Recently we discovered that this influence has been much more extensive than people thought. We shouldn’t need to find out about the full extent of that influence through FOIA requests, and that’s assuming we do know about all of it, which I doubt.
Washington DC’s role behind the scenes in Hollywood goes deeper than you think.
Files we obtained, mainly through the US Freedom of Information Act, show that between 1911 and 2017, more than 800 feature films received support from the US Government’s Department of Defence (DoD), a significantly higher figure than previous estimates indicate. These included blockbuster franchises such as Transformers, Iron Man, and The Terminator.
On television, we found over 1,100 titles received Pentagon backing – 900 of them since 2005
“All these people that run studios – they go to Washington, they hang around with senators, they hang around with CIA directors, and everybody’s on board.”
U.S. Military Helps Create Hollywood Films on War and Warriors
The Pentagon’s partnership with Hollywood starts at this West Los Angeles office tower, where every branch of the military keeps a liaison office to the entertainment industry.
“Our mission here is to get the Navy onto the big screen and the little screen every chance we get, with every production that wants to use us. I’ll be blatant about it: We’re trying to get the Navy out there.”
And what do Hollywood studios want in return for giving the military screen time? “Usually, it’s equipment. Usually, they’re looking for toys. For them, we’re a provider. We’re a supplier, like everybody else. And Hollywood, they want the real thing. If they can get the real thing, they want the real thing.
If you want the military’s assistance, you have to give them five copies of your script. They review the script. They make changes to the script to make it conform to the kind of film that they want to see. Most Americans have no idea that the content of the films and TV shows that they’re watching are being influenced by military censors, that the military or the government is telling filmmakers what to say and what not to say.
“The only thing Hollywood likes more than a good movie is a good deal,” David Robb explains, and that’s why the producers of films like “Top Gun,” “Stripes” and “The Great Santini” have altered their scripts to accommodate Pentagon requests. In exchange, they get inexpensive access to the military locations, vehicles, troops and gear they need to make their movies.
As one of the technical advisors, Maj. David Georgi of the Army, said to me, “If they don’t do what I say, I take my toys and go away.”
The first thing you have to do is send in a request for assistance, telling them what you want pretty specifically — ships, tanks, planes, bases, forts, submarines, troops — and when you want this material available. Then you have to send five copies of the script to the Pentagon, and they give it to the affected service branches — Army, Air Force, Navy, Marine Corps, Coast Guard. Then you wait and see if they like your script or not. If they like it, they’ll help you; if they don’t, they won’t. Almost always, they’ll make you make changes to the military depictions. And you have to make the changes that they ask for, or negotiate some kind of compromise, or you don’t get the stuff.
….Of course, an ‘R’ rating means children under 17 have to be accompanied by a parent, so a lot of 16- and 17-year-olds couldn’t see this picture. And the Air Force wanted young people to see this so they’d get a good, positive image of the military and join up. So they changed it.
How the CIA Helped Make “Zero Dark Thirty”
When Zero Dark Thirty premiered in 2012, the Hollywood film about the hunt for Osama bin Laden became a blockbuster hit.
Behind the scenes, the CIA secretly worked with the filmmakers, and the movie portrayed the agency’s controversial “enhanced interrogation techniques” — widely described as torture — as a key to uncovering information that led to the finding and killing of bin Laden… but the massive Senate torture report released in December 2014 found that the program was brutal, mismanaged and — most importantly — didn’t work.