During the six-and-a-half-year occupation of Japan (1945-1952),
U.S. film studios-in close coordination with Douglas MacArthur's
Supreme Command for the Allied Powers-launched an ambitious
campaign to extend their power and influence in a historically rich
but challenging film market. In this far-reaching "enlightenment
campaign," Hollywood studios disseminated more than six hundred
films to theaters, earned significant profits, and showcased the
American way of life as a political, social, and cultural model for
the war-shattered Japanese population.
In Screening Enlightenment, Hiroshi Kitamura shows how
this expansive attempt at cultural globalization helped transform
Japan into one of Hollywood's key markets. He also demonstrates the
prominent role American cinema played in the "reeducation" and
"reorientation" of the Japanese on behalf of the U.S. government.
According to Kitamura, Hollywood achieved widespread results by
turning to the support of U.S. government and military authorities,
which offered privileged deals to American movies while rigorously
controlling Japanese and other cinematic products. The presentation
of American ideas and values as an emblem of culture, democracy,
and sophistication also allowed the U.S. film industry to expand.
However, the studios' efforts would not have been nearly as
extensive without the Japanese intermediaries and consumers who
interestingly served as the program's best publicists.
Drawing on a wide range of sources, from studio memos and
official documents of the occupation to publicity materials and
Japanese fan magazines, Kitamura shows how many Japanese supported
Hollywood and became active agents of Americanization. A truly
interdisciplinary book that combines U.S. diplomatic and cultural
history, film and media studies, and modern Japanese history,
Screening Enlightenment offers new insights into the
origins of this unique political and cultural transpacific
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