Hollywood

Vietnam Bans a Movie, But Somehow It is China’s Fault?

Today's entertainment news features an absolute gem of political hypocrisy: Vietnam's one party 'Communist' state has banned the animated kids' movie Abominable, and the Western media are heralding the decision, claiming that Vietnam are standing up to China's censorious one party 'Communist' state.  This is perhaps the dumbest employmen

The Film Censorship Cold War — China vs the US

Recently, Martha Bayles of The Atlantic published a hilariously misleading essay calling for Hollywood to produce more pro-American propaganda, in the face of the Chinese government’s increased role in the entertainment industry.

ClandesTime 194 – Oliver Stone’s JFK

This week, I welcome to the show author and friend James Oddy to discuss the JFK assassination case and its treatment in the Oliver Stone movie JFK. We look at the psychological and political consequences of the assassination, as well as the political and cultural impact of the film.

Revolving Doors: Technical Advisors and The Entertainment-Propaganda Complex

The role of the technical advisor is crucial to understanding the military-Hollywood relationship, but very few people know who these people are or what they do.  Even less well known is that a significant number of private industry techni

Disney’s Star Wars, the Military and the Worst Hats I’ve Ever Seen

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

Act of Valor: When the US Navy Commissioned one of the Worst Films Ever Made

2012's Act of Valor is widely recognised as the terrible, dull, depressing, futile piece of cinema that it surely is, but what is less well-recognised is that it was the brainchild of the US Navy's Special Warfare Recruiting Directorate, and they h

ClandesTime 191 – The ‘Disguised’ Political Film in Hollywood

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.

Schlock ex Machina – Is Godzilla: King of the Monsters the Dumbest Movie Ever?

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

ClandesTime 190 – Karl Rove and the Cultural Impact of 9/11

In the immediate aftermath of the 9/11 attacks, President Bush’s chief spin doctor and senior advisor Karl Rove enlisted Hollywood’s help in selling the War on Terror.

From Premises to Character Arcs – How Deeply the Military Rewrites Film & TV

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

Why Amazon’s The Boys is the Most Subversive TV Show of the Year

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 mo

ClandesTime 187 – When Entertainment Liaison Offices Go Bad

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.

Spy Culture in the Washington Business Journal

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 o

‘I Can Get the Pentagon to Vouch for Me’ – Michael Bay letter to the CIA

Michael Bay is well known for working closely with government agencies when making his films, mostly the Pentagon but also NASA.  Less well known is how he worked with the CIA to vet his script for the Benghazi movie 13 Hours, and how his request to film the

‘We are Anxious to tell this Story that Showcases the Army in such a Positive Way’

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

Spy Culture Certified by American Journal of Economics and Sociology

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 arti

The FBI and DEA Spy on Hollywood Producers

The relationship between intelligence agencies and the entertainment industry is complex and multi-faceted.  Angles include the influence of the agencies on their own public image, the influence of entertainment on the agencies, and intelligence-gathering by those agencies on the culture industry.

Q-Force, or How Queers Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Fascism

Netflix recently ordered a 10-episode first series of Q-Force, the world's first animated LGBTQ spy series.  Pitched as a 'gay James Bond' the cartoon will undoubtedly contain the usual PR for the security state, wrapped up in a rainbow flag.  No doubt

ClandesTime 181 – The Cinema of Iran-Contra

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.

‘A Complete Rewrite of the Storyline Would be Required’ – DOD File on The Presidio

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

ClandesTime 180 – The Politics of Monster Movies

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.

Forrest Gump – Tom Secker on Fortress on a Hill

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 ho

Why Did the Pentagon Support Godzilla and Transformers, but Rejected Jarhead?

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. 

ClandesTime 179 – The Philosophy and Politics of Superman

Superman is one of the world’s most recognisable cultural icons. A symbol of human idealism, he has been subject to a range of political and philosophical agendas over the last 80 years.

ClandesTime 178 – Black Panther vs Django Unchained

Black Panther and Django Unchained are perhaps the two most successful movies featuring black actors in lead roles that Hollywood has ever made. But are they as radical as they seem?

Watergate, the Mark Felt Biopic and the FBI

In my latest article for Shadowproof I examine the FBI's role in the Mark Felt biopic Mark Felt: The Man Who Brought Down the White House.  Using documents obtained under FOIA and an interview with Ed Gray, the son of FBI acting director Pat Gray (who is depicted in Mark Felt) I

The Pentagon Worked on Every Major Military Movie for Over a Decade After WW2

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 f

Pentagon Contracts Show US Army Subsidized Production Of National Geographic’s ‘Long Road Home’

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 H

Keanu Reeves Trains With Former SEAL/CIA Contractor for John Wick III

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 teach

‘All Assistance is Provided at No Cost to You’ – FBI Letter to Martin Scorcese

In late 2009 the FBI got wind of the fact that Martin Scorcese was developing The Wolf of Wall Street, about stock fraudster turned federal cooperator Jordan Belfort.  So the Bureau's Michael Kortan wrote to Scorcese to offer their help and supp

ClandesTime 174 – The Big Short vs Margin Call

The 2008 Wall Street crash has inspired little more than a staccato response from Hollywood, with very few films taking the subject seriously. In this episode I examine and review two of the more prominent movies that cover this topic – The Big Short and Margin Call.

Why the Pentagon Rejected Attack of the Killer Tomatoes

In early 1977 the producers of Attack of the Killer Tomatoes approached the Pentagon about filming a couple of brief scenes at National Guard armories.  Even though the National Guard Public Affairs staff thought it was a fun film and were happy to h

Spy Culture in Newsweek article on Captain Marvel

I was recently made aware of a Newsweek article on Captain Marvel that used this site as a source.  The article ‘Captain Marvel’ Latest Superhero Movie to Promote Air Force in Trend Stretching Back to Comics is one of several that highlight how the new MCU movie Captain Mar

How and Why the FBI Rewrite Hollywood Movies

Just like other government agencies the FBI are deeply involved in the entertainment industry, collaborating with film andTV producers to polish the Bureau’s public imageand project their messaging into the minds of moviegoers.

FBI Apparently Had No Problem with ‘Deep State’ Storyline in Shooter

Compared to the DOD, the US intelligence agencies support a more politically diverse range of movies, from the hi-tech surveillance thriller Enemy of the State to torture porn like Zero Dark Thirty and Unthinkable.  One such controversial movie was Shooter, which depicts a deep state element framing a Vietnam veteran fo

DOD Accidentally Release Social Security Numbers for Executive Decision Stars

The Department of Defense's entertainment liaison office file on the 1996 thriller Executive Decision was, for many years, secreted in a private archive in a library in Georgetown.