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Spy Culture

Spy Culture - 2018-08-05 - Original post - cached version
The American President is a romantic comedy set in the White House, set against a backdrop of political issues that are still part of our public conversation. In this episode I analyse the film's politics of nostalgia, its idealisation of the liberal agenda, and its promotion of the military and...
Spy Culture - 2018-08-03 - Original post - cached version
A recently-released syllabus for the US Naval Academy’s course FP130: American Government and Constitutional Development includes a section that advises students to watch and learn from the 1995 romantic comedy The American President.  Bizarrely, the scene does not involve the military or foreign...
Spy Culture - 2018-07-31 - Original post - cached version
In March 2016 I submitted a request to the US Navy for copies of entertainment liaison office reports, script notes and production assistance agreements. Over a hundred emails and three appeals later they have finally released some script notes to me, but the document is almost entirely redacted...
Spy Culture - 2018-07-29 - Original post - cached version
For movie censors, crime is perhaps the most complex issue to make decisions about. They want the public to be alert to the possibility of crimes happening, and respectful of law enforcement institutions. But entertainers and audiences want dramatic, ambiguous villains and stories of institutional...
Spy Culture - 2018-07-27 - Original post - cached version
The West’s claim to moral superiority and its assumption of the role of ‘world’s policeman’ are largely derived from a classical approach to liberalism. In short, the argument is that our societies are more liberal (and therefore superior), so we have the unique right to spread our values around...
Spy Culture - 2018-07-25 - Original post - cached version
For the last several weeks the British media has been in full panic mode after two people were apparently poisoned in the English town of Amesbury, a few miles from Salisbury. The official story is that the pair found a perfume bottle containing Novichok that was discarded by Russian assassins...
Spy Culture - 2018-07-25 - Original post - cached version
Recently released files show that Denis Thatcher – the oil baron husband of British PM Margaret Thatcher – personally vetted a list of celebrities to be invited for a glitzy reception at Number 10.  While the likes of Ronnie Corbett, Judi Dench and Andrew Lloyd-Webber were considered friends of...
Spy Culture - 2018-07-23 - Original post - cached version
While most entertainment supports or promote the military, police and intelligence agencies there is a smaller but important sub-genre that critiques and satirises the security state.  On this month’s subscriber-only podcast I look at four examples – two TV series and two films – that mock and...
Spy Culture - 2018-07-15 - Original post - cached version
The death of weapons expert and UN inspector Dr David Kelly in the summer of 2003 is one of the Iraq War’s most enduring mysteries. While the case was officially ruled a suicide, this conclusion was reached by an informal government inquiry which the Blair government used to replace the normal,...
Spy Culture - 2018-07-11 - Original post - cached version
As the Amesbury poisoning drama enters its third act we have been given an entirely new set of claims regarding Novichok, which directly contradict the previous claims. With an air of ‘scientific’ authority the BBC is now telling us that Novichok could be around for decades, implying that everyone...
Spy Culture - 2018-07-08 - Original post - cached version
John Paisley was a senior CIA officer who worked on Team B, was the Agency’s liaison to the Watergate burglars, and according to some was a Soviet double agent. In 1978 he disappeared while sailing in the Chesapeake Bay, and the body that washed up was never definitively identified as his. This...
Spy Culture - 2018-07-05 - Original post - cached version
With the Russian World Cup proving to be one of the most entertaining, unpredictable and violence-free tournaments in recent memory the British government has been asking what it can do to disrupt the event. As with everything else, this government has proven short of ideas and has simply opted...
Spy Culture - 2018-07-01 - Original post - cached version
One of the growing markets in spy fiction is pop culture aimed at teenagers or ‘young adults’. The CHERUB series by Robert Muchamore depicts a junior wing of MI6, with the first novel in the series – The Recruit – depicting the recruitment, training and first mission of our protagonist, James...
Spy Culture - 2018-06-27 - Original post - cached version
Julia Kristeva is one of the 20th century’s most famous female intellectuals who has won numerous gongs and awards for her contributions to linguistics, philosophy, psychoanalytics and semiotics.  She was part of the top-level French philosophical clique that included Roland Barthes and Jacques...
Spy Culture - 2018-06-26 - Original post - cached version
Ever since the revelation that the radical author George Orwell had provided names of possible communists to British intelligence, liberal revisionists have claimed he was a crypto-racist and a British spy. Any honest examination of the available documents shows that not only is this untrue,...
Spy Culture - 2018-06-20 - Original post - cached version
As the Russian football team stands on the brink of qualification for the World Cup knockout rounds for the first time since the Soviet era, Western media begrudgingly grants them some credit. However, there is no sign of any apology for the years-long propaganda campaign that pre-emptively...
Spy Culture - 2018-06-19 - Original post - cached version
For the last few weeks I’ve been working a research project on how the Pentagon’s entertainment liaison offices deal with the subjects of military mental health and suicide.  Today the fruits of that research were published by Insurge Intelligence, a crowdfunded journalism platform run by Nafeez...
Spy Culture - 2018-06-17 - Original post - cached version
A year ago I published the book National Security Cinema: The Shocking New Evidence of Government Control in Hollywood.  On this month’s subscriber podcast I reflect on the success of the book, its impact on media coverage of the topic of government influence on entertainment and the plans for a...
Spy Culture - 2018-06-15 - Original post - cached version
Information recently obtained under FOIA has revealed that up to 200 Home Office staff have liaised with TV and Film producers about the content of their products, usually without any kind of contract in place governing their behaviour.  While they are refusing to release exact details, this is...
Spy Culture - 2018-06-14 - Original post - cached version
Dennis Rodman's visit to North Korea in early 2013 sent shock waves through the international media and inspired a CIA-supported Hollywood film about assassinating Kim Jong-Un. It also drew the attention of the US State Department, who recently released cables about Rodman's trip, though they are...
Spy Culture - 2018-06-13 - Original post - cached version
The entertainment highlight of the Trump-Kim negotiations is, undoubtedly, the fake movie trailer the White House showed to North Korean officials and displayed before Trump's press conference in Singapore. Perhaps the most interesting aspect to the Trump trailer is how commentators and critics...
Spy Culture - 2018-06-10 - Original post - cached version
This week I am joined by long-time 9/11 researcher and activist Jon Gold, to talk about his new book We Were Lied to About 9/11. We discuss Jon’s experiences both of the 9/11 attacks and of his years of research and activism, along with the legacy of the ‘truth movement’ and why Jon’s approach is...
Spy Culture - 2018-06-06 - Original post - cached version
The Untouchables TV series (1959-63) was the first of its kind – a police procedural with explicit violence and action.  Up until then most detective stories focused on the investigation, but The Untouchables featured the gunfights and car chases that became staples of the genre by the 1970s.  It...
Spy Culture - 2018-06-03 - Original post - cached version
The Last Supper is a 1990s black comedy where a group of ultra-liberal post-graduate students invite right-wingers over for debate, and kill them if they cannot change their minds. In this episode I analyse this film’s political satire, the occult symbolism littered throughout the movie, and how...
Spy Culture - 2018-05-27 - Original post - cached version
In 1995 the Pentagon supported an episode of the popular sitcom Home Improvement, where Tim and Jill get to drive tanks at a Marine base. This week we take a deep dive into this episode, its feminist subtext, and the DOD’s political censorship of the script, courtesy of a file from an archive in...
Spy Culture - 2018-05-20 - Original post - cached version
For decades the Eurovision Song Contest has been a platform for projecting soft power and engaging in cultural warfare.  In this month’s subscriber-only podcast I look at how Eurovision entries have been used for propaganda and have been subject to political censorship. I discuss this year’s...
Spy Culture - 2018-05-13 - Original post - cached version
In 1974 former CIA officer Victor Marchetti and former State Department official John Marks published their book The CIA and the Cult of Intelligence. This week I examine a file in the JFK archives that details what the CIA censored from the book, and why. I look at several categories of CIA...
Spy Culture - 2018-04-22 - Original post - cached version
This week I review the most recent Star Wars film The Last Jedi and analyse its politics. I discuss its anti-war and progressive tokenism, and why this is ultimately undermined by being symbolic, and not narrative-based.  None of the ‘progressive’ character moments or dialogue in the film have any...
Spy Culture - 2018-04-16 - Original post - cached version
I recently joined Robbie Martin of Media Roots to discussion the Salisbury poisoning, the Skripals, the Syrian airstrikes and the general state of politics and Russophobia.  We covered many of the reasons to be sceptical of the official story about the poisoning of the Skripals, how this relates...
Spy Culture - 2018-04-15 - Original post - cached version
In this month’s subscriber-only podcast I take a look at three TV series which predicted or reinforced various aspects of the official story of the poisoning of Sergei and Yulia Skripal.  I examine Salvation, Homeland and Strike Back have featured dialogue and storylines about Litvinenko, Russian...
Spy Culture - 2018-04-08 - Original post - cached version
On March 4th Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia were poisoned in the sleepy British city of Salisbury, by forces currently unknown. The British government immediately blamed Russian intelligence, leading to weeks of accusations and counter-accusations, diplomatic expulsions and lots of...
Spy Culture - 2018-04-08 - Original post - cached version
I am joined today by Robbie Martin and Pearse Redmond to talk about the 2008 9/11 conspiracy thriller The Reflecting Pool. We pick on various aspects of the film that relate or comment on the 9/11 truth movement, including the bizarre consensus that thermite brought down the WTC which has...
Spy Culture - 2018-04-05 - Original post - cached version
Newly released documents in the JFK files have cast fresh light on the CIA’s plots to kill Fidel Castro.  One interview with William Harvey – known as ‘America’s James Bond’, reveals that Robert Kennedy invoked 007 while trying to urge the Agency forward in its anti-Castro operations. William King...
Spy Culture - 2018-04-01 - Original post - cached version
Russiagate has become both the gift that keeps on giving and the scandal that will not die. This week we take a look at the allegations, the perceptions and the misconceptions, examining how the ‘fake news’ crisis grew out of the claim that the Russian government hacked the 2016 US presidential...
Spy Culture - 2018-03-31 - Original post - cached version
In this special podcast just for Pearse’s patreon subscribers (also available to my subscribers) we discuss all things Cambridge Analytica, Alexander Nix and Christopher Wylie.  Fundamentally we ask whether their activities are new or unique, or merely the most well-known when dozens of other...
Spy Culture - 2018-03-31 - Original post - cached version
In our mid-season review and analysis of Homeland season 7, Pearse and I get into various strands of the show including the Brett O’Keefe/Waco arc, the Russiagate conspiracy, how the CIA should be portrayed as having utterly failed the country but have somehow dressed themselves up as the heroes,...
Spy Culture - 2018-03-19 - Original post - cached version
I was recently invited onto the Rory O'Connor podcast to talk about National Security Cinema, the research methods we employed to get the information and documents, and the difference between the DOD and the CIA's approaches to Hollywood.

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Spy Culture - 2018-03-18 - Original post - cached version
On this month’s subscriber-only podcast I talk about my new job and why it means I’ve been unable to produce much content recently, and about the US Air Force’s competition to name the in-development B-21 strategic bomber. From the Trumpnator to Bomby McPlaneFace, a lot of the suggestions are very...
Spy Culture - 2018-03-06 - Original post - cached version
Professor CJ invited me onto his Dangerous History Podcast recently to discuss the research behind National Security Cinema, what we found, and what it means. We talk about conspiracy theories, how I got into this line of research, what methods I employed, the nature of the entertainment liaison...
Spy Culture - 2018-03-04 - Original post - cached version
From racism and sexism to the military-industrial complex, the politics both within the Marvel Cinematic Universe and surrounding it here in the real world are a constant source of news stories and controversy. This week we look at how the world’s biggest film franchise is both the source and the...
Spy Culture - 2018-02-27 - Original post - cached version
David Sirota invited me onto his podcast to talk about National Security Cinema and how the DOD and CIA secretly shape pop culture. This was a rapid-fire conversation where we got into examples of political censorship by government agencies, the operations of the entertainment liaison offices,...
Spy Culture - 2018-02-25 - Original post - cached version
Cambridge Analytica are a big data marketing firm who, according to numerous media commentators, were the critical factor in the election of Donald Trump. They are the subject of many officially-endorsed, fully-mainstreamed conspiracy theories proposed by different segments of the political-media...
Spy Culture - 2018-02-19 - Original post - cached version
Keelan Balderson invited me back onto the WideShut Webcast to chat about the research that went into National Security Cinema, as well as the response and reception the book has enjoyed.  We get quite deeply into the notion that the CIA are cultivating a ‘bad boy image’ through Hollywood, and how...
Spy Culture - 2018-02-18 - Original post - cached version
Spy is a 2004 BBC gameshow where ordinary members of the public are trained and tested by real life ex-spooks and ultimately some are eliminated until there’s a winner. Spies is a 2017 Channel 4 gameshow where ordinary members of the public are trained and tested by real life ex-spooks and...
Spy Culture - 2018-02-14 - Original post - cached version
Continuing our long-running commentary, Pearse invited me back onto Porkins Policy Radio to talk about the first episode of the new season of Homeland.  For the first time in several seasons Homeland maintained the storyline from the previous season rather than rebooting the show’s storyline and...
Spy Culture - 2018-02-11 - Original post - cached version
On this month’s subscriber-only podcast I talk about my political and personal motives for doing this sort of work as well some of my thoughts on strategies for tackling political problems. I discuss the history of anarchism – both intellectual and terroristic – and how I see my work fitting into...
Spy Culture - 2018-02-07 - Original post - cached version
A recently released document from the JFK files has confirmed an old rumour: that the CIA helped arrange the affair between actress Susan Cabot and King Hussein of Jordan.  The memo records how the man directly involved was the CIA’s on-the-ground fixer in Hollywood, Robert Maheu. The Affair Cabot...
Spy Culture - 2018-02-04 - Original post - cached version
Ted Kaczynski is most famous for both being the most prolific serial bomber in US history and for writing the Unabomber Manifesto – a political-philosophical tract that was published by major newspapers and by the FBI. This week I take a look at the life of Ted Kaczynski and conduct a...
Spy Culture - 2018-02-01 - Original post - cached version
Pearse invited me back onto Porkins Policy Radio to chat about my research into the little-known Science and Entertainment Exchange.  We discussed how SEEX got started, their stated mission and aims and how they contrast sharply with what SEEX actually does, their ability to influence scripts and...
Spy Culture - 2018-01-28 - Original post - cached version
Aside from Ian Fleming, there is no more influential spy author than Tom Clancy. Clancy’s books (and the films and computer games based on them) benefited from his close contact with the US government. This week we shed light on his relationships with the CIA and the NSA, and ask whether the CIA’s...

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