S-Space Researcher Institutes (연구소) American Studies Institute (미국학연구소) 미국학 미국학 Volume 33 Number 1/2 (2010)
The Color of Brainwashing: The Manchurian Candidate and the Cultural Logic of Cold War Paranoia
- Kim, Swan
- Issue Date
- 서울대학교 미국학연구소
- 미국학, Vol.33 No.1, pp. 167-195
- In this paper, I trace paranoia’s emergence in American culture during the postwar experience, including nuclear anxiety, the Red Scare, and the Cold War, by looking at The Manchurian Candidate. Often considered a concealed satire of political hysteria, the film has often been reviewed in the context of the political crisis of the era －of McCarthyism, Cold War, communism, Momism, assassination, and the political intrigue. The scholarly absorption in these ideological and cultural fears led critics to overlook the critical context of race despite the clear intersections between ideology and race in the film’s translation of the Red scare to “Yellow peril” and its redefinition of Asianness. Set in Communist Manchuria, the film’s sinister “Orientals” disguise themselves as spies and infiltrate the minds of American POWs through brainwashing. The film continues to dismantle ideological and racial dynamics as an Asian ex-spy converts to a faithful servant so as to be allowed to step onto American soil. I argue that the investigation of race in this film complicates the ideological binary and questions the grounds for assuming mutually exclusive sides of paranoid relationships. By considering how race highlights the complex cultural logic of Cold War paranoia, this paper attempts to break through what may seem like a consistent discourse of oppositions and calls for a far more flexible model of Cold War paranoia than an ideological binary would allow.
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