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The Dawn of Television Promised Diversity. Here’s Why We Got “Leave It to Beaver” Instead.

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tags: FBI, diversity



At the start of the Cold War, a prominent group of women, who had worked their way up in broadcast media in the 1930s and ’40s, were poised to use the new medium of television to create the kind of inclusive, intersectional content that is only today finding traction. Then, the blacklist, a vicious, hearsay-riddled manifest of Hollywood talent with ties to Communism, silenced their creative output. It effectively turned back on the dial of progressive representations on TV by decades.

“It’s hard for me to watch things and to hear about [today’s] writers and directors talk about their work without thinking about that earlier generation,” says Carol A. Stabile, a professor of women’s gender and sexuality studies at the University of Oregon and the author of the newly released book, The Broadcast 41: Women and the Anti-Communist Blacklist.

The Broadcast 41 tells a story about what happens when non-male, non-white perspectives are excluded from media industries, and it imagines what the new medium of television might have looked like had dissenting viewpoints not been eliminated at such a formative moment.

A much-needed addition to television scholarship, The Broadcast 41 uses original archival research and FBI documents to piece together the stories of the 41 women named on the list.

Read entire article at Smithsonian

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