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Reforming Hollywood

How American Protestants Fought for Freedom at the Movies

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Description

Religious Communication Association's Book of the Year Hollywood and Christianity often seem to be at war. Indeed, there is a long list of movies that have attracted religious condemnation, from Gone with the Wind with its notorious "damn," to The Life of Brian and The Last Temptation of Christ. But the reality, writes William Romanowski, has been far more complicated--and remarkable. In Reforming Hollywood, Romanowski, a leading historian of popular culture, explores the long and varied efforts of Protestants to influence the film industry. He shows how a broad spectrum of religious forces have played a role in Hollywood, from Presbyterians and Episcopalians to fundamentalists and evangelicals. Drawing on personal interviews and previously untouched sources, he 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. "It is this human choice," noted one Protestant leader, "that is the basis of our religion." Tensions with Catholics, too, have loomed large--many Protestant clergy feared the influence of the Legion of Decency more than Hollywood's corrupting power. Romanowski shows that 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 noted the emergence of a lucrative evangelical market. 20th Century-Fox formed FoxFaith to go after the "Passion dollar," and Disney took on evangelical Philip Anschutz as a partner to bring The Chronicles of Narnia to the big screen. William Romanowski is an award-winning commentator on the intersection of religion and popular culture. Reforming Hollywood is his most revealing, provocative, and groundbreaking work on this vital area of American society.

From Publishers Weekly

May 21, 2012 – Pop culture expert Romanowski (Eyes Wide Open) offers a subtle and surprising thesis: far from being censorious, American Protestants have for a century had a formative, complex, often cooperative relationship with the Hollywood film industry through a variety of commission, councils, and representatives seeking to use film to promote and improve the nation’s moral health. The book brims with historical evidence—gathered from interviews and periodicals and painstakingly footnoted—that proves and provides nuance to Romanowski’s argument. The historian spends some time getting going, and readers may become impatient with prose that plods as the author reconstructs past events and alliances. By contrast, the portion of his account that deals with such recent phenomena as the development of a Christian film market seems too brief. Especially fascinating is the illumination of the cultural and political forces that developed culture wars in the entertainment arena. The book will be most useful for students of film and popular culture, because as a read it’s dull. But anyone who thinks that Hollywood has become decadent ought to read this book. Such a complaint is as old as the industry itself.
Reforming Hollywood
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  • $22.99
  • Available on iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, and Mac.
  • Category: United States
  • Published: Jun 14, 2012
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press
  • Seller: Oxford University Press
  • Print Length: 336 Pages
  • Language: English
  • Requirements: To view this book, you must have an iOS device with iBooks 1.3.1 or later and iOS 4.3.3 or later, or a Mac with iBooks 1.0 or later and OS X 10.9 or later.

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