Saturday, February 19, 2011

Politics of the Body Snatchers

Daniel Mainwaring’s classic black and white science fiction flick Invasion of the Body Snatchers released in 1956 serves a purpose to entertain viewers with its thrilling storyline, but it also sets out to reveal deep opinions of anti-communist persuasions of the time.

The McCarthy Era spanned approximately one decade and lambasted Senator Joseph McCarthy and his anti-communist pursuits. This led to many thousands of Americans being accused of partaking in communists activities or even being commies themselves. Suspicion became a huge epidemic in the country. We see this same kind of suspicion take place in the film. People come forth to a community doctor and accuse their family members of being characterless impostors. It is however hard to tell at first if their suspicions are true because the afflicted people act like humans so flawlessly, but we come to realize that these people have no cultures, minds or emotions of their own.

As the paranoia is setting in most people in the town are being changed into these seemingly lifeless doppelgangers. This theme is a cautionary tale of what can happen if people become blind or intentionally turn away from the spreading of harmful ideologies, like communism.

Interestingly, these types paranoia and suspicions had multiple effects on American life with such establishments as the House of Un-Americans Activities Committee and these censorship changes even made their way into the Hollywood scene. Many writers, directors and production studios were blacklisted due to their controversial work.

1 comment:

  1. I also found the political undertones in the Invasion of the Body Snatchers to be very interesting. One reading of the film that I keep returning to is one of support or reinforcement of the ideals of McCarthyism. At first, a few hysterical townspeople begin to point out alleged impostors among them, often close family members. The unfamiliar people are, of course, the pod people. Despite their fierce protests and appeals to their family and friends, these people are for the most part ignored. As a result, the pod people are able to continue infiltrating the entire town's population. This seems to suggest that the townspeople should have investigated the accusations made about the true identity of their neighbors because had action been taken, maybe the pod people could have been stopped. This idea of taking action before the 'epidemic' can spread any further is in line with McCarthy's ideology of accusations and investigations. Although we view the era of McCarthyism negatively today, perhaps when this movie was produced American citizens still valued a system that would protect them from the spread of communism at any expense.