In the world’s biggest program of social engineering the Pentagon teamed up with Hollywood and with the TeeVee industry to sell us violence. The tradition of social engineering goes back to the father of consumer propaganda: Edward Bernays, twice (on his mother’s and his father’s side) nephew of Sigmund Freud, (also a master of social engineering to whom Bernays often paid tribute). Bernays, who published a book titled Propaganda, parlaying what he learned from the 1914 war effort, developed what he called the “engineering of consent.” His view of “democracy” is paradoxical to say the least:
“The conscious and intelligent manipulation of the organized habits and opinions of the masses is an important element in democratic society. Those who manipulate this unseen mechanism of society constitute and invisible government which is the true ruling power of our country. We are governed, our minds are molded, our tastes formed, and our ideas suggested, largely by men we have never heard of….It is they who pull the wires that control the public mind.” And Bernays was certainly one of them, in the civilian world, the first of many. His first assignment—by Big Tobacco which hired him—was to introduce American women to smoking (and lung cancer). On the tail of his big success (he got socialite suffragettes to smoke up a storm as they marched down Fifth Avenue demanding the vote) the U.S. Army hired him.
Fast forward to today’s militarized, gun-happy, armed-to-the-teeth U.S.A. The American public likes to believe it’s not being manipulated in any way, but a recent FOIA request disclosed that at least 800 feature films received support from the Department of Defense, including such violent blockbuster franchises as “Iron Man,” “Transformers,” and “The Terminator.” Such films as “The Recruit” and “Zero Dark Thirty” were influenced by government officials to show heightened and inflated real world threats while downplaying government malfeasance.
In a symbiotic relationship with the entertainment industry, the Pentagon gets to re-write history, whitewash the military, and beef up recruitment figures. The entertainment industry gets access to free shoots, military hardware, personnel, and locations. For example, the 2013 “Captain Phillips” was able to use a U.S. military guided missile destroyer, an amphibious assault ship, several helicopters, and members of SEAL Team Six, courtesy of the U.S. Navy who worked the shoot into their training.
With Pentagon affiliation, production benefits from additional perks: often it is able to avoid Screen Actors Guild’s daily minimums, and having to pay residuals. But here, as everywhere, the rule of no free lunch applies: Pentagon (and CIA) vetted scripts have to be re-written according to government dictates, their meanings doctored, their images altered, and sometimes, the project is cancelled altogether because it fails to meet military standards.
No where in the credits does the public ever see the name of Phil Strub, the go-to liaison man operating in Hollywood on behalf of the Pentagon, a man with the power to demand re-writes, alterations, and deletions of material not in keeping with the image the military likes to project. Films are denied Pentagon support if in Strub’s view they show the military in a negative light, which might include films with scenes relating to murder, torture, extracting gold teeth as war booty, or drug use, such as “Platoon,” Apocalypse Now,” Zero Dark Thirty,” and “Argo,” none of which received Pentagon support. More than 1,100 Television titles have had their content brought into line while benefitting from Pentagon backing, from “Army Wives,” to “Flight 93” to “Ice Road Truckers” in exchange for the industry’s providing glamor to D.C.’s political class.
More often than not, Hollywood is happy to play ball with Strub because his approval means a huge break in a film production’s budget. The budgetary difference between a film that benefits from Pentagon largesse in exchange for censorship, can be as much as $50 million dollars, a difference that can make or break box office. And, although Strub denies it, there is a correlation between a Pentagon-approved hit war movie and increased recruitment figures, a key consideration in the absence of a military draft. Not only has the Pentagon established liaison with the industry but since 1947, the CIA has also gotten into the game, “assisting” in some 60 film and television shows.
The entertainment industry is one arm of a heavily propagandized, increasingly violent society, and with its access to the malleable minds of millions, its influence in molding mindset may very well outweigh that of the media as evidenced by such recent events as the Charlottesville murder of Heather Heyer, the playground attempted lynching of a 8-year old boy by juveniles, the stomping to death and shootings of unarmed homeless men, the ascendance to the lands’ highest office of a White supremacist (who caught the public eye through professional wrestling), the abrogation of habeas corpus and posse comitatus (see the September 10 newsletter) the militarization of law enforcement nationwide, the private security Black Swan war against the water protectors at Standing Rock, the impunity manifested by such agencies as ICE and the border patrol, and the hew and cry for war against Russia and North Korea by its media arm.
A society is what it watches. A society that ingests militarism and violence along with its popcorn does so at its peril.
Tom Secker and Matthew Alford: National Security Cinema: The Shocking New Evidence of Government Control in Hollywood
David L. Robb: Operation Hollywood
Watch The Century of the Self, Adam Curtis’ documentary describing the social engineering work of Bernays and the Freuds.
Note: Next Newsletter, “Chelsea Manning,” will appear October 1.
For peace of mind, boycott Hollywood film.
Some Roses Amongst the Week’s Thorns
California clean money Act AB 249 passes in bipartisan vote of 59-15 on its way to the governor’s desk.
California passes Sanctuary State bill forbidding state and local law enforcement from providing information to or acting as the deputies for federal immigration authorities.
Last Friday, Homeland Security adviser Tom Bossert told reporters that the White House might put out another executive order or additional guidance in the next month. “We shouldn’t use federal money to rebuild in ways that don’t anticipate future flood risk,” Bossert said. “So we need to build back smarter and stronger against flood plain concerns when we use federal dollars.”
The Senate Appropriation Committee voted on Thursday to reinstate funding for the United Nations Population Fund and overturn the abortion gag rule, which bans funding for international organizations that provide (or even discuss) abortion care. The move goes against , which reinstated the gag rule during his first few days in office. Foreign Policy :
Department of Homeland Security (DHS) cancels what would have ben the largest roundup in ICE history.