Mr. F is overstating the case:

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 wrote about using comics as too-close-to-reality allegories here. Or, better yet, Tom Spurgeon -- who I quote in the post -- wrote about it. To a tee.

(h/t to Soccer Dad.)

Posted by Hube at October 25, 2007 04:15 PM | TrackBack

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