Global Now / Week 4

Hollywood and the Pentagon

Rowan Smith-Spanier

Global Issues in Design Section: Cope

Abstract Headline:Hollywood and the war machine 9/21/2012 Source: Al Jazeera website

Since 1945, America has existed undisputedly as the worlds more formidable military force.  War is engrained in our culture and is often used as a source of entertainment and a celebration of our power from a young age in video games, tv shows and most prominently in movies.  A recent article and video from Al Jazeera explores the troubling symbiotic relationship between hollywood and the pentagon both from a foreign perspective, from the U.S. Department of Defense Phil Strub and also from director/vietnam veteran Oliver Stone among others.  The staggering success of films as a form of propaganda to garner support for world War I and II solidified it’s implementation and initiated the Film Liaison Unit at the pentagon which is in charge of managing the militaries image and how they are perceived by Americans and by the world.  This became increasingly difficult to manage during the Vietnam War and films that offered a critique of the military role such as Apocalypse Now, Platoon and Full Metal Jacket were all denied by this bureau.  This meant they were denied access to Military equipment – bought with tax payers dollars – while movies which portrayed the military as a benevolent, heroic force such as Top Gun received full support and free access to this expensive and exclusive military equipment.  The price: the pentagon had creative input in editing the film and even the script.  Top Gun was such a success in it’s patriotic depiction of the army that recruiting booths were actually set up outside the theater in the lobby.  The recent movie Hurt Locker was also denied approval and had to not drastically compromising the message of the film and instead invest large amounts of money to retain their freedom of speech.  As discussed in the lecture, cynicism and doubt are essential even when participating in what is considered entertainment, subliminal messages are extremely powerful and we have to consider what we are being shown and by whom and for what reason.


Global Issue: Military control over global perceptions

Primary Design Lens: Propaganda the design of control

Secondary Design Lens: Violence as entertainment


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