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Price: $29.95

Hardback 320 pp.
25 illustrations, 6.125" x 9.25"



Publication date:
July 2012

Imprint: OUP US

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Reforming Hollywood

How American Protestants Fought for Freedom at the Movies

William D. Romanowski

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.

Readership : Readers interested in movies, religion, and American history.

1. Reforming the Movies: What Could Possibly Go Wrong?
2. The Federal Council of Churches Enters the Frame
3. Putting a Presbyterian in Charge of Hollywood
4. On the Trail of the Serpent: Will Hays and the Protestant Crusade
5. Protestants and Hollywood at the Crossroads
6. The Worst That Could Happen: A Catholic Legion of "Decency"
7. One Foot in Hollywood: The Protestant Film Commission
8. Movie Consulting-Protestant Style
9. High Noon in the Broadcasting and Film Commission
10. And the Winner Is: The Protestant Film Awards
11. No Longer a Dirty Word: This Film Will Now Be Rated
12. A Changing of the Guard
13. The Curious Case of Evangelicals
Suggested Readings

There are no Instructor/Student Resources available at this time.

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.

Making Sense - Margot Northey and Joan McKibbin
Teaching Religion and Film - Gregory J Watkins
Catholics in the Movies - Edited by Colleen McDannell

Special Features

  • First full-fledged treatment of the role of Protestantism in Hollywood.