Reforming Hollywood How American Protestants Fought for Freedom at the Movies

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  • Format: Hardcover
  • Copyright: 2012-06-26
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press

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Hollywood and Christianity often seem to be at war. Indeed, there is a long list of movies that have attracted religious condemnation, fromGone with the Windwith its notorious "damn," toThe Life of BrianandThe Last Temptation of Christ. But the reality, writes William Romanowski, has been far more complicated--and remarkable. InReforming 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 bringThe Chronicles of Narniato the big screen. William Romanowski is an award-winning commentator on the intersection of religion and popular culture.Reforming Hollywoodis his most revealing, provocative, and groundbreaking work on this vital area of American society.

Author Biography

William Romanowski is Professor of Communication Arts and Sciences at Calvin College. His books include Eyes Wide Open: Looking for God in Popular Culture (a 2002 ECPA Gold Medallion Award Winner) and Pop Culture Wars: Religion and the Role of Entertainment in America Life.

Table of Contents

Preface and Acknowledgmentsp. xi
Introductionp. 3
Reforming the Movies: What Could Possibly Go Wrong?p. 13
The Federal Council of Churches Enters the Framep. 27
Putting a Presbyterian in Charge of Hollywoodp. 43
On the Trail of the Serpent: Will Hays and the Protestant Crusadep. 62
Protestants and Hollywood at the Crossroadsp. 76
The Worst That Could Happen: A Catholic Legion of "Decency"p. 93
One Foot in Hollywood: The Protestant Film Commissionp. 108
Movie Consulting-Protestant Stylep. 124
High Noon in the Broadcasting and Film Commissionp. 141
And the Winner Is: The Protestant Film Awardsp. 157
No Longer a Dirty Word: This Film Will Now Be Ratedp. 172
A Changing of the Guardp. 185
The Curious Case of Evangelicalsp. 198
Conclusionp. 211
The Castp. 215
Abbreviations Used in Notesp. 221
Notesp. 225
Indexp. 281
Table of Contents provided by Ingram. All Rights Reserved.

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