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A Deserving Blacklist

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On October 5, 2011, Dan Shechtman finally was awarded the Nobel Prize in Chemistry. His discovery? Quasicrystals, atoms in a crystal that pack together in a non-repeating pattern. Shechtman discovered this 1982, but this idea was considered radical and revolutionary. He was asked to leave his research group. His idea conflicted with all textbooks. Eventually, his work and research gained prominence, which culminated in the Nobel Prize in Chemistry. Another man has won an award that he deserved, but was rejected in previous years. Elia Kazan, an amazing American film director won the Honorary Lifetime Achievement Award in 1999. He had been rejected previously by the American Film Institute and the Los Angeles Film Critics Association because of his actions in 1952. In this fateful year, Mr. Kazan was called upon by the U.S. House of Representatives Committee of Un-American Activities to name the names of people who were members of the American Communist Party in the 1930s. He put 8 people out of work in the film industry. Due to those actions, Mr. Kazan did not receive the Honorary Lifetime Achievement Award until 1999. It is appropriate that Elia Kazan received the Honorary Lifetime Achievement Award because he deserved the award and did not name the names that he for selfish gain.

Elia Kazan deserved the award. The Honorary Lifetime Achievement Award is given out to honor extraordinary distinction in lifetime achievement, exceptional contributions to the state of motion picture arts and sciences, or for outstanding service to the Academy. Nowhere in the description of this award is the point that naming names can declare the person unworthy of the award. Elia Kazan did contribute exceptionally to the film industry through his movies On the Waterfront, A Streetcar Named Desire, Viva Zapata, and East of Eden. Mr. Kazan's movies propelled the careers of some actors into motion. Mr. Kazan never took anything away from the Academy by naming the names that he did.

Elia Kazan did not name names for selfish gain. When called to testify for the House of un-American Activities, Kazan never accused the 8 of anything in particular. He simply gave the House direct answers to its questions. Kazan did not insinuate anything by giving those names. Kazan did not gain anything by giving those names. He wasn't given a large sum of money, or even an award. Some may say that Kazan legitimized the claims of these proceedings by naming names as did Abigail Williams in Kazan's best friend's play, The Crucible. However, because Kazan did not give the House any solid proof that the 8 had done anything bad against the government, he didn't give the House something to work with. This leads in to the real culprit, the House. The House instigated fear in Americans. It threatened witnesses by putting them on the "blacklist", a list that signified the end of a career, if the witnesses failed to state people's names. No doubt witnesses, like Kazan, felt threatened by this harsh interrogation. Kazan deserved the award, but did not deserve the possibility of ending a career. Kazan, a renowned director, could not just throw away a life's work .The matter at stake is the legacy he left in his movies. If his career had ended, his legacy would have died out. The importance of his movies would have been lost. It was imperative that Kazan remain a director. It is disappointing that 8 people sacrificed their career for his career. However, the House had no authority to condemn those 8. There never was, never is, and never will be proof that those 8 were planning to overthrow the American government. Furthermore, those 8 are protected by freedom of expression. They supported a different form of government, hardly a reason to end their careers.

Kazan deserved the Honorary Lifetime Achievement Award. He achieved something great. Kazan did not deserve to be black-listed for a group that he no longer supported. In all points, the House is at fault. They needlessly put fear into American hearts, and then destroyed lives of the innocent. Elia Kazan's career survived the axe, a warning sign that never again should such a great fear be started.



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