“Hollywoodism: Jews, Movies, and the
American Dream”, explains how a number of Jewish immigrants in the
beginning of nineteen century built the most known six movie studios in
Hollywood. Despite America’s open-door immigration policy for all immigrants,
Jews, perhaps more than other minorities, encountered a new form a discrimination.
The documakers say that they were viewed as outsiders and were blacklisted from
working in certain fields such as finance, banking, and other higher education
careers. Hence, they formed their own communities and their own version of real
America, practicing their own religion, opening their own businesses in the
garment industry and movie production. Because of the intense discrimination
against Jews, especially those involved in the movie-theater industry in New
York and Chicago, many of them moved to Hollywood, California building their
own studios and working as screenwriters, directors, and producers. Yet, after
the World War II, some U.S politicians accused Jews, particularly those in
Hollywood industry for being pro-communism and affiliated with communism. As a
result, some of the founders of the Hollywood industry were prosecuted and
imprisoned by the House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC) in the 1950s as
well as others were blacklisted for many years after. Thus, this documentary
film explains how Jewish immigrants, despite the barriers of discrimination, created
their own Hollywood movie studious accomplishing their version of the American
What was most interesting? One interesting point in viewing this
documentary is that this documentary could hint that the film industry was
strictly created by Jews which may lead to the question which producer,
director, or actor is Jewish in the movies that were made in the beginning of
the nineteen century. Consequently, it may provoke a hint of Anti-Semitism to
whoever does any kind of critical analysis of Jewish activities in the world.
The other interesting aspect is that often free-thinking ordinary people make
documentaries, thus, I do not find illegitimate for one group to have an
opinion about the traits of another group and raise the issue of Anti-Semitism.
Additionally, while I believe that there were Gentile entrepreneurs in the
1920s and aftermath, Jews were the ones that controlled the movies’ production,
distribution, and exhibition in Hollywood at that time. These Jewish
entrepreneurs also had a brilliant sense of what the public would like to watch
along with the willingness to work hard and have a strong personal drive which
made them advance in this industry. Overall, the interesting point that I would
like to make in regard to this documentary is that besides studying who
invented the Hollywood, the documakers should be also studying their tactics
how they advanced to become the dominant ethnic group in Hollywood and learn
how to replicate them.
What was most surprising? It is
somewhat surprising and hard to believe that in America where freedom and
rights are at the heart of Americans, many Jews immigrants were still
persecuted for their ethnicity and other political views. It is also, somewhat
surprising that the entrepreneurs who founded the Hollywood were
first-generation Eastern Europeans Jewish immigrants who were fortunate not
because of their ethnicity or connected with elite entrepreneurs or immigrated
already trained to be producers or directors in the entertainment industry.
Rather, they were high-risk takers who demonstrated how to manage retail and
marketing industry, while allowed themselves to believe that they could succeed
in another kind of industry such film industry.
What is your overall reaction to the
history of Hollywood presented in this documentary? By watching this documentary,
I depicted the following views. First, Jews, as new immigrants wanted to be
fully integrated and assimilated and they did through their own movies by
presenting to American people their own perception of American values and
virtues. They portrayed American culture
by creating dreams whilst they wanted to assimilate, integrate, and acceptance
into the American mainstreams culture.
Second, while it appeared that Jews immigrants had a particular sense of
what a movie-goer liked to watch, they created their own movie productions to
please the American popular culture. Overall, my response to this documentary
movie is that the interest and involvement of Jews in the Hollywood movie
industry is a complex topic that brings a lot of conflicting responses.