Backstory: Hollywood & The Pentagon

Thursday, September 01, 2011

Hollywood and the Pentagon have a long history of cooperation. On today’s Backstory segment David Sirota, a journalist radio host and author of Back to Our Future: How the 1980s Explain the World We Live in Now, examines how the Department of Defense leans on major studios to change their scripts in ways that promote militarism.


David Sirota

Comments [10]

Nick from Brooklyn

There is much to say about docs as well like Resrepo which in fact glorifies war. At least that is the feeling I had when finished watching it. It was as efficient a go army commercial. And this has to do with access.
If the film showed the war for what it really was like another similar doc actually is successful doing - "Armadillo" then the filmmakers would probably not have the access for their next film.

Sep. 02 2011 10:16 AM
clive betters

brett, u make no sense at all..........

Sep. 01 2011 11:03 PM
Zachary from Manhattan

The pro-military tone of the Transformers films is nauseating. Michael Bay turned my beloved childhood heroes into tools of propaganda.
I am also very disturbed to by the extremely militaristic tone of video games, it has gotten creepy, feeling like they are trying to indoctrinate me through my XBox.

Besides a boycott, how can we protest? I prefer to experience things for myself, so I only know I have been conned after I bought my ticket.

Sep. 01 2011 01:46 PM
EVC from B'klyn

What is the Pentagon's annual marketing budget?

Sep. 01 2011 01:44 PM
Hugh Sansom

Many thanks for addressing a crucial subject.

The Pentagon-Hollywood alliance Sirota describes fits disturbingly well with the growing militarism of American society that has grown without interruption since the Reagan years (indeed, arguably, since the Carter years).

Obama is every bit as great a part of this as W. Bush.

Consider representations of the police, of prosecutors, or (by contrast) whistleblowers, Arabs and Muslims, and so on, there is a broad spectrum of developments that point to a American future that is even more militaristic.

Consider also the utterly unquestioning attitude of NPR, The New York Times, CNN, etc., to military claims (surgical strikes), the attacks on releases by Wikileaks and others.

And consider the education of American children and college student.

Caesar could not have wished for a more thorough pro-military environment.

Sep. 01 2011 01:44 PM
Scott from Brooklyn

Also, not all movies the Pentagon denies access to are indie films with an explicitly anti-war message. CRIMSON TIDE, the Denzel Washington/Gene Hackman submarine action-drama, was denied support because it depicted a mutiny aboard a Navy vessel. ("Not realistic" according to the DoD.) It went on to become an enormous four-quadrant hit.

Sep. 01 2011 01:42 PM
Amy from Manhattan

Has advertising research shown that people at the usual age for recruitment are particularly susceptible to the kind of PR that goes into this type of movie? Does anyone really go into the military thinking they're going to be like a superhero?

I was going to ask about CGI next, but you beat me to it, Leonard!

Sep. 01 2011 01:41 PM
Scott from Brooklyn

TRANSFORMERS represented a paradigm shift forward for Pentagon involvement in the movies. Michael Bay had collaborated with DOD before, but with TRANSFORMERS, he got an enormous deal: massive amounts of hardware for free. The Pentagon got what it wanted, too: If you interview the Defense Dept's Hollywood liaison (he's got an office in LA), he'll tell you that the top brass actually PREFER science fiction fantasy movies. Real world situations are far too sticky, politically, and frankly, our current military deployments don't market a career in the armed forces very persuasively. They'd much rather depict military life as a video game. This explains (partially) some of the more nonlinear military segments of the TRANSFORMERS franchise - and also many of the random shots of top-line hardware from big defense contractors like Northrup Grumman and Lockheed Martin.

Sep. 01 2011 01:39 PM
A listener from NYC

The guest portrays Hollywood as the "poor victim" that cannot afford military hardware. And yet James Cameron can create all the world of "Avatar". Filmmakers are not "forced" to make pro-military movies.

Sep. 01 2011 01:37 PM
Jim Byrne #115114

The trend away from the Vietnam-era antiwar, antimilitary popular sentiment in my memory began with Private Benjamin (1980), Stripes (1981) and Officer and a Gentleman (1982), coinciding with Reagan's election.

Sep. 01 2011 01:36 PM

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