A still from the movie “Hulk,” which was changed by the U.S. Marine Corps. | Photo: Creative Commons
The authors stated that a militarized propaganda apparatus operates throughout the movie industry.
The U.S. military rewrites major Hollywood blockbusters if they don’t fit with its pro-war agenda or are damaging to its reputation, new research has revealed.
Tom Secker and Matthew Alford, in their new book, “National Security Cinema: The Shocking New Evidence of Government Control in Hollywood,” scoured through more than 4,000 pages of Pentagon and CIA documents using Freedom of Information requests. Their research reveals the extent to which U.S. intelligence operates within Hollywood — where they were involved in over 800 movies and 1,000 TV shows.
The CIA’s involvement ranges from obvious contenders such as films like “Argo” and “Zero Dark Thirty,” to more surprising media such as “Oprah” and “America’s Got Talent.”
According to Secker and Alford, if a producer or writer asks for access to the military for research, the script must be vetted by the intelligence agency. Producers are asked to sign Production Assistance Agreements that force them to use Pentagon-approved versions of the script.
The book — along with the Department of Defense’s Hollywood database of collaborations that the authors also released — reports that a number of movies, including James Bond, the Transformers franchise, and movies from the Marvel and DC cinematic universes, have been modified or otherwise influenced by the U.S. military.
The 2003 film “Hulk” saw “radical” changes made by the Marine Corps. One of the biggest modifications included changing the name of an operation that captured Hulk, “Ranch Hand,” which wasn’t allowed because it was the real name for the United States’ destruction of Vietnam with pesticides and poison.
The movie, “Top Gun,” however, was approved with no changes given that “it clearly portrayed the navy in a very positive light,” the DOD said, adding that it “completed rehabilitation the military’s image, which had been savaged by the Vietnam War.”
U.S. intelligence’s influence in Hollywood has been documented before, for the first time in 2005 where it was only suspected that the Pentagon had worked on less than 600 films and only a handful of television shows.
Last year, two books were also published detailing more revelations, but they “missed or underplayed important cases,” according to Secker and Alford.
“In all, we are looking at a vast, militarized propaganda apparatus operating throughout the screen entertainment industry in the United States,” the authors stated in a recent piece on Medium. “In societies already eager to use our hard power overseas, the shaping of our popular culture to promote a pro-war mindset must be taken seriously.”