Militainment: U.S. Military Propaganda in the News Media, Hollywood, and Video Games
June 13, 2010
Maximilian Forte -
“Propaganda is at its most effective when the audience does not know it is being manipulated and one of the best, glitziest examples of that is when propaganda is delivered on the big screen in the guise of a Hollywood blockbuster.”–The Listening Post, 12 June 2010
Al Jazeera’s The Listening Post had an excellent review and overview today of the nature and extent of militainment (resources for this follow below). In particular, The Listening Post described how various branches of the American armed services–the U.S. Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps, Coast Guard–and the Department of Defense itself have each established a beach-head in Hollywood. The Pentagon has liaison officers stationed in Los Angeles, precisely for the purpose of working with Hollywood, and indeed, one of these officers has since left and joined Al Jazeera, and is interviewed in this report. In return for Pentagon consultants, and even actual troops performing stunts and carrying out action scenes in select films (such as Blackhawk Down), as well as the provision of U.S. military equipment, Hollywood filmmakers submit their scripts to the Pentagon for review and approval. The result is a “slickly produced feature length advertisement” for the U.S. military. Where news media are concerned, the Listening Post provides a quick review of what has already been documented and established, concerning the practice under Rumsfeld’s Pentagon of preparing retired generals to go out and serve as “expert military analysts” in order to talk up the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Entities such as NBC/CNBC/MSNBC are owned by GE, a major defense contractor. Meanwhile, the video game industry, which exceeds Hollywood in profits, has been a major output of militarized culture, with some games meant to serve as intentional recruitment tools, while actual war itself is being rendered into a video game (such as the flying of drone strikes). Other examples of the wide reach of political-economic militarization throughout American culture was covered in this previous essay here: “100 percent (Militarized) American” (note the Pentagon Lt. Col. who then appeared to slam the essay in the comments section).
Interestingly, the Listening Post makes the comment, “Ladies love a man in uniform,” when referring to a Ukrainian military recruitment video–which brings to mind the Human Terrain System’s own Montgomery McFate and her blog, titled precisely “I Luv a Man in a Uniform” now back online to serve the same propaganda functions of sexually idolizing military men. As for the contract between the media and the military, with reference to HTS, we saw this again recently on this site, twice, in “Video Propaganda: Human Terrain System on National Geographic,” and in, “Human Terrain System in Afghanistan.”
Video: Video Documentaries and News Reports on Militainment:
- Al Jazeera, The Listening Post: The Military and the Media
- Militainment, Inc: Full 2-hour documentary
- Operation Hollywood: on CBC’s The Passionate Eye (full-length, 57 mins)
Audio: America’s Army’ Blurs Virtual War, ‘Militainment’, NPR, 02 March 2010
- Militainment, Inc.: War, Media, and Popular Culture - By Roger Stahl
- A century of media, a century of war - By Robin Andersen
- Operation Hollywood: how the Pentagon shapes and censors the movies - By David L. Robb
Analysis and News online–a short list:
- “‘America’s Army’ Blurs Virtual War, ‘Militainment’,” NPR, 02 March 2010.
- “Calling the shots on war movies: The Army, scathed by ‘the crazy Nam vet,’ tries to shape a new era of films by trading access for influence,” by Julian E. Barnes, The Los Angeles Times, 07 July 2008.
- “Hollywood’s dirty little secret,” The Age, 20 February 2005.
- “Mediawatch: That’s Militainment!” by James Poniewozik and Jess Cagle/Los Angeles, TIME, 04 March, 2002.
- “Meet the Sims … and Shoot Them–The rise of militainment,” by P. W. Singer, Foreign Policy, March/April 2010.
- “That’s Militainment! The Pentagon’s media-friendly ‘reality’ war,” by Robin Andersen, Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting, May/June 2003.
- “Operation Hollywood: How the Pentagon bullies movie producers into showing the U.S. military in the best possible light,” by Jeff Fleischer, Mother Jones, 20 September 2004.
- “Nick Turse, The Pentagon Goes Hollywood,” by Tom Engelhardt, Tom Dispatch, 20 March 2008.
- “Pentagon Working to Influence Future Movies about Iraq,” PR Watch.
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