Posted 9 months ago on July 31, 2012, 3 p.m. EST by gnomunny
from St Louis, MO
This content is user submitted and not an official statement
I was going to spend an inordinate amount of time in this post critiquing a single Hollywood film, last year's Battle: Los Angeles and how it plays much better as a Marine recruitment vehicle than as your typical sci-fi invasion flick, but while trying to locate a website I saw in a screenshot, I realized the problem is much more pervasive than just the occasional propaganda piece.
This isn't an indictment of the military, Hollywood, or the games industry, nor the collaboration between the three. It's about the increasing trend toward the militarization of Western society for the express purpose of social conditioning. Many of us think we know what's going on, and, quite frankly, as an individual, I'm torn between what's right from a humanitarian standpoint and what is necessary for sheer survival. I fear they're not the same thing.
The relationship between Hollywood and the military is nothing new; it probably dates back to Wellman's 1927 classic, Wings, starring the 'It' girl of the Roaring '20's, Clara Bow. Things have changed a lot in the ensuing 85 years, to the point where it's now becoming a true social issue, from the millions in taxpayer dollars spent subsidizing pro-war propaganda to the subtle indoctrination of our youth into the concept of perpetual war.
There's now a 'Marine Corps Entertainment Liaison Office" in the heart of L.A., as well as The 'Institute for Creative Technologies,' formed in 1999 with a $45 million grant awarded to USC by the Army in order to "build a partnership among the entertainment industry, Army, and academia . . ." I'm not saying the ICT is a bad thing; its goal was to produce the most realistic simulations possible for use in military training.
We are now exposed to war just about every waking minute of our day, be it movies, TV, games, news, everyday lingo (how many times have you heard "boots on the ground" in the last year?), and music. Everyone from Jay-Z to Katy Perry is increasingly embracing concepts and images of a militaristic or police-state. Perry, a blatant tool, has been getting some heat over her latest video, 'Part of Me.' Naomi Wolf makes some valid points about the video and the situation in general:
Initially, I wasn't bothered by Tinseltown producing the occasional propaganda piece and passing it off as mere entertainment. A number of people have pointed out how both sides have benefited from this symbiotic relationship; Hollywood gets advisers, personnel, locations and equipment, which lends authenticity to their films (at huge financial savings), and the military gets the benefit of painting themselves in a positive light in the eyes of the public. The military has also benefited from the partnership of Hollywood and the video game industry. Ah, video games. Yeah, we'll get to that in a minute. But, like I was saying, it didn't really bother me until I came across this UK site talking about the militarization of their schools:
Fucking Camo Day in grade school? Encouraging the military "spirit" and promoting the (undefined) military "ethos" in school children? There's even a move in the UK for the formation of "service schools" staffed entirely by ex-military personnel. No, people. It's definitely getting out of hand and brings into focus the disturbing militarization of society, and it's not endemic to the US, obviously.
More than just being "soft" propaganda and training, there's the issue that a line has been crossed, and that this blatant recruitment of kids, ideologically if not physically, violates international law:
In Johan Höglund's paper, Electronic Empire: Orientalism Revisited in the Military Shooter, he argues, rather convincingly, that games like Medal of Honor, Call of Duty and Battlefield are more than just potential recruitment and training tools, but go much further, pushing the ideology of American neo-Orientalism:
" . . . as a part of the Military Entertainment Complex, the games under scrutiny render the Middle East as a site of perpetual war and enlist, both through their marketing strategies and through game semiotics, the gamer as a soldier willing to fight the virtual war and even support the ideology that functions as the game's political rationale."
Don Derian, commenting in 2001 about the relationship between what he coined the "military-industrial-media-entertainment network" (MIMENET) and American cultural and political life, summed it up rather bleakly: "For the near future, I believe virtuous war as played out by the military-industrial-media-entertainment network will be our daily bread and nightly circus. Some would see us as staying there, suspended perpetually, in between wars of terror and counter-terror."
"In the last twenty years, it has been reported several times that Army specialists in propaganda and psychological warfare have been embedded in the staff of television networks." Full story:
For an in-depth analysis of the deep connection between the military and the games developers: