The Cold War refers to the era between 1945 and 1989, when the United States and its allies were engaged in a contest for the “hearts and minds” of the world, in opposition to the efforts of the USSR and its satellites in the Soviet bloc. Among the key elements...
The Cold War refers to the era between 1945 and 1989, when the United States and its allies were engaged in a contest for the “hearts and minds” of the world, in opposition to the efforts of the USSR and its satellites in the Soviet bloc. Among the key elements of the “war” were an emphasis on consumerism, which promoted American products as necessary and superior; the Space Race; and extensive propaganda portraying all elements of post-Revolutionary Russia as bad.
Television played a key role in disseminating pro-American and anti-Soviet propaganda. Situation comedies routinely touted the peaceful, orderly life of happy, American, suburban nuclear families, while commercials showcased the products that Americans could gain happiness by purchasing. Social problems at home were downplayed, while Soviet Russia was shown to be severely afflicted with shortages.
After the Soviets successfully launched a satellite, Sputnik, in 1957, and then placed a cosmonaut into orbit, the United States accelerated its efforts to surpass the achievement. Once the US space program had developed enough to catch up, President Kennedy declared the goal of reaching the moon, which the nation accomplished in 1969.
Anti-Communism at home and anti-Soviet information were promoted in films as well. Espionage became a standard subject of popular culture, both in light-hearted treatments such as James Bond movies and in severe indictments such as I Was a Communist for the FBI. The risk that Soviet methods of “brainwashing” could turn loyal Americans into traitors was emphasized in The Manchurian Candidate, which built on the anti-Red hysteria of McCarthyism and the House Committee hearings.