Hollywood and the War Machine

2010 ,    »  -   39 Comments
Ratings: 8.56/10 from 32 users.

Hollywood and the War MachineEmpire examines the symbiotic relationship between the movie industry and the military-industrial complex.

War is hell, but for Hollywood it has been a Godsend, providing the perfect dramatic setting against which courageous heroes win the hearts and minds of the movie going public.

The Pentagon recognizes the power of these celluloid dreams and encourages Hollywood to create heroic myths; to rewrite history to suit its own strategy and as a recruiting tool to provide a steady flow of willing young patriots for its wars.

What does Hollywood get out of this 'deal with the devil'? Access to billions of dollars worth of military kit, from helicopters to aircraft carriers, enabling filmmakers to make bigger and more spectacular battle scenes, which in turn generate more box office revenue. Providing they accept the Pentagon's advice, even toe the party line and show the US military in a positive light.

So is it a case of art imitating life, or a sinister force using art to influence life and death - and the public perception of both? Empire will examine Hollywood, the Pentagon, and war.

Joining us as guests: Oliver Stone, the eight times Academy Award-winning filmmaker; Michael Moore, the Academy Award-winning filmmaker; and Christopher Hedges, an author and the former Middle East bureau chief of the New York Times.

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39 Comments / User Reviews

  1. idragon

    good one. I am starting to like aljeizera docs, most of them are quite well, with little to no proganda, for now at least.

  2. Guest

    IMPRESSIVE. This is the only thing I ever seen from aljazeera. I will be watching for more.

    P.S. Vlatko, the system would not let me use the same display name. It says there is an account already under that name. It also said my email was already in use? I don't remember ever having an account with disqus though. I set up a new email account and chose a new name cause it was the only way I could get on. Sorry if it causes issues. I would be glad to remain Waldo if you know how to work that out.

  3. Vlatko

    Contact me through email and we'll resolve it.

  4. mmjvnt

    good job Vlatko. Michael Moore always tells it like it is Thank you for bringing the truth to us.

  5. Guest

    Great job vlatko nice upgrade to the sight. This doc got me thinking while I was watching it. I wonder what new libya war movie we are going to get? I dont think the world can pass up this chance to surround more of the worlds/"europe,china" oil supply with troops and sell that oil in dollars so the libyan's can have money/"hint our money" to rebuild their nation. Sounds like that would make a great hollywood movie. But if you read your wikileaks our good free information friends post daily you may ask yourself did moh mar really give up all his heu to the russian so he could playball in the world stage and the required public apologie from the top us offical "president or sec state". Well he got the apologie alright and the russian's got the heu goop on their second trip to pick it up after moh mah got his required apologie. Maybe we can take faith in our trust that moh mar can be trusted to give up all his heu goop? Its not like this rich libyian sultan moh mah would ever think about blowing up anything in some twisted jihad marytr crap. And everyone knows no goverments would stage/allow anything of that sort to happen for their just cause. Yup no matter how this plays out the movie is going to be a Blockbuster.

  6. NAND Gate

    Al Jazeera has really come of age

  7. Guest

    Movies are the most influencial form of media. People watch the news in newspaper, tv, radio but it soon gets replace with tomorrow's event, it is almost as if no one really cares. But sit them in front of a big screen for 1 1/2hr of action pack story and they are likely to believe what they see as reality and the story sticks with them for years after.
    If you want to know what is about to come out in science, fashion, gadgets, go see the latest movies because many new ideas come out in movies as vision of the future. The guys at the top of movies no doubts have access to the guys at the top of anything immerging. Just an exemple look at Avatar....you think it's far fetched...wait a few years a form of that (man's mind being implemented into an avatar probably a computerized one) will be happening.

    @Vlatko...one drawback to the new system...people will continue to write comments but i find that the flow of exchange between participants has been altered, having to change page brakes the flow although this will definitely cut on the arguments and name calling that were getting quite popular before....i am sure some adjustments will be done, so i will just wait and see.

  8. Vlatko

    Well... we'll see @az. Lots of things changed. I think It's a matter of getting used to it.

  9. Guest

    Well well...it's not stopping me. ...and i do like the editing possibility!

  10. over the edge

    good doc

  11. Ira

    Reminds of an article by Lt Colonel Ralph Peters in 'Parameters', the US Army War College Quarterly, praising Hollywood as a psychological warefare tool!

    Here's choice quote:

    "It remains difficult, of course, for military leaders to conceive of warfare, informational or otherwise, in such broad terms. But Hollywood is "preparing the battlefield," and burgers precede bullets. The flag follows trade. Despite our declaration of defeat in the face of battlefield victory in Mogadishu, the image of US power and the US military around the world is not only a deterrent, but a psychological warfare tool that is constantly at work in the minds of real or potential opponents."

  12. Jonathan Thomas Maingot


    Torture eh?

  13. HuPhlungPu

    May I retort your claim of little propaganda? Though cleverly done in this doc, it does exist. Look again at the framing of certain questions asked by the host. One example is a quick though noticeable reference to WORSHIP of certain aspects of war and cinema. Oliver Stone at one point is clearly video edited with emphasis on the word worship. This doc is, for the most part, fairly accurate as to the imperialistic tendencies of the American state but of course skewed toward an intended audience with specific persuasions. Nothing is without bias of some sort. Sorry if I am myself a bit bias against the push for or propagation of religious ideologies. Watch it again and you will certainly see the underlying religious intent.

  14. GodmanEnki

    Through the use of Movies, heros have been manufactured like John Wayne or Ronald Reagan, when in fact, John Wayne was a draft-dogger, a coward, and a phony. And Reagan was a puppet who also "followed orders," and did what he was told; such-as making the Vatican into a complete-separate state! The problem with "the movies" is, TPTB are in control of what we see, and do not "see." They manipulate public-opinion. That way, REAL "truth" is seldom seen. "War is Hell." Never a truer statement was ever made. Yet is seems too many people don't understand WHAT "Hell" is really like. Even though we have these "descriptions" in the Bible, who really gets-it? Who, as Obama said, truly reads their Bible's anyway? Even the guilty do not "belong" there. Even if, the STORY of 9/11 we have been told were true, the INNOCENT men, women, and children, classified as so-called "colateral-damage," are all dying needlessly! The ENTIRE country, is not "at fault." And Afganistan wasn't "part of the seal" in the first place. WHO "gets it" next after Afganistan? IRAN! And the only "mission accomplished," was the end of Media-coverage in Iraq. The war continues to this day. Women and little children are terrorized everyday by allied troops. Which includes US! Occupation may indeed, never end. And until something happens to change it, the slaughter, abuse, mayhem, rape, murder, torture, theft, lies, corporate-profit, and deceit, will never be over. Movies are used by TPTB to manipulate human perception.For what is at present, as well as preparation for things that are to come in the future.

  15. Sieben Stern

    i didn't understand why micheal moore preferred 'green zone' over 'hurt locker' - the latter was riveting and emotional, while the former was just a 'no wmd's' drumbeat + mat damon. felt a little, lock the barn after the horse escapes... IMHO.

    if he couldn't get the profound statement of what war does to people with william standing in the grocery store, picking cereal when his tour was over and he was back in the states, then i don't know how much more he expects.

    the docu, however was really good. i didn't know what to expect from al jazeera, but that was thought provoking, especially during the interview and Hedges spoke about the illusion of empire.

  16. Lary9

    I already have a DISQUS account. So how do I get my Lary Nine from TDF merged with my previous DISQUS archival stream?

  17. Vlatko

    I think you've done it.

  18. Chih Seng Simon Ho

    i am glad i was once part of us propaganda machine

  19. Imightberiding

    I clearly recall visiting the U.S. while "Top Gun" was showing in theatres back in '86. At the time, I was shocked & appalled by the military's blatant manipulation of young, misinformed, testosterone fueled kids leaving the movie while all pumped up & having to pass a recruiting desk on their way out. Years later & a little more learned along the way, you might say I'm less of an idealist & tad bit more a cynic.

    I've always wondered just how connected the U.S. military & Hollywood are. Thanks for this interesting doc.

    Just one more thing: I've also always wondered if Oliver Stone affects his "look/appearance" with a healthy dose of ironic attitude or if he really does believe his porno mustache & neck chain are even remotely fashionable let alone appropriate for a film maker in the early 21st century? Just wondering ... he! he! he!

  20. Joseph Carl Ruger

    Great interview, thanks for this Vlatko!

  21. MrGrieves

    Wow. Michael Moore completely misses the point of Hurt Locker. Disappointing.
    The Iraqi's in the film were portrayed without humanity because thats how the main characters of the movie regarded them. The film was shot not through their eyes, but unquestionably through their perspective. Iraqi's in the film were portrayed almost solely as suspicious characters because thats how your average American soldier is mandated to view them.
    Its easy to criticize the theme of bomb diffusing as some exploitive use of a cliche suspense generator, but the job the main character performed in the Hurt Locker is a job real live soldiers are asked to perform daily, and when they're asked to choose between that red and blue wire, I wager they're more concerned with whether they'll be alive in 30 seconds then they are with what a cliche it is.
    By the end of the film the protagonist is rendered a minor Monster, humanity completely lost to him. His family, his country, the welfare of the Iraqi people, the American way of life he's supposedly fighting to protect; he doesn't believe in any of it anymore. He is made empty, and his only respite is the cheap thrill of walking on the edge of death, and the uncertain hope that he fall over and find that permanent relief.
    In this interview they seem to tear the movie up because its not about what they wanted it to be about. I.E it doesn't portray the American Military as the Bad Guys, come to do bad things... nor does it portray the Iraqi people as innocents being crushed under cowboy boots. The thing is, Hurt Locker was never meant to be a film about 'The War'. Its a film about one man's long walk into Moral, and inevitably actual Oblivion... and the fact that many other men and women are being set on that same path.
    On a side note, -more- people are seen being killed/fatally wounded in the film Greenzone than in the Hurt Locker.

  22. James del Valle

    what would you prefer that the USA was weak, this is nonsense this video, of course the US Military arent going to fund something which portrays things which they don't actually want soldiers to do, they are paying the money to fund the film so why would they not want it done in a good way.
    This movie completely forgets about the evils which have been did by Saddam Hussein and other dictators across the world. The USA is a freedom fighter even if it doesn't suit you, they have saved Muslims in Bosnia and in Kosovo was anyone complaining then. People pick and choose what they like but when something trully important is done for the security of America all of a sudden they become evil dictators. What a load of garbage this is, the pentagon is a church and the soldiers are the priests, since when was the US Military christian. This is propoganda to make the USA out to be crusaders, the left winger Muslim sympaphisers in this movie are just being played into promoting propoganda. This should be banned simple as.

  23. AnalogousGumdropDecoder

    Some, possibly most, left wingers do know the barbarity of "the Arabs" (implying ALL Arabs, are we?). Do the right wingers know the true barbarity of themselves?

  24. Bjurne

    I get scared when i read things like this. If you please would stop for a second and ask yourself "how come my oppinions are exactly the same as those of the media? is it that the tv agrees with me, or the other way around?"

    For a starter, US got Saddam into his possition of power, and provided him with all the equipment he neded to be a hard ruler. He was a hero, then he was the garbage man, and then he got hard to controll and was taken out. You didnt see that on the news, did you?

  25. Abjective

    Imagine that. The Pentagon doing deals with Hollywood. Making war films while they're still occupying Iraq. Thats quite a distgurbing thought. And the horror of real war is terifying. And we get to watch these Hollywood made films through our screens and laptops. The picture that they also try to paint is a little different to reality. At least you can hear the truth by these credible film makers and journalists. America has a hunger for war and world domination and the only way they know how is through violence.

  26. James del Valle

    The US didn't give saddam Hussein his weapons that is a myth, he got them from Russia that why he had Russian tanks and guns. Dohh the media say something crazy and people believe them, the media also doesn't report on the attrocities which Islam carries out in Sudan and other countries in Africa. They just report them as civil wars but they are as a result of the teaching of the Koran, they don't report on the persecution of christians and other religions in Islamic countries either. This religious cleansing has also occurred in Kosovo and is ongoing. Islam must have a lot of influence in media circles or people are just too scared to report these incidents as they are.

  27. James del Valle

    so you have just admitted you are one of the losers who support Hezbolla and hamas without having the first idea that they actually originated from the right wing movement of Nazi Germany. Do you not find it odd that they carry out the same brainwashing of children and even profess their love for Hitler. You lot are crazy fools.

  28. James del Valle

    If the USA wanted world domination then why havn't they used their full military power, if they had did so in the same manner in which the Nazi's did, which you are implying they are they would have destroyed the arab world by now. You are getting confused, the USA seeks military strength in order to defend itself and other oppressed countries which they have did time and again, may'be sometimes they should have kept their noses out but they are not trying to conquer any countries at all and never have did so. If they had that view they would probably be getting on a whole lot better. They could have created their own image as a capitalist soviet union but they havn't. They don't get the oil from Iraq either, maybe they thought it a good idea to make the oil available but they havnt stolen it.

  29. James Whitehead

    "If the USA wanted world domination then why havn't they used their full military power, if they had did so in the same manner in which the Nazi's did, which you are implying they are they would have destroyed the arab world by now."

    Its all in the timing!

  30. Jonny Twee

    They want world domination without it seeming like they have done anything wrong. There are many people involved in making this work, and they aren't about to go out and make rash decisios causing WW3. The Federal Reserves owns the USA, it owns you, it owns me, and everyone else for that matter. Do some unbiased research and open your mind to the possibilities

  31. Jonny Twee

    And what the hell is this DISQUS login crap? DISQUS was a bad idea for this site, the chat system was already established.

  32. opiumblogger

    The US doesn't want world domination, meaning the Obama administration doesn't want it. Furthermore, the Military-Industrial Complex doesn't want to win the war because there's no money in winning wars these days. The big money is in keeping the country in a constant of war, inflating the defense budget, committing troops overseas, building more weapons, and hiring contractors like Blackwater and Haliburton.

  33. Adam Young

    Problem- you want control of the distribution of oil, how do you do it ?
    Solution- you destabilize a structure in secret and then you step up publicly with the answer, looking like a hero. of course there are many perks such as using US contractors to restabilize the structure, giving you a legitimate economic footing in that country. it's not rocket science. this has been the main motivation behind the US getting involved in other conflicts in the modern era, wars cost money so simply sending 50,000 troops into a conflict on the grounds of good vs evil is not profitable, even in ww2 the yanks helped rebuild japan, you didn't think they did so because they were sorry about dropping the bomb did you ? the banks control the military and capital hill, parliement is alot of smoke and mirrors to convince the cattle they have a say or to disorientate and confuse them, distract them away from an issue.

  34. zaphodity

    Americans can't tell where the movie ends and reality begins.

  35. kompikos

    Loved this show

  36. Max

    every culture pedestalizes war. from beowulf to henry the V, the japanese samurai, the old testament, koran, and bhagavad gita. the warrior is a mythical and honored person. hollywood is just the american version.

  37. Max

    sounds like humans from every country i have been to

  38. Edward Campbell

    Exactly the backstory line of George Orwell's '1984.

  39. John Doherty

    "No real war footage" !!! where are the images of beheadings, etc that alJezerah popularised when no other channel would broadcast them. It's as well Jesus Christ wasn't a director of film. Of at least 10 or so films quoted, only TWO directors on screen. Hardly balanced broadcasting. Of course Kathryn Bigalow is a woman, that'll let her out. But great use of the 1st Amendment.

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