“The Pentagon’s grip on Hollywood” (updated 10 July)

 From Al Jazeera‘s ‘Listening Post’ programme, hosted by Richard Gizbert:

The military entertainment complex is an old phenomenon that binds Hollywood with the US military. Known as militainment, it serves both parties well. Filmmakers get access to high tech weaponry – helicopters, jet planes and air craft carriers while the Pentagon gets free and positive publicity.

The latest offering to come from this relationship is Act of Valor and it takes the collaboration one step further. The producers get more than just equipment — they have cast active-duty military personnel in the lead roles, prompting critics to say the lines have become so blurred that it is hard to see where Hollywood ends and Pentagon propaganda begins. In this week’s feature, the Listening Post’s Nic Muirhead looks at the ties between the US military and Hollywood.


This is not just a step “going a little bit beyond propaganda”, as one of the commentators said in the video, but one that reveals a symbiotic relationship between Hollywood and the U.S. regime. One that is about active collaboration between a state’s military establishment and civilian film industry – a collaboration that has been advanced far beyond the days of the Cold War, which had its fair share of propaganda films emanating from Hollywood-Pentagon collaboration.

In fact, after the events of September 11, 2001, George W. Bush’s advisor Karl Rove “met with Hollywood executives to consider how the motion picture industry might contribute to the War on Terror” and that “leading Hollywood figures…pledged their support and reaffirmed the significance of what James Der Derian had called the military-industrial-media-entertainment complex” (Klaus Dodds, Geography Compass, Vol. 2, Issue 2, 2008, 481-82).

Or, we can just call it ‘militainment’.

Addendum, 10 July:
On a related noted, a post in New Mandala had this to say:

The army has long been part of the daily life in Thailand. It is indisputable that the main responsibilities of the Thai army stretch far beyond protecting sovereignty and national security to include functions such as natural disaster relief, internal security and animal rescue. While fewer young, educated people join the army today than in the past, being in the army still carries significant prestige among Thais. In fact, the notion that the presence of the army – or its militant culture – has penetrated Thai society in a variety of ways is truer than many would like to admit. Those following Thailand’s entertainment industry would know that the actor who plays King Naresuan in one of Thailand’s most popular (and most expensive) epics – The Legend of King Naresuan – is himself a lieutenant colonel. Scores of contemporary Thai lakorn and movies, such as Wanida, Legend of Suriyothai, Sam Pan Boke, Cha-leu Sak, just to name a few, continue to romanticize men in uniform.

There’s also quite a lively debate on the Thai military in the comments that has expanded to other areas.  Read the whole thing here.


One thought on ““The Pentagon’s grip on Hollywood” (updated 10 July)

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