Book

Reforming Hollywood

William D. Romanowski

Published in print June 2012 | ISBN: 9780195387841
Published online September 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780199950188 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195387841.001.0001
Reforming Hollywood

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This book chronicles for the first time the long and varied efforts of American Protestants—from Presbyterians and Episcopalians to fundamentalists and evangelicals—to influence the film industry. Representing the reigning religious and cultural establishment at the dawn of the cinema, Protestants struggled to formulate a constructive approach to Hollywood, which was a crucial site where non-Protestant and non-Christian players gained a new voice in the public arena. Drawing on personal interviews and previously untouched archival sources, this interdisciplinary study describes how mainline church leaders lobbied filmmakers to promote the nation’s moral health and, perhaps surprisingly, how they have by and large opposed government censorship, preferring instead self-regulation by both the industry and individual conscience. Tensions with Catholics, too, loomed large—many Protestant clergy feared the influence of the Legion of Decency more than Hollywood’s corrupting power. The rise of the evangelical movement in the 1970s radically altered the picture in contradictory ways. Even as born-again clergy denounced “Hollywood elites,” major studios began exploiting the emergence of a lucrative evangelical market. This book presents an original historical exploration that provides a corrective to the overemphasis on Catholic influence and makes a compelling case for a reassessment of the role that Protestants played in film regulation throughout the last century.

Keywords: Protestants; Catholics; Hollywood; censorship; Legion of Decency; film regulation; evangelical market

Book.  336 pages.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Religious Studies

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Table of Contents

Introduction in Reforming Hollywood

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Reforming the Movies in Reforming Hollywood

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On the Trail of the Serpent in Reforming Hollywood

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The Worst That Could Happen in Reforming Hollywood

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One Foot in Hollywood in Reforming Hollywood

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