The Hollywood Jewish History exhibit at the Academy Museum will be changed

Hollywood Reporter

Following backlash from a group of Jewish activists, the Academy Museum of Motion Pictures in Los Angeles announced Monday it will revise its new exhibit on Hollywood’s Jewish roots.
The exhibit, titled Hollywoodland: Jewish Founders and the Making of a Movie Capital, opened officially on May 19, and was quickly met with criticism from many Jewish activists for its sometimes-negative portrayal of the Jewish studio founders, which some argued was antisemitic.
An open letter from a group called United Jewish Writers obtained by THR on Monday wrote that “while we acknowledge the value in confronting Hollywood’s problematic past, the despicable double standard of the Jewish Founders exhibit, blaming only the Jews for that problematic past, is unacceptable and, whether intentional or not, antisemitic.
We call on the Academy Museum to thoroughly redo this exhibit so that it celebrates the Jewish founders of Hollywood with the same respect and enthusiasm granted to those celebrated throughout the rest of the museum.” Specifically, the letter writers objected to the presence of the words “tyrant,” “oppressive,” “womanizer” and “predator” in the exhibit’s wall text.
They also wrote that Hollywoodland was “the only section of the museum that vilifies those it purports to celebrate.” But others noted that those descriptors were accurate when applied to the specific leaders highlighted in the exhibit.
The museum announced the changes before the letter’s circulation, but later reports stated it was signed by more than 300 individuals.
Hollywoodland: Jewish Founders and the Making of a Movie Capital was initially announced in response to criticism following the museum’s 2022 opening regarding the institution’s lack of acknowledgement of Hollywood’s Jewish past.
“It’s an egregious oversight.” The new exhibition is meant to highlight the role that Goldwyn, Louis B. Mayer and other Jewish immigrants played in founding the American film industry.

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The Academy Museum of Motion Pictures in Los Angeles announced on Monday that it would be changing its new exhibit on Hollywood’s Jewish heritage in response to criticism from a group of Jewish activists.

According to a statement the museum provided to The Hollywood Reporter on Monday, it had “heard the concerns from members of the Jewish community” and was “committed to making changes to the exhibition to address them.”. “.

The museum stated, “We will be implementing the first set of changes immediately— they will allow us to tell these important stories without using phrasing that may unintentionally reinforce stereotypes.” Convening an advisory group of experts from leading museums focused on the history of other marginalized groups, the Jewish community, and civil rights to advise us on complex questions about context and any necessary additions to the exhibition’s narrative is another move the museum announced. “.

The organization had already stated a few days prior that they were paying attention to the worries of activists.

Hollywoodland: Jewish Founders and the Making of a Movie Capital, the exhibition, was officially opened on May 19. However, it was soon criticized by a large number of Jewish activists for portraying the Jewish studio founders in a sometimes negative light, which some claimed was antisemitic.

While we acknowledge the importance of confronting Hollywood’s troubled past, the Jewish Founders’ vile double standard of blaming only Jews for that troubled past is unacceptable and, whether deliberate or not, antisemitic, according to an open letter from the group United Jewish Writers that THR obtained on Monday. We demand that the Academy Museum completely redesign this show in order to honor the Jewish pioneers of Hollywood with the same deference and fervor as those honored throughout the museum. “.

The specific terms that the letter writers took issue with were “tyrant,” “oppressive,” “womanizer,” and “predator” in the wall text of the exhibit. Hollywoodland, they added, is “the only section of the museum that vilifies those it purports to celebrate.”. “.

Others, however, pointed out that those descriptions fit the particular leaders the exhibit focused on. “This was always going to be the problem that caused Louis B. Mayer, Harry Cohn, and associates. their legacies are incredibly mixed in the museum,” Michael Schulman, a staff writer for The New Yorker, wrote on X. “They should be included; they shouldn’t be whitewashed. “.

An Empire of Their Own: How the Jews Invented Hollywood, written by Neal Gabler in 1989 and generally regarded as the definitive history of the industry’s origins, served as a major inspiration for the exhibit.

Although the letter was signed by over 300 people, reports later claimed that the museum made the changes public before it was circulated.

After the museum’s 2022 opening, there was backlash against the organization for not acknowledging Hollywood’s Jewish heritage. This led to the initial announcement of Hollywoodland: Jewish Founders and the Making of a Movie Capital.

“How is it possible not to acknowledge the Jewish men who started it all if you’re going to have a museum in Los Angeles tied to the Academy that celebrates arguably the most significant art form of the 20th century?” producer John Goldwyn, who was then the grandson of Sam Goldwyn, whose business endeavors a century earlier had resulted in the creation of both Paramount and MGM, asked. That is a grave mistake. “.

The goal of the new display is to draw attention to the part that Goldwyn, Louis B. The American film industry was founded by Mayer and other Jewish immigrants.

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