Reforming Hollywood: How American Protestants Fought for Freedom at the Movies

William D. Romanowski. Oxford Univ., $29.95 (320p) ISBN 978-0-19-538784-1
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. (July)
Reviewed on: 05/21/2012
Release date: 06/01/2012
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Hardcover - 329 pages - 978-0-19-996918-0
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