Sunday, February 20, 2005

The latest media conspiracy 

Shhhh, we'll let you in on a secret. I bet you haven't heard about "the powerful relationship that has grown over the years between the Pentagon and the Hollywood studios, a partnership that not only can save millions of dollars for filmmakers and produce fine recruiting propaganda for Washington, but can twist history and reality to produce the ultimate in international spin"? This from the Melbourne "Age" piece by Brian Courtis, plugging Emilio Pacull's documentary "Operation Hollywood" about the work of a crusading journalist Dave Robb to unmask the nightmarish military/entertainment complex that President Eisenhower warned us about.

You see, when producers are putting together war films, they will often want assistance from Pentagon to provide "ships, tanks, materiel, information, bases, access to land, troops and some very real-looking fireworks" to make their movies look authentic. In exchange for this sort of logistical support Pentagon can censor scripts. "For Hollywood, acceptance of this system means the difference between 'full co-operation' and no co-operation. For the military, it involves maintaining an idealised image of the forces, their behaviour, their view of the world, the superiority of their form of patriotism, and for that matter, their reasons for going to war."

"So why, they would argue, should the Pentagon spend its money on pacifism or promoting the darker side of the soldier's world?" Unfortunately, Courtis fails to provide the answer. Why indeed? Why the hell should Pentagon be somehow obliged to provide assistance to movie-makers who want to portray the military as homicidal maniac, degenerates, psychopaths and criminals? To fully grasp the moronic nature of this complaint imagine me making a movie that portrays journalists and documentary makers as hypocrites, perverts, thieves and traitors. How much assistance would you think I would receive from the "Age" and Pacull's production company? There's your answer.

It gets worse, though:
"The long-term effect on generations of young Americans is an unknown. 'How many of those killed in Iraq died because they joined up after they saw what was presented in a film?' [asks Robb] How many have died as the result of unknown recruiting propaganda?"
Which ones, for God's sake? "Platoon"? "Full Metal Jacket"? "Apocalypse Now"? The only mainstream movie to come out of the first Gulf War, "The Three Kings"? God no, we mean "gung-ho films" (I kid you not) like "The Longest Day" or "Pearl Harbor". Because even when the American soldiers are fighting against goddamned Nazis and Japanese imperialists they should still be portrayed as the bad guys. Jesus wept.

As the old saying goes, good people sleep peaceably in their beds at night only because rough men stand ready to do violence on their behalf. Memo to Courtis, Pacull and Robb: piss off and go sleep somewhere else.

By the way, "Operation Hollywood" is being screened on Tuesday night by Australia's second public broadcaster. My taxpayer's money at work, again.


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