AN EVIL dictator is on the brink of making a nuclear bomb at a secret facility carved deep inside the Zagros mountains. With no option, the American military deploys jets and, against all odds, destroys the factory — then flies home to the strains of [Highway to the] Danger Zone.
An evil dictator is on the brink of using a nuclear bomb. With no option, the American military deploys secret agents and, against all odds, triggers a democratic revolution by blowing up the dictator in his helicopter to the strains of Katy Perry’s Firework.
I‘ve just outlined the plots of Top Gun: Maverick starring Tom Cruise and The Interview starring Seth Rogan.
But it also describes real world aspirations — here towards Iran and North Korea — from top policymakers across Nato.
These parallels are no coincidence. Because each film was actually subject to script changes imposed by Washington. In the documentary Theaters of War, we show how the CIA and Defence Department have exercised editorial control over thousands of films and TV shows in exchange for lending equipment like helicopters to producers to use on screen.
Such films reflect and construct the paranoid fantasies of our imperial masters, most of them with direct script input: Iran taking Western hostages in Ben Affleck’s Argo; kindly marines unjustly slaughtered for handing out grain to hungry Africans in Black Hawk Down; US politicians too innocent to realise that arming Islamic terrorists will lead to 9/11 in the Julia Roberts hit Charlie Wilson’s War, and the Gerard Butler film Kandahar in which an evil dictator is on the brink of manufacturing a nuclear bomb at a secret facility carved deep inside a mountain. With no option and against all odds…
Is it any wonder that 30 per cent of Americans in a poll said they want to bomb Agrabah, the capital city in Disney’s Aladdin?
Is it any wonder that our politicians, as though clutching rosary beads, prefigure Russia’s invasion of Ukraine with the word “illegal” with no sense of irony and “unprovoked” with no sense of history? When was the last thing you saw depicting Russia which didn’t have it crawling with tyrants? Red Dawn? Rambo; Air Force One; Hunter Killer; James Bond; Jack Ryan; 24; Homeland; Stranger Things…the 6 O’Clock News?
The US government has suppressed scripts — but on others it has overturned their original messages. In the Iron Man screenplay, Robert Downey Jr’s hero was opposed to his father’s arms business. After rewrites he became the ultimate evangelist for a bloodless industry: “Peace means having a bigger stick than the other guy.”
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