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Spy Culture

Spy Culture - 2019-02-28 - Original post - cached version
The US Army provided extensive support to the National Geographic film series The Long Road Home, supposedly to ensure it depicted the real-life battle of Sadr City in a 'reasonably realistic' way. But Army emails that I obtained under FOIA show they were more concerned with the fact that a...
Spy Culture - 2019-02-27 - Original post - cached version

Just like other government agencies the FBI are deeply involved in the entertainment industry, collaborating with film andTV producers to...

Spy Culture - 2019-02-26 - Original post - cached version

The FBI recently released a tranche of documents on the USA Network TV series Burn Notice.  While most of the...

Spy Culture - 2019-02-24 - Original post - cached version

Anwar al Awlaki rose to notoriety in the 2000s as a leading internet jihadist whose lectures and videos were very...

Spy Culture - 2019-02-23 - Original post - cached version

Anwar Al Awlaki was the head of Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula until his death in a CIA drone...

Spy Culture - 2019-02-20 - Original post - cached version

Compared to the DOD, the US intelligence agencies support a more politically diverse range of movies, from the hi-tech surveillance...

Spy Culture - 2019-02-17 - Original post - cached version

The British government’s role in using the entertainment industry is smaller than in America, but nonetheless involves many of the...

Spy Culture - 2019-02-16 - Original post - cached version

I recently joined Henri of Fortress on a Hill to discuss the National Geographic drama series The Long Road Home,...

Spy Culture - 2019-02-13 - Original post - cached version

1996’s action thriller Executive Decision may be light on action and lacking thrills but it is notable for one thing...

Spy Culture - 2019-02-10 - Original post - cached version

In this month’s subscriber-only podcast I explore several DOD-supported films and the files on them from the Lawrence Suid archive. ...

Spy Culture - 2019-02-04 - Original post - cached version

The Department of Defense’s entertainment liaison office file on the 1996 thriller Executive Decision was, for many years, secreted in...

Spy Culture - 2019-02-03 - Original post - cached version

The 1996 action thriller Executive Decision was an early example of what should be called ‘irregular war films’, pitting a...

Spy Culture - 2019-02-02 - Original post - cached version

Missy Peregrym and Zeeko Zaki, two of the stars of the CBS drama FBI were asked about the government shutdown...

Spy Culture - 2019-01-23 - Original post - cached version

The DOD claim that they only rewrite Hollywood scripts in order to ensure accuracy and to inform the public about...

Spy Culture - 2019-01-20 - Original post - cached version

I recently found out that Strub retired from his job as the DOD’s Hollywood liaison last July, though this wasn’t...

Spy Culture - 2019-01-19 - Original post - cached version

The US Coast Guard’s film office remains open despite the government shut down.  While 350,000 federal workers are currently not...

Spy Culture - 2019-01-17 - Original post - cached version

In my final review of The Wire I discuss how the core theme of season 5 – truth – plays...

Spy Culture - 2019-01-16 - Original post - cached version

The National Geographic drama series The Long Road Home tells a version of the story of the battle for Sadr...

Spy Culture - 2019-01-09 - Original post - cached version

The Pentagon’s censorship of movie scripts is fairly well established – I have documented numerous instances on this site.  But...

Spy Culture - 2019-01-06 - Original post - cached version

A story doing the rounds claims that the Trump administration is taking advantage of the government shut-down to change the...

Spy Culture - 2019-01-06 - Original post - cached version

Aimen Dean, born Ali Al-Duranni, was MI6’s spy inside Al Qaeda from 1998 to 2006. In this episode I do...

Spy Culture - 2019-01-04 - Original post - cached version
Newly-released documents on the Institute for Statecraft's Integrity Initiative suggest that they had a hand in the Salisbury poisoning fiasco that dominated the British press last summer. An alternative narrative - whereby the poisoning of Yulia and Sergei Skripal was the work of British military...
Spy Culture - 2019-01-03 - Original post - cached version
A few months ago, then DOD Hollywood liaison Phil Strub gave an interview in which he described the work of the entertainment liaison offices. A document recently released by the US Navy proves that many of Strub's statements simply aren't true, and that the Pentagon are much more aggressive and...
Spy Culture - 2018-12-31 - Original post - cached version
2018 was another year of chaos — in politics, economics, culture, the climate and in most other areas of life worth talking about. Here I explore why 2019 is likely to be more of the same, given the lack of any serious attempts to address the causes and confront reality.

(Read more...)...

Spy Culture - 2018-12-31 - Original post - cached version
Since the publication of National Security Cinema last summer, we have seen an uptick in the media coverage of the Pentagon in Hollywood, much of it originating with the Pentagon itself. This week I take a look at the PR efforts the DOD has embarked upon, about its own PR efforts in Hollywood....
Spy Culture - 2018-12-28 - Original post - cached version
The 1990 World Cup was considered a big success for the England football team, as getting to the semi-finals was the greatest progress in a tournament since winning the trophy in 1966. Documents recently released by the National Archives show that the July 1990 visit to Number 10 Downing Street...
Spy Culture - 2018-12-28 - Original post - cached version
After actor Dominic West suggested that the next James Bond be transgender the commentariat have gone batshit arguing over whether this is a key moment in the struggle for trans rights or another sign that the entertainment industry is dominated by damn commie liberals with their Jewish gay-loving...
Spy Culture - 2018-12-27 - Original post - cached version
In this penultimate review episode I look at how the education system is a poor place to learn anything, how standardised testing is a form of child abuse, the fundamental problems of electoral politics, and expand on why an intelligence-based approach to societal problems is always better than a...
Spy Culture - 2018-12-26 - Original post - cached version
One of the Pentagon's consistent bugbears when it comes to movie scripts is swearing. Whether it is from the mouths of military or civilian characters, the DOD doesn't like those ████ing cuss words. But why not? Given their various political and PR concerns why is bad language such a problem?...
Spy Culture - 2018-12-22 - Original post - cached version
In this month's subscriber-only podcast I discuss the links between the sacking of the manager of Manchester United, why there isn't a new Star Wars film out this Christmas, and the macroeconomics of Brexit. I examine all three in the context of a failing economic system, recounting the history...
Spy Culture - 2018-12-20 - Original post - cached version
Air Force One is one of the great military commercials disguised as a feature film. Laden with Russophobic rhetoric and corny dialogue about the heroism of the US military, it ticked every box for the DOD so they granted it full production support. The Pentagon's script notes for the movie...
Spy Culture - 2018-12-18 - Original post - cached version
A few weeks ago, Hollywood star Gerard Butler found himself behind a podium at the Pentagon talking to the national press. Given how rare Pentagon press conference have become in recent months, a number of people have asked the question as to how he ended up there, and why a Scottish movie star...
Spy Culture - 2018-12-16 - Original post - cached version
China is without doubt a major player in Hollywood. Both private investment and state regulations and censorship have played a significant role in the American movie business in recent years. This week I examine the Chinese influence on Hollywood, both in terms of the shape of the industry and...
Spy Culture - 2018-12-14 - Original post - cached version
In our latest article, Matt and I reflect on two of the most common claims made about National Security Cinema, namely 1) That the government is really important in making movies more militaristic and 2) That Hollywood doesn’t produce dissenting films. While the first of these is somewhat true it...
Spy Culture - 2018-12-13 - Original post - cached version
In 1994 the Chinese government first allowed Hollywood films to be distributed within the country.  Since then the US and China have been in a near-constant state of negotiations over import quotas, profit sharing and market access.  In 2007 the US brought a case before the World Trade...
Spy Culture - 2018-12-11 - Original post - cached version
Chris and Danny from Fortress on a Hill invited me onto their podcast to discuss militarism in Hollywood, the DOD's role in altering scripts, how recruitment propaganda works in the UK, the military vs intelligence approaches to counterinsurgency and other related topics.

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Spy Culture - 2018-12-11 - Original post - cached version
In July the Pentagon's Hollywood liaison Philip Strub retired after 29 years in the job. Mysteriously, this was not reported by any media outlet, small or large, mainstream or independent. Despite having influenced literally thousands of movies, TV shows, documentaries and video games in the...
Spy Culture - 2018-12-11 - Original post - cached version
While some senior military officials have spoken openly about the possibility of a war between the US and China, the entertainment liaison offices appear to be working to ensure that doesn't happen. Perhaps surprisingly, they have refused to support films, TV shows and video games where China is...
Spy Culture - 2018-12-09 - Original post - cached version
Nazis make the perfect Hollywood villains – instantly recognisable, obviously deplorable and easy to recreate. So why were there no anti-Nazi films until 1939, on the eve of World War 2? This week I explore the history of Nazis in Hollywood in the 1930s, how the German government influenced...
Spy Culture - 2018-12-06 - Original post - cached version
This week, I welcome Matt Alford to the show to talk about the media manipulation of the image of the British Royal Family, and how it relates to British foreign policy, including Brexit. From the killing of rare animals to closet fascism, to interfering in politics and criminal investigations, we...
Spy Culture - 2018-12-06 - Original post - cached version
Four years ago, scholar Ben Urwand revealed how the Nazis' man in Hollywood Georg Gyssling censored and rewrote film scripts to remove scenes and dialogue that criticised the Nazi regime. He also repeatedly removed references to the suffering of Jews in post-WW1 Germany. Hidden until now, the...
Spy Culture - 2018-12-04 - Original post - cached version
The latest release from the US Army's entertainment liaison office provokes many questions. Why did they refuse to support the movie Rampage? Why are the military pitching ideas to studio executives? Who is in charge of the Pentagon's operations in Hollywood? And why does the US Army have a...
Spy Culture - 2018-12-01 - Original post - cached version
The Spook Who Sat by the Door tells the story of the first African-American to be recruited by the CIA. After becoming disillusioned with the Agency he quits and sets up a black power guerilla army that wages urban war across the United States. According to its writer Sam Greenlee the film was...
Spy Culture - 2018-11-28 - Original post - cached version
In part 3 of this subcriber-only review series I look at season three of The Wire. In this season the Barksdale storyline comes to a climax, while the city hall politics are added into the ever-expanding world of the show. I examine the Hamsterdam experiment, where one police major decides to...
Spy Culture - 2018-11-28 - Original post - cached version
The FBI got back to me recently with a response to my request on The Spook Who Sat by the Door, including a few pages from Sam Greenlee's FBI file, which they'd previously claimed they could not find. Amusingly, the version of this file released to my by the National Archives contains several...
Spy Culture - 2018-11-26 - Original post - cached version
The US Army’s entertainment liaison office has worked on as wide a variety of TV entertainment as you can imagine, from Oprah to Top Chef, from The Price is Right to Man of Steel.  But they do sometimes reject requests for support, as was the case with Wife Swap which was turned down partly...
Spy Culture - 2018-11-25 - Original post - cached version
The men and women who are employed by the US military to fight its hegemonic wars often suffer from serious mental illness. Depression, PTSD/trauma, extreme anxiety and stress – these are commonplace among people both within the military and among veterans. In this episode I explore how the...
Spy Culture - 2018-11-23 - Original post - cached version
Since launching National Security Cinema last year, Matt and I have encountered a lot of questions about the field. These are our answers to some of the most Frequently Asked Questions and Comments about entertainment liaison offices and the politics of Hollywood films.

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Spy Culture - 2018-11-21 - Original post - cached version
The latest reports from the US Army's entertainment liaison office show surprisingly few examples of them providing production assistance to films and TV shows. Instead, they appear to be spending the majority of their time arranging PR events, cosying up to studio executives and monitoring how...
Spy Culture - 2018-11-18 - Original post - cached version
In this month's susbcriber-only podcast I talk about my new screenplay project - a political satire of Hollywood. I talk about my history with acting and writing, and discuss some of my creative process, how I developed two simple ideas and combined them to form the basis for my screenplay. I also...

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