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The Manchurian Candidate: Uniquely American Symptoms

Here is an interesting bit that I simply had to take note of. In The Manchurian Candidate, the communist leader — you know the one; the mustachioed Korean — says that guilt and fear are uniquely American symptoms. This is interesting in light of the conversation in class. In class, we talked about the movie satirizing McCarthy. Looking at the film again, I don’t think it really does. Yes, Senator Iselin freely accuses any opponent of being a communist or at least a communist sympathizer, and he drums up hysteria about communism. However, in contradiction to this, the film views communism just as McCarthy did. According to the film’s philosophy, communists conspire secretly in America, obsess over capitalism, do not possess such universally human emotions as guilt and fear, and are essentially one-dimensional bad guys. Perhaps Raymond’s mother has more dimension, but I think they only allow her to have it because she is herself an American. This is an interesting contradiction. It would seem that the film agrees with McCarthy’s philosophy about communism but believes that McCarthy himself is too stupid to take care of the problem. It’s hard to view the movie as a satire about McCarthy when it openly agrees with McCarthyism. Perhaps the dialog in the rest home for recovering alcoholics, in which the above-mentioned statement about guilt and fear is made, is itself supposed to be a satire, but it doesn’t taste like one, if you get my meaning. It doesn’t have the texture of a satire. It feels like it genuinely subscribes to the anti-communist propoganda of the day, and was poorly written by a credulous idiot.

A revision; on further re-watching, it would appear that the film agrees with McCarthy’s fears, but not his methods. It decries his insinuations about anyone with whom he disagrees, and his desire to harm the innocent in the name of catching enemies of the nation. At the same time, it says that McCarthy’s fears are well-founded; that the propaganda about communism is correct. Communists are just like McCarthy says, and they are a very real threat to America. It’s an interesting statement to make.

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