When the favored Academy Museum of Movement Photos opened in 2021 with reveals celebrating the range of the movie trade, the museum was criticized for having largely omitted one group: the Jewish founders of Hollywood.

Final month, the museum aimed to appropriate that oversight by opening a everlasting new exhibition highlighting the formative function that Jewish immigrants like Samuel Goldwyn and Louis B. Mayer performed in creating he American movie trade.

However the brand new exhibition, which turns a generally vital eye on Hollywood’s founders, ignited an uproar. An open letter despatched to the museum on Monday objected to using phrases together with “tyrant,” “oppressive,” “womanizer” and “predator” in its wall textual content, known as the exhibit “antisemitic” and described it as “the one part of the museum that vilifies these it purports to rejoice.”

In response to the rising outcry, the Academy Museum mentioned in an announcement Monday that it had “heard the considerations from members of the Jewish group” and that it was “dedicated to creating modifications to the exhibition to handle them.”

“We will likely be implementing the primary set of modifications instantly — they’ll enable us to inform these essential tales with out utilizing phrasing that will unintentionally reinforce stereotypes,” the museum mentioned.

The museum introduced the modifications simply earlier than receiving an open letter, from “United Jewish Writers,” that was signed by greater than 300 Hollywood professionals. “Whereas we acknowledge the worth in confronting Hollywood’s problematic previous, the despicable double normal of the Jewish Founders exhibit, blaming solely the Jews for that problematic previous, is unacceptable and, whether or not intentional or not, antisemitic,” mentioned the letter. “We name on the Academy Museum to completely redo this exhibit in order that it celebrates the Jewish founders of Hollywood with the identical respect and enthusiasm granted to these celebrated all through the remainder of the museum.”

The signatories included the leisure govt Casey Wasserman, the actor David Schwimmer and the tv author Amy Sherman-Palladino.

“This isn’t unconscious bias, that is aware bias,” one of many signers, Lawrence Bender, who produced Quentin Tarantino’s movies, mentioned in an interview. “It appears like a hatchet job on the Jews.”

The exhibition, which opened final month, drew on the work of Neal Gabler, who wrote the well-respected “An Empire of Their Personal: How the Jews Invented Hollywood.” It included a piece in regards to the founding of Hollywood studios, a have a look at the evolution of Los Angeles and a documentary, “From the Shtetl to the Studio: The Jewish Story of Hollywood,” narrated by Ben Mankiewicz, the TCM host.

There have been some constructive critiques. Whereas criticizing the absence of archival objects, for instance, The Wall Street Journal said that the exhibition “ought to quell the restive voices calling for explicitly Jewish illustration inside this museum and a few acknowledgment of the trade’s earliest historical past.”

However damaging responses quickly emerged amid heightened sensitivity about antisemitism within the wake of the Oct. 7 assault on Israel and the conflict in Gaza. TheWrap reported on rising criticisms final week, and a bit in Los Angeles Journal headlined “Hiding in Plain Sight: How the Academy Museum Relegated Hollywood’s Jewish Founders to the Ghetto,” reported that Alma Har’el, an Israeli American movie director who had served on the museum’s inclusivity committee, resigned after touring the exhibition.

Some critics took difficulty with what they noticed because the exhibition’s implication that Hollywood’s Jewish pioneers had discriminated in opposition to different marginalized teams as a method to assimilate, noting its dialogue of blackface “The Jazz Singer.”

“Nothing is alleged of D.W. Griffith’s or Walt Disney’s infamously racist depictions or questionable management strategies,” Keetgi Kogan, a Hollywood author and producer, wrote to the museum. “It is just the Jewish founders who’re accused of oppressive management, of being white washers, tyrants, womanizers, predators, social climbers, and naturally, racists.”

Jonathan A. Greenblatt, chief govt of the Anti-Defamation League, mentioned that “we’re each shocked and shocked that the Academy made an effort to get this proper and someway appears to have gotten it incorrect.”

The controversy over the exhibition got here to a head two weeks after the Academy announced that the museum’s director and president, Jacqueline Stewart, can be stepping down. Stewart, a movie historian and the recipient of a 2021 MacArthur Foundation “genius” award, will return to the University of Chicago, where she is a professor. She will likely be succeeded by Amy Homma, the museum’s chief viewers officer, who serves on the Anti-Defamation League’s leisure management council.

Academy officers mentioned her departure was unrelated to the exhibition. In an interview, Stewart mentioned that it had been “an enormous studying expertise for us,” and added that the museum had not meant to emphasise the damaging, however to convey “a way of pleasure and exploration and innovation.”

The museum mentioned it will convene “an advisory group of consultants from main museums centered on the Jewish group, civil rights, and the historical past of different marginalized teams.”

It has already agreed to satisfy with a few of the critics. Jennifer Levine, a producer, mentioned she has an appointment scheduled for the week after subsequent, having been “heartbroken and saddened” after visiting the exhibition on opening day.



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