The Hollywood Blacklist and the Whitewashing of American Culture

By :  Ellie Gettinger Director of Digital Learning, JTS Posted On Dec 12, 2022 / 5783 | Dangerous Ideas Monday Webinar

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Part of the series, “Dangerous Ideas: Censorship Through a Jewish Lens”

With Ellie Gettinger, Director of Digital Learning, JTS

The Hollywood Blacklist is one censorious aspect of the larger Red Scare that limited the freedoms of speech and assembly through the 1950s. Yet the political policing and litmus tests required for screenwriters, actors, and producers in this period led to a monumental shift in the way that American culture was represented on screen (both large and small). This session explores the political climate that led to the blacklist and how it fundamentally changed the film industry. 


Throughout Jewish history, certain texts and ideas have been deemed too dangerous to circulate—whether by outsiders who banned Jewish writings, or Jewish leaders who suppressed ideas considered heretical or beyond the pale. In this series, JTS scholars will examine efforts to control knowledge from ancient to contemporary times, exploring the ways in which censorship both reflects and shapes broader ideological struggles. They will discuss the varying motivations for controlling or revising narratives, and consider whether and under what circumstances it might make sense to suppress certain ideas. These discussions will illuminate past struggles and help us understand the battles over censorship and free expression playing out today. 


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