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All content tagged: DOD

Spy Culture - 2019-09-08 - Original post - cached version
The US Navy SEALs are known as the ‘quiet professionals’, but in recent times they have become the highest-profile of all US special forces. In this episode I examine several films depicting the SEALs, how the Pentagon has shaped their public image through Hollywood, and why they have become so...
Spy Culture - 2019-09-07 - Original post - cached version
Captain Phillips tells the story of the 2009 hijacking of the Maersk Alabama - a US container ship - off the coast of Somalia, and the subsequent US Navy intervention that killed three of the pirates and arrested the fourth.  It is also one of the least historically accurate films ever made,...
Spy Culture - 2019-09-06 - Original post - cached version
Walt Disney World Resort’s Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge opens this week - 14 acres of Star Wars experience for those who want to waste their money on plastic replicas of pod racers, Jar Jar Binks masks and hair dye so they can look like Vice Admiral Gender Studies from The Last Jedi.  To promote this...
Spy Culture - 2019-09-05 - Original post - cached version
Lone Survivor is a piece of absolute militaristic schlock, starring the whiny-voiced Marky Mark Wahlberg as Navy SEAL Marcus Luttrell - the only survivor of Operation Red Wings, a 2005 special forces joint operation in the summer of 2005.  Over 100 pages of Navy documents show their heavy...
Porkins Policy Review - 2019-09-04 - Original post - cached version

This week JP Sottile joined me for the first hour to discuss the climate catastrophe. We started out by discussing how many people, including myself, have long ignored this issue. We talked about how daunting and overwhelming the crisis is, and how this has led many to feel as though they can’...

Spy Culture - 2019-09-04 - Original post - cached version
GI Jane is a crude, clumsy attempt to show a 'woman's perspective' on being in the military, that ruined Demi Moore's career as a leading lady.  Little known until now is how the Pentagon negotiated with Ridley Scott to rewrite the script, and even though the film didn't qualify for military...
Spy Culture - 2019-09-03 - Original post - cached version
One issue that comes up repeatedly in the script changes enforced by the Pentagon is war crimes, and other violations of the Geneva Conventions.  As is so often the case I'm left thinking 'if only the DOD applied the same rules to real life wars as they do to the depiction of wars in Hollywood...
Spy Culture - 2019-09-02 - Original post - cached version
In the second part of our discussion (following Combat Obscura), Henri, Keagan and I talked about the 1989 Oliver Stone classic Born on the 4th of July.  Based on the real life experiences of Ron Kovic, we charted the film's development in the late 70s and into the 80s, the Pentagon's response...
Spy Culture - 2019-09-01 - Original post - cached version
Why isn’t the ‘political film’ a genre of cinema? Hollywood puts out a consistent stream of politically-themed films, but rarely if ever promotes them as such. In this episode I review and critique the book The ‘Disguised’ Political Film in Contemporary Hollywood, discussing both the good and the...
Spy Culture - 2019-08-27 - Original post - cached version
I was looking forward to Godzilla: King of the Monsters, having been a fan of giant creature features since I was a young boy.  The blend of massive-scale action and affirming our need to respect nature is a winning combination for me.  Then I watched it, and it was one of the dumbest films I have...
Spy Culture - 2019-08-20 - Original post - cached version
Sometimes the US military's rewriting of scripts is very specific - take out this joke about the US losing in Vietnam, swap this bottle of beer for an energy drink, remove this scene where soldiers set fire to a village and rape all the women. At other times their requested changes are very broad...
Spy Culture - 2019-08-13 - Original post - cached version
Amazon Prime's The Boys is not only the most enjoyable TV show I've seen all year, it's also the most subversive.  While it will appeal to audiences suffering from superhero fatigue after more than a decade of relentless Marvel and DC products, it is so much more than that.  It subverts both...
Spy Culture - 2019-08-07 - Original post - cached version
The US Army's emails on The Long Road Home show that not everything ran smoothly while filming progressed as Fort Hood.  While all of the information on script input is redacted, one email contains production notes from the Army's project officer Lt Col. Timothy Hyde, warning him to 'keep an eye...
Spy Culture - 2019-07-30 - Original post - cached version
The teaser trailer for season 2 of Tom Clancy's Jack Ryan depicts John Krasinski as the eponymous hero in a Latin American country where there is an uprising against the government (cough, Venezuela, cough).  Like season 1, I expect the show will be fully supported by the CIA but the DOD rejected...
Spy Culture - 2019-07-28 - Original post - cached version
The relationship between government liaison offices and the entertainment industry usually works well, resulting in added production value for the industry’s products and the furtherance of the government’s agendas. But sometimes things go wrong. This week we look at what happens when the...
Spy Culture - 2019-07-25 - Original post - cached version
A story doing the rounds in the last few days claims that the producers of Top Gun: Maverick changed the decals on the back of his leather jacket in order to 'appease Communist China'.  While the story may be true, not a single report has highlighted the much more egregious censorship of the...
Spy Culture - 2019-07-24 - Original post - cached version
The US military's negotiations on the 1980s Clint Eastwood vehicle Heartbreak Ridge were protracted and complex, resulting in numerous changes before the movie could be approved for Pentagon support.  This included changing Clint Eastwood's character from a soldier to a marine after the US Army...
Spy Culture - 2019-07-24 - Original post - cached version
News about this site appears to be spreading - after the flurry of articles citing Spy Culture around the release of Captain Marvel earlier this year, the Washington Business Journal put out a piece on the Top Gun: Maverick trailer using the production assistance agreement I obtained under FOIA. ...
Spy Culture - 2019-07-23 - Original post - cached version
For over a decade the CBS action drama NCIS has enjoyed a very close working relationship with the US military, which allows the entertainment liaison offices to review every script, even for episodes where they provide no support.  This unusual situation nearly fell apart in early 2014 when the...
Spy Culture - 2019-07-21 - Original post - cached version
NCIS is a wildly successful TV drama, one of the most popular series of the last 20 years. This week I recount how the DOD, Navy and Marine Corps routinely rewrite episodes of NCIS to fit their PR and propaganda goals. I look at why the relationship between the producers and the military nearly...
Spy Culture - 2019-07-19 - Original post - cached version
Tom Cruise dropped into San Diego Comic-Con this week to premiere the trailer for Top Gun: Maverick, which is nothing short of a fan service nostalgia reel and some cheesy dialogue about how Maverick is still - you've guessed it - a Maverick.  All indications are that it will be a soft reboot of...
Spy Culture - 2019-07-10 - Original post - cached version
The Pentagon’s Film Office file on Heartbreak Ridge is one of the more lengthy and interesting sets of documents.  It tells the story of how the film was rejected by the Army but was supported by the Marine Corps, before being disowned by the DOD after they previewed a rought cut of the movie. ...
Spy Culture - 2019-06-30 - Original post - cached version
The in-development film Raven Four-Two tells the story of a battle in 2005 between insurgents and a Kentucky Army National Guard Military Police Unit, during the war in Iraq.  Documents released by the US Army reveal that the film is being produced by two former Army Public Affairs officers, and...
Spy Culture - 2019-06-21 - Original post - cached version

The Pentagon recently released the Production Assistance Agreement they signed with the producers of Top Gun: Maverick. It details the vast scale of support provided to the film, including turning over command authority to Jerry Bruckheimer, and notes that Navy officials would 'weave in key...

Spy Culture - 2019-06-19 - Original post - cached version
The PRISM Awards are an entertainment industry ceremony that gives out gongs for accurate depictions of substance abuse and mental health problems in films and TV shows.  In 2012 the Pentagon were asked to attend and participate in the awards, which caused quite a stir within the entertainment...
Spy Culture - 2019-06-09 - Original post - cached version
Fields of Fire is one of the greatest movies that was never made. A brutal but sympathetic portrait of the Vietnam War, it was denied military support despite being written by a former Secretary of the Navy. This week I examine the story of Fields of Fire using a file from the DOD’s entertainment...
Spy Culture - 2019-06-07 - Original post - cached version
When James Webb approached the Pentagon to ask for assistance making his Vietnam war drama Fields of Fire he had every right to expect their support.  A former Marine and short-term Secretary of the Navy he was a military veteran who had written his novel based on his own real-life experiences of...
Spy Culture - 2019-06-06 - Original post - cached version
Today I received an email that I thought I would share with you, from the publishers of the American Journal of Economics and Sociology.  It said that the two articles I penned for the journal were among the top 20 most-downloaded articles in the year following publication, and even offered me a...
Spy Culture - 2019-06-06 - Original post - cached version
The DOD's directive on working with Hollywood says that they can provide production assistance if it is deemed 'in the best interest of the Nation', but as with all their criteria for deciding whether to give support the Pentagon interpret this very broadly.  They use the considerable influence...
Spy Culture - 2019-06-03 - Original post - cached version
When the producers of Clear and Present Danger approached the Pentagon to ask for military support they probably weren't expecting 6 months of script negotiations to get their film into a shape deemed acceptable by the entertainment liaison offices.  Documents from the DOD show how their concerns...
Spy Culture - 2019-06-02 - Original post - cached version
1994’s Clear and Present Danger is one of the most important movies in the cinema of the war on drugs, depicting black operations by the CIA and US military against a Colombian drug cartel. In this episode I do a deep dive on Clear and Present Danger, and how it set the standards for much of the...
Spy Culture - 2019-05-26 - Original post - cached version
Iran-Contra is in many ways the definitive government conspiracy – involving guns, drugs, anti-communism and black operations, it went all the way to the White House. This week I examine several films that implicitly or explicitly incorporate the Iran-Contra conspiracy into their plots, as well as...
Spy Culture - 2019-05-21 - Original post - cached version
1988's The Presidio wanted to film at the real Presidio in San Francisco, an Army installation.  As per usual this required a full military script review, but the DOD responded demanding a 'complete rewrite' before they would approve access to the base.  The resulting film bears little resemblance...
Spy Culture - 2019-05-19 - Original post - cached version
Monster movies are one of the most beloved and distinctive genres in cinema, featuring a winning combination of exotic spectacle, ground-breaking visual effects and reflections on humanity’s relationship with nature. This week I examine the politics and ideas behind some of the most recognisable...
Spy Culture - 2019-05-13 - Original post - cached version
On this month's subscriber-only podcast I review one of my favourite films of all time - Starship Troopers. I discuss the film's dual narratives, how it is an anti-war film disguised as a piece of war propaganda, and why it was so misunderstood when it first came out. I outline my view that...
Spy Culture - 2019-05-08 - Original post - cached version
Chris and Danny invited me back onto their podcast to discuss the 1994 comedy-drama Forrest Gump.  We talked about the original book by Winston Groom as well as McNamara's 100,000 - a project to recruit troops into the US Army who would normally have fallen below the required standards.  We honed...
Spy Culture - 2019-05-08 - Original post - cached version
The 2005 biographical war film Jarhead is one of a very small number of films set in the first Gulf War.  Despite being based on the autobiography of a Marine who served in Desert Storm the DOD refused to provide it with military support.  But how can a film based on a first-hand account not meet...
Spy Culture - 2019-05-02 - Original post - cached version
The Superman reboot Man of Steel launched the (now abandoned) DC Extended Universe, and put a much darker tinge on the Superman franchise than any previous incarnation, especially the Christopher Reeve classics.  Man of Steel benefited from large-scale support from the military, but hidden until...
Spy Culture - 2019-04-30 - Original post - cached version
In 1977 the producers of Superman and Superman II approached the Pentagon to try to obtain stock footage of missiles launching, for use in depicting Lex Luthor's dastardly plot to nuke the San Andreas fault.  The Air Force and Strategic Air Command were provided with copies of the script in order...
Spy Culture - 2019-04-23 - Original post - cached version
Deep Impact is one of a pair of twin films released in 1998 that were based around a giant meteor colliding with earth. The film and its twin, the more successful Armageddon, were both supported by NASA and the Department of Defense. Inevitably, this meant script changes to fit in with the...
Spy Culture - 2019-04-21 - Original post - cached version
While it is now considered a Cold War classic Ice Station Zebra was a flop when it was first released. This week, I review Ice Station Zebra and analyse the development of the film, how it differs quite radically from the book, and why the DOD rejected an early version of the script, leading to a...
Spy Culture - 2019-04-16 - Original post - cached version
The post-WW2 period was the zenith for military and war movies - over 200 were made in the 1950s, and the same in the 1960s.  According to an entry in the DOD's Hollywood database they provided support to every major military movie for over a decade, putting an entire genre of film in their sphere...
Spy Culture - 2019-04-11 - Original post - cached version
One of the veterans of the ambush in Sadr City in April 2004 has revealed that National Geographic's film The Long Road Home is a shameful piece of propaganda that butchers history and ignored offers of help from the squad who were actually in the firefight in order to present a bastardised and...
Spy Culture - 2019-04-11 - Original post - cached version
Production assistance agreements released by the Defense Department show the United States military used taxpayer money to subsidize part of the production of the National Geographic series, “The Long Road Home,” and a companion documentary.

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Spy Culture - 2019-04-10 - Original post - cached version
In what appears to be little more than a promo for the third John Wick film, a recently-released video shows star Keanu Reeves being trained by former Navy SEAL and CIA contractor Shawn Ryan.  A veteran of the war on terror, the video shows Ryan teaching Keanu how to walk into a room with a gun,...
Spy Culture - 2019-04-09 - Original post - cached version
UFOs.  Probable extraterrestrials.  Investigation and revelation.  Nazi scientists.  A military cover-up.  With all these elements in place the History Channel's Project Blue Book should be an exciting, unpredictable replacement for The X-Files.  Instead it is a dull-as-dishwater procedural that...
Spy Culture - 2019-04-03 - Original post - cached version
The production of Ice Station Zebra is a great case study in just how much influence the Pentagon can have over a movie script.  The initial script - by multi-Oscar winning writer Paddy Chayefsky - was rejected by the DOD for being too politically critical and culturally subversive.  In the midst...
Spy Culture - 2019-03-31 - Original post - cached version
Osama Bin Laden’s death is the perfect postmodern event, in that most of the reports detailing how, where and when he died contradict all the other reports. This week I take an in-depth look at the Abbottabad raid of 2011 and the official story of Bin Laden’s death, analyzing some of the myriad...
Spy Culture - 2019-03-26 - Original post - cached version
Word about the entertainment liaison offices continues to spread - The Statist Quo podcast recently did a focus episode on the DOD's film office, Phil Strub and the rewriting of movie scripts.  Hosted by Matt, a US Army veteran and ex-convict, the episode focuses in on Black Hawk Down and also...

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