The documentary “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 Dream.
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 makes 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 to 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.