The 2005 black and white film Good Night and Good Luck is able to present multiple views and perspective of belonging through the threats of communism and the sense of belonging that is associated by this context. The three most prominent ideas placed forth throughout the film about belonging are that belonging comes at the price of conformity, that fear can be used to silence those who choose to challenge the authority of the group and that choosing not to belong requires great courage and the acceptance of ostracism. The idea of Belonging comes at a price of conformity is strongly represented throughout the film as McCarthyism is presenting the idea that to belong or fit in one must believe what everyone else must believe in and act likewise.
At the beginning of the film no one is prepared to confront or disobey what is considered the ‘right’ thing by McCarthy and his committee as they were too afraid of being accused themselves. Those that did not oppose McCarthyism and their leaders felt that they could belong as they shared a common belief and all acted in the same way to keep their sense of belonging intact and preserved. Edward Murrow uses a metaphor to display this idea of belonging through the statement, “I see a chain reaction that has no end. This quote displays that if people are pressured to conform to the majority, it will be a never ending cycle with all choice and freedom taken from the individual. A second observation of belonging I observed in the film, Good Night and Good Luck, was that fear can be used to silence those who choose to challenge the authority of the group. Joseph McCarthy uses fear to control the country by accusing anyone that opposes him by declaring them to be communists themselves. This fear prevents people from speaking up against McCarthy as they are afraid of being ostracised and from not belonging.
This is shown when Edward Murrow stands up to McCarthy and speaks against him, and in response McCarthy discredits Murrow by claiming he is a communist and cannot be believed. Throughout the film, particularly towards the end we get the sense that choosing not to belong requires great courage and the acceptance of ostracism. At the beginning of the story we see that McCarthy has everyone under his control and he has the power of the country. However as the movie progresses we see that Murrow and the CBS news team begin to rebel against McCarthyism and are required to show great courage to do what everyone else is too afraid to pursue.
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Also, we see that as their movement persists, Murrow is framed by McCarthy as he attempts to be ostracised from the mainstream society and not allowed to belong. Good Night and Good Luck has altered my understanding of belonging as it has opened my eyes to the negative aspects of belonging and the harmful consequences that result from belonging. The film is a strong text to be able to create awareness of belonging requiring courage as it can bring fear and conformity among those in the group.
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