Reforming Hollywood by William D. Romanowski
How American Protestants Fought for Freedom at the Movies

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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.

About William D. Romanowski

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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.
Published May 28, 2012 by Oxford University Press. 308 pages
Genres: History, Religion & Spirituality, Humor & Entertainment. Non-fiction

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Publishers Weekly

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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 represe...

May 21 2012 | Read Full Review of Reforming Hollywood: How Amer...

The Gospel Coalition

The movies were “probably reaching more people day by day than the combined Protestant churches of the country” (21), and they knew it.

| Read Full Review of Reforming Hollywood: How Amer...

Carlin Romano

Young historians must secure their careers before they do harebrained things like writing books that intelligent non-academics want to read” But I say it is not the way the world is – it is the world that the profession of history has made all by itself in the past several decades as we have move...

Jul 09 2013 | Read Full Review of Reforming Hollywood: How Amer...

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