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FREEDOM, MODERNITY, AND MASS CULTURE

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  24 October 2013

FRANCIS G. COUVARES*
Affiliation:
Departments of History and American Studies, Amherst College E-mail: fgcouvares@amherst.edu

Extract

In Reforming Hollywood, William D. Romanowski defends mainline Protestants from the charge that they acted like bluenose censors during the movie controversies of the twentieth century. In fact, he claims, they consistently supported free expression even as they fought to make Hollywood acknowledge and give scope to moral values beyond the profit motive. Unlike these mainline Protestant “structuralists,” who sought to morally elevate the broader society, both Catholics in the earlier part of the century and evangelicals in the latter took a “pietistic” approach that emphasized individual morality and sought to censor obscenity, blasphemy, and ideological unorthodoxy in film. While structuralists (whom the author often simply identifies as liberals) wanted to cooperate with Hollywood in campaigns of “movie betterment,” pietists (conservatives) wanted to rein in the moviemakers and cleanse the screen of “unwholesome” content.

Type
Review Essays
Copyright
Copyright © Cambridge University Press 2013 

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References

1 An extreme version of this argument, almost to the point of parody, appears in Fenton, Elizabeth A., Religious Liberties: Anti-Catholicism and Liberal Democracy in Nineteenth-Century U.S. Literature and Culture (New York, 2011)CrossRefGoogle Scholar; for a more tempered account see McGreevy, John T., Catholicism and American Freedom: A History (New York, 2003)Google Scholar.

2 Tomlinson, John, Cultural Imperialism: A Critical Introduction (Baltimore, 1991)Google Scholar; also Guttmann, Allen, Games and Empires: Modern Sports and Cultural Imperialism (Philadelphia, 1994)Google Scholar. Horowitz, Daniel, Consuming Pleasures: Intellectuals and Popular Culture in the Postwar World (Philadelphia, 2012)CrossRefGoogle Scholar, offers level-headed assessments of cultural theories.

3 The phrase comes from Stuart Ewen, Captains of Consciousness: Advertising and the Social Roots of the Consumer Culture (New York, 1976), which argued (108) that advertising created a “commensurate cultural life” for a “machine civilization.”

4 Rabinowitz, 25, quoting Edwards, Richard Henry, Christianity and Amusements (New York, 1915)Google Scholar.

5 Wheeler, Leigh Ann, Against Obscenity: Reform and the Politics of Womanhood in America, 1873–1935 (Baltimore, 2004)Google Scholar, explores the attraction of censorship to Progressive women; recent apologies for censorship include Fish, Stanley, There's No Such Thing as Free Speech, and It's a Good Thing, Too (New York, 1994)Google Scholar; and MacKinnon, Catharine A., Only Words (Cambridge, MA, 1993)Google Scholar.

6 Green, Steven K., The Second Disestablishment: Church and State in Nineteenth-Century America (New York, 2010)CrossRefGoogle Scholar; Sehat, David, The Myth of American Religious Freedom (New York, 2011)Google Scholar.

7 Rabban, David M., Free Speech in Its Forgotten Years (New York, 1997)Google Scholar.

8 Black, Gregory D., Hollywood Censored: Morality Codes, Catholics, and the Movies (New York, 1994)Google Scholar; Black, The Catholic Crusade against the Movies, 1940–1975 (New York, 1998); Walsh, Frank, Sin and Censorship: The Catholic Church and the Motion Picture Industry (New Haven, CT, 1996)Google Scholar; Doherty, Thomas, Hollywood's Censor: Joseph I. Breen and the Production Code Administration (New York, 2007)Google Scholar; Couvares, Francis G., “Hollywood, Main Street, and the Church: Trying to Censor the Movies before the Production Code,” in Couvares, , ed., Movie Censorship and American Culture, 2nd edn (Amherst, MA, 2006), 129–58Google Scholar.

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