Between Free Speech and Propaganda: Denaturing the Political in the Early American Movie Industry
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The American movie industry did not have to develop into the Hollywood dream factory. There were educative, religious, explicitly political, and other non-commercial alternative arrangements to America’s film industry. These alternatives, along with principles such as film free speech and movie propaganda, had to be cast aside by the emerging moguls of Hollywood. Conflicts with the vanquished liquor industries, moral and economic regulatory concerns, Republican Party politics, and the resurgent Klan all shaped the classic Hollywood system from 1906 to 1927, a 20-year period in which the American film industry depoliticized the Hollywood movie screen, shedding its democratic and propagandistic definitions for the politics of publicity and entertainment as a service to Americans. Developments in this infant industry also shaped the broader trajectory of American consumer capitalism toward big producer control and the self-regulation of the industry’s social effects.