Why Hollywood War Propaganda Like 'American Sniper' Is So Effective

By Carey Wedler / theantimedia.org
Jan 27, 2015
1
Why Hollywood War Propaganda Like 'American Sniper' Is So Effective

Following the release of Clint Eastwood’s American Sniper,the masses of America have been chomping at the bit to slaughter Muslims. The film, which portrays the deadliest sniper in United States history, is a hit among the sect of Americans that tends to demonize Hollywood for being too liberal and anti-American.

But is that claim actually true? Hollywood churns out war films and pro-government propaganda at a rate Josef Goebbels would applaud. The propaganda is so effective that anyone who criticizes the most recent glorification of the war machine is labeled an American-hating, Muslim-loving pussy. But this is not a new trend. ArgoZero Dark Thirty andHomeland are just a few of the relatively recent films and television shows intent on building up America’s interventionist, militaristic foreign policy. Other shows and movies glorify the FBI and police.

But why is the propaganda so effective? It helps that for decades mainstream news has been fear-mongering against Muslims and blowing the trumpets of war. The government, its politicians and agencies have played up the risks of terrorist attacks, though they are often plotted by the government.

Hollywood propaganda, then, merely has to slip in cultural, entertainment versions of these already implanted beliefs. Rather than instilling mass opinions about government and war, Hollywood reinforces them in a relatable way. One of the reasons it is so effective at this, however, is that it has the full support of the American government.

The documentary, Hollywood and the Pentagon: A Dangerous Liaison, exposes the close working relationship of Hollywood and the Pentagon. If Hollywood studios and filmmakers want to use the military’s equipment to portray war stories, they must let the government review and modify their scripts.

This “collaboration” led to the wild success of Tom Cruise’s Top Gun in the ‘80s, which inspired a huge spike in Air Force enlistments. In this case, it wasn’t that Americans hated the Air Force and Hollywood changed their minds. Rather, Hollywood romanticized the job and therefore inspired people to “care” more. This is how films like American Sniper rouse “patriotic” sentiments that drive people to shamelessly advocate mass murder. No doubt, this latest installment of war propaganda was reviewed by military officials before it was filmed and released.

By holding state-of-the art props above a filmmaker and studio’s head, the Pentagon corners them into complying. No filmmakers wants to settle for unrealistic or sub-par equipment and rather, are lured by the shiny toys of the Pentagon. Given the fact that the government has a direct channel to the masses with final say in what a military script says, it is obvious why Americans are so successfully affected by the propaganda.

It also helps that the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA)the essential lobby of conglomerated studios headed by former Senator Chris Doddcontributes millions to Congress in favor of internet censorship. It therefore has a vested interest in supporting the state and is known forapproving desensitizing, vulgar violence (often government-inflicted) while censoring sex.

In spite of the pervasiveness of Hollywood propaganda, however, there are signs of hope. If Hollywood films are reflections of sentiments that are already harbored, there is a large representation of opposition to mindless war and government propaganda. Take Minority Report, the Bourne Identity,the Matrix, V for Vendetta and the recent, huge success of The Hunger Games.

For every conditioned mind that adheres to the state, there is another that identifies with anti-authoritarian films such as these–all of which were massive box office successes.

House of Cards and Orange is the New Black, both hit Netflix original television series, openly portray the corruption, incompetency, and cruelty of the state.This reflects not only trends in creative expression, but a growing appetite for representation of these views. The rise of independent production companies and the Internet has limitlessly expanded the ability of artists to make anti-authoritarian cinema perhaps even some that can change minds.

Then again, a romantic film about how Michelle and Barack Obama met in Chicago is going into production this year, so we might all be doomed.

Trending Videos
Unseen Tears (2009)
29 min - Native American families in Western New York continue to feel the impact of the Thomas Indian School and the Mohawk Institute. Survivors speak of traumatic separation from their families, abuse...
Should We Move To A 4-Day Work Week?
13 min - Our mindset surrounding work is stuck in the 20th century. With massive improvements in technology and productivity in the last few decades, it's time to reassess what work could look like. Is it...
How To Deal With Hatred | Zander Keig
6 min - "I first came out as a lesbian when I was 13. When I was 18, I went to my first gay pride parade. It was an incredible experience, witnessing the joy of people being themselves. That was in 1984...
Born Sexy Yesterday: A Hollywood Movie Trope That Maybe Needs to Die
18 min - "This video essay is about a gendered trope that has bothered me for years but didn’t have a name, so I gave it one: Born Sexy Yesterday. It's a science fiction convention in which the mind of a...
Cancel The Apocalypse: Here are 30 Films to Help Unlock the Good Ending
Imperialism
Films about Localization - the Solution to Globalization and Destructive, Infinite-Growth Economics
Recommended

Films For Action hosts a subscription service that currently offers 55 highly-curated, solutions-oriented films to Patron subscribers donating $5 per month. 

Subscribe here. Your support helps grow our 5000+ video library, which is 99% free and contains no ads thanks to our patrons.

Cancel any time via your settings page.

 

How to Use and Contribute to this Library

  • Use the Explore menu to filter content by type and topic. Selections stack, so you can view Film Types about Specific Topics.

  • Submit videos directly to our library! Just sign up and click +Add Video at the top of the site and paste the video URL to get started. 

  • Create an account to save videos and articles for later and rate content for others

  • Filmmakers: Interested in our TVOD or SVOD services? Films For Action is one of the best homes for paradigm-shifting documentaries.

  • Contact us if you have a site or film suggestion, question, want to volunteer, or you're a filmmaker looking to collaborate. 

    Let's be the media!