The Pentagon Goes Hollywood

The Pentagon Goes Hollywood

Movies have counted on military support for years, but games don't need the help.

Read Full Article

"In other words, even the most jingoistic games criticize the military more than the blockbusters of 'liberal' Hollywood."

Brilliant, simply brilliant....

I'd been long aware of the connection between Hollywood and the U.S. military, but gaming's ability to buck the trend completely passed me by. Another great article.

I'd say it's culturally cyclical but the barrage out of liberal Hollywood never did stop.

Apocalypse Now. Platoon. Full Metal Jacket. Avatar. The Deer Hunter. Dr. Strangelove. The Road to Guantanamo. Jarhead. Born on the Fourth of July. Three Kings. In the Valley of Elah. Stop-Loss.

The list of anti-war/military/US films goes on and on. Those are just the military type films that come to mind, lets not even get started on the list of liberal political dramas, we'll be here all day. For modern production, if you want to use the military's staff and hardware for your movie, you dang well should give way to make them look good for their trouble. Don't like it, find your own dang tanks and choppers. It'd be pretty stupid to lend you their gear if all you are going to do is smack them in the face with it.

Totally right on the video games part. They don't need anyone's tanks or choppers.

Nicolaus99:

Totally right on the video games part. They don't need anyone's tanks or choppers.

I could see ARMA using them to try and get a better copy of real tanks and choppers by asking the military to borrow one for an afternoon, but that would require them not doing the morally grey aspect of the Military they're fond of.

Hazzard:

Nicolaus99:

Totally right on the video games part. They don't need anyone's tanks or choppers.

I could see ARMA using them to try and get a better copy of real tanks and choppers by asking the military to borrow one for an afternoon, but that would require them not doing the morally grey aspect of the Military they're fond of.

And then the devs get in trouble when they try and get the bradley IFV they were lent to do a j-turn and run over a guy.

Oh, don't give me that look; You and I both know the first thing anyone would do if given control of an armored vehicle is either try to crush something, or make it do wheelies.

Good for games, the less ass kissed the better.

Robert Rath:
In a strange coincidence, the film Zero Dark Thirty, which collaborated with Warfighter on a map pack, got swallowed up in the reevaluation as well. In ZDT's case, the popular controversy is whether the CIA obtained the nom de guerre of Bin Laden's courier via the use of torture as depicted in the film, or whether that was an invention by the filmmakers.

Except for the MINOR detail that the film did not depict that at all.

the only game genre that consistantly really does need access to military tech is the simulator market. you need the pilots, etc to make it feel right and having access to the real vehicles helps with modelling, etc

Nicolaus99:
I'd say it's culturally cyclical but the barrage out of liberal Hollywood never did stop.

Apocalypse Now. Platoon. Full Metal Jacket. Avatar. The Deer Hunter. Dr. Strangelove. The Road to Guantanamo. Jarhead. Born on the Fourth of July. Three Kings. In the Valley of Elah. Stop-Loss.

The list of anti-war/military/US films goes on and on. Those are just the military type films that come to mind, lets not even get started on the list of liberal political dramas, we'll be here all day. For modern production, if you want to use the military's staff and hardware for your movie, you dang well should give way to make them look good for their trouble. Don't like it, find your own dang tanks and choppers. It'd be pretty stupid to lend you their gear if all you are going to do is smack them in the face with it.

Totally right on the video games part. They don't need anyone's tanks or choppers.

I'd argue there's a difference between a film being anti-war versus being anti-military. Most of those films take a "War is a bad thing" approach, rather than "People who engage in war are bad" one. When's the last time you saw a movie hero portrayed as a absolute psychopath, like Reznov from World at War?

To my memory, films portray soldiers as ordinary people caught in the middle of a rock and a hard place, forced to make tough decisions. But only in game do you have characters shown as being people with questionable moral judgement, not just tactical. I really like that.

Robert Rath:
The Pentagon Goes Hollywood

Movies have counted on military support for years, but games don't need the help.

Read Full Article

To be fair, the Birth of a Nation was not divisive until several decades after it's release. In fact, the only riot which African American's caused in response to its release was due to the fact they were PREVENTED from entering a Boston cinema despite paying for tickets to witness the spectacle.

I'm a history major that wrote a paper on it. :p

Excellent article, well-written. Interesting you noted that even the "oorah" videogames show the gray-side of the US military.

Am curious as to whether other countries' militaries have as close a relationship with entertainment. In Canada we barely see much reference to the military in mainstream media, other than the odd character whom is mentioned to have been in JTF2 (and you can count the number of that on one hand)

Does the UK's own military have that deep a link as the Pentagon does? What about non NATO countries?

DVS BSTrD:
Good for games, the less ass kissed the better.

Robert Rath:
In a strange coincidence, the film Zero Dark Thirty, which collaborated with Warfighter on a map pack, got swallowed up in the reevaluation as well. In ZDT's case, the popular controversy is whether the CIA obtained the nom de guerre of Bin Laden's courier via the use of torture as depicted in the film, or whether that was an invention by the filmmakers.

Except for the MINOR detail that the film did not depict that at all.

What are you saying? That the film did not depict torture at all? Have you seen it? It depicted torture. Or were you intending this to be a commentary on the question of whether or not the film endorses torture because the very article you cited points out that the film can easily be misinterpreted that way (and I actually don't think the anti-torture stance is as obvious as Bob says it is. It's pretty subtle and can be easily missed, which is a flaw in his argument). Either way, it doesn't undermine Rath's original point, which is that, if the Pentagon had had a hand in the film, Zero Dark Thirty would not have come out the way it did (I'm guessing we would have most likely seen a film that left torture out entirely).

Showing the "gray area" in the chosen medium isn't really much of an excuse to just lay back and accept what we are watching/playing is nothing more than "war fetishism".

The old standard that we're used to with games being "authentic" with their military parts; vehicles weapons and so forth -- is just that, an old standard we "accepted as normal". Something new on the horizon that has me thoroughly disturbed is the sudden onslaught of what I call "drone propaganda". Drones are not widespread right now, but they are in certain theatres of "undeclared war". However we have games, especially Call of Duty e.g., glorifying the use of drones even in a domestic setting. We're seeing it a lot in movies lately as well.

I don't want to live in a world where people passively accept something like drones, which by the way has a 2% "success rate" where they are used; in Pakistan e.g. What that actually means, is that 98% of the time they are killing someone other than their intended target, which means civilians or "collateral". It's not an exaggeration, you may look this up for yourself.

Some call it a gray area. I say it's just dark.

Robert Rath:
You, as a viewer, have been a beneficiary of this relationship in... Battleship.

I'm really not sure Battleship can be counted as a benefit.

nexus:
Showing the "gray area" in the chosen medium isn't really much of an excuse to just lay back and accept what we are watching/playing is nothing more than "war fetishism".

The old standard that we're used to with games being "authentic" with their military parts; vehicles weapons and so forth -- is just that, an old standard we "accepted as normal". Something new on the horizon that has me thoroughly disturbed is the sudden onslaught of what I call "drone propaganda". Drones are not widespread right now, but they are in certain theatres of "undeclared war". However we have games, especially Call of Duty e.g., glorifying the use of drones even in a domestic setting. We're seeing it a lot in movies lately as well.

I don't want to live in a world where people passively accept something like drones, which by the way has a 2% "success rate" where they are used; in Pakistan e.g. What that actually means, is that 98% of the time they are killing someone other than their intended target, which means civilians or "collateral". It's not an exaggeration, you may look this up for yourself.

Some call it a gray area. I say it's just dark.

You are misreading news that is trying to be sensational. 2% are militant leaders, in 2004-2007 more civilians were killed than militants, and in every year after a tonne more militants than civilians leading to a total average (including 2004-2007) of 85% death rate of militants.
Here is teh sensational article: http://www.motherjones.com/mojo/2011/01/military-drone-afghan-success-rate-uav
Here is the ACTUAL REPORT by the New America Foundation: http://counterterrorism.newamerica.net/drones
Almost nothing the motherjones article reflects the actual research, I'd suggest going ot the NAF page and going to he very bottom where they compile all the different number together. One thing motherjones suggest is that only 25% of those hit are militants, which they did by taking the raw numbers at the top of the page regarding the lowest limit exstimate and ignoring the figured out percentages at the bottom which takes into acount the lowest AND highest limit estimates.
Also, the whole study is based around figures in news sources. For all we know, those numbers are completely wrong/different from reality. So that's another point which could either make drones more or less accurate and we would never know.

This is what happens when people use corporate news and conspiracy site for their information instead of going to the actual reports by governments, NGOs, policy groups, and think tanks.

nexus:
Showing the "gray area" in the chosen medium isn't really much of an excuse to just lay back and accept what we are watching/playing is nothing more than "war fetishism".

The old standard that we're used to with games being "authentic" with their military parts; vehicles weapons and so forth -- is just that, an old standard we "accepted as normal". Something new on the horizon that has me thoroughly disturbed is the sudden onslaught of what I call "drone propaganda". Drones are not widespread right now, but they are in certain theatres of "undeclared war". However we have games, especially Call of Duty e.g., glorifying the use of drones even in a domestic setting. We're seeing it a lot in movies lately as well.

I don't want to live in a world where people passively accept something like drones, which by the way has a 2% "success rate" where they are used; in Pakistan e.g. What that actually means, is that 98% of the time they are killing someone other than their intended target, which means civilians or "collateral". It's not an exaggeration, you may look this up for yourself.

Some call it a gray area. I say it's just dark.

Hey there, thanks for commenting. I actually already wrote a Critical Intel about how games depict drone warfare - overall they're pretty critical of it, actually. Here's the article, Killer Robots and Collateral Damage.

I also did pretty substantial research on militant/civilian casualty rates by drone, and can't find numbers to corroborate the 2% figure you've quoted. However, an entire section of the Critical Intel I've linked deals with civilian casualties.

anteater123:

DVS BSTrD:
Good for games, the less ass kissed the better.

Robert Rath:
In a strange coincidence, the film Zero Dark Thirty, which collaborated with Warfighter on a map pack, got swallowed up in the reevaluation as well. In ZDT's case, the popular controversy is whether the CIA obtained the nom de guerre of Bin Laden's courier via the use of torture as depicted in the film, or whether that was an invention by the filmmakers.

Except for the MINOR detail that the film did not depict that at all.

What are you saying? That the film did not depict torture at all? Have you seen it? It depicted torture. Or were you intending this to be a commentary on the question of whether or not the film endorses torture because the very article you cited points out that the film can easily be misinterpreted that way (and I actually don't think the anti-torture stance is as obvious as Bob says it is. It's pretty subtle and can be easily missed, which is a flaw in his argument). Either way, it doesn't undermine Rath's original point, which is that, if the Pentagon had had a hand in the film, Zero Dark Thirty would not have come out the way it did (I'm guessing we would have most likely seen a film that left torture out entirely).

The point being made is it depicts that torture happened, but it does not say that torture gave them the evidence they needed. its a small, and as you noted, easilly missed distinction that the main article misses.

Its like in modern warfare, the torture of Al Assad does not, ultimately, give the main characters the information they need. they get it instead from an unexpected call to their prisoners mobile.

Windknight:

anteater123:

DVS BSTrD:
Good for games, the less ass kissed the better.
Except for the MINOR detail that the film did not depict that at all.

What are you saying? That the film did not depict torture at all? Have you seen it? It depicted torture. Or were you intending this to be a commentary on the question of whether or not the film endorses torture because the very article you cited points out that the film can easily be misinterpreted that way (and I actually don't think the anti-torture stance is as obvious as Bob says it is. It's pretty subtle and can be easily missed, which is a flaw in his argument). Either way, it doesn't undermine Rath's original point, which is that, if the Pentagon had had a hand in the film, Zero Dark Thirty would not have come out the way it did (I'm guessing we would have most likely seen a film that left torture out entirely).

The point being made is it depicts that torture happened, but it does not say that torture gave them the evidence they needed. its a small, and as you noted, easilly missed distinction that the main article misses.

Its like in modern warfare, the torture of Al Assad does not, ultimately, give the main characters the information they need. they get it instead from an unexpected call to their prisoners mobile.

I actually disagree with your assessment of ZDT. By my view - which I'm fully prepared to admit is not definitive in any way - the film is not pro-torture but it does make it intentionally ambiguous whether torture "works." i.e. Though they obtain that information through trickery, it's also intimated that trickery wouldn't have worked without the preceding torture. (Just as a small point, when the detainee begins giving them information and seems reticent, they threaten him with torture again in order to extract further information, at which point he continues.) One of the things at issue is that in the actual interrogation this section of the film is based on, some reports claim the detainee in question gave up his information before being tortured.

So basically here's my read: Bigelow and Boal structured the scene in order to create ambiguity about whether the enhanced interrogation worked or not, but also fill the viewer with disgust over the methods the CIA used. The reason the entire controversy has legs is that this scene can be read multiple ways (like any good piece of filmmaking), and I suspect that this was done to promote discussion. Unfortunately that discussion has centered around whether the film got its facts straight rather than the more important issue of whether it's ethically right to use jurisdictional arbitration and dubious legal strategies in order to torture people.

But look, the point I'm making is less about the controversy itself - frankly I find the nitpicking on both sides isn't that interesting - and more about how the government has reacted to it, and the possibility that the CIA may have misled the filmmakers (in fact, the morning this column posted, Diane Feinstein suggested in the Brennan confirmation hearings that the CIA had lied to Congress on the efficacy of torture, so maybe they lied to Bigelow and Boal as well). Talking about whether a movie is historically "true" or not is frankly a losing proposition in itself - movies are an artistic medium, and despite what ZDT's filmmakers may have claimed in publicity interviews any factual accuracy it contains, no matter how well-researched, is always going to be built onto an imaginative framework. That's just the nature of the medium.

I wasn't endorsing one side of the controversy or the other by referring to it that way. To some people, "whether the CIA obtained the nom de guerre of Bin Laden's courier via the use of torture as depicted in the film" is an absolutely accurate statement of what the controversy is about. I just needed to reference the controversy in order to talk about the Intelligence Committee investigation and the possibility that the CIA may have misrepresented it. (For example, by a verbal dodge like saying "we tortured him and he gave up the name," rather than "he gave up the name then we tortured him." Remember that ZDT isn't "based on a true story," it's "based on firsthand accounts" - meaning it assumes the firsthand accounts were accurately presented).

So yes, I depicted the controversy in a way you don't agree with - but I don't agree with that position either. Remember what Kathryn Bigelow said: depiction is not endorsement. ;)

In regards to the original article, the military-Hollywood arrangement is not a first amendment issue. If you take their resources, they dictate how you use them. Want to tell a story they don't like? They're not giving you their stuff. Not sure why that it's even suggested that the 1st amendment is being thwarted.

What scares me is how vigorous and aggressive the military is over it's depiction. I'd like to think people form their own opinions based on sound research and thought but of course they don't, so I understand their concern. But punishing SEAL members for advising on a game? A game that is largely pro-military?

Look at Julian Assange. The information he released is fairly lame stuff. Yet the American government put a virtual fatwa out on him. Suddenly, dubious rape charges from years ago from Sweden suddenly appear. Senators were calling for a kill or capture order. There was more outcry to capture this one guy than the 50 Most Wanted terrorists who have actually killed people. All the attention shifted to his extradition and ignores the fact that the US government will seem to use any means of threat and intimidation to protect it's "secrets". Americans bang on about freedom of speech, then immediately set about attacking anyone who expresses an opinion it doesn't like. Anything left-wing gets labelled as some sort of liberal bias set to "undermine" the country (because that's what and why liberals do it, all plotting the downfall of republicans). Then on the otherside the republicans are painted as bigoted, religiously blinded, homophobic, racist nut-jobs. If anyone says anything worthwhile they get branded a traitor.

And this is what scares me. Why does the American government need to defend it's "secrets"? Sure, military equipment and patents are concern, but as the companies making this stuff make promotional videos on YouTube, I doubt that's what they're worried about. Current troop movements and numbers would be terrible as well, but none of concerns have anything to do with logistics.

That's not who they go after. They go after anyone critical of them.

And their justificaion is to hide secrets from "The enemy!" But who is that now? Terrorists, who's motivation for attacking America is revenge for their use and abuse in the cold war. But maybe now its revenge for the constant military barrage their countries suffer. Or maybe it's because America, the home of democracy and freedom, is desparately trying to rig the leadership of these countries to suit their needs? Why? So they can try make "the enemy" stop attacking them.

America constantly creates these "enemies" to promote the need to protect themselves. But, by and large, the reason they seem to have these enemies now is because of America doing the exact same thing for the last 60 years. Post Word War II they used communism for years to justify involvement in Guatamale, Iran, Vietnam, Cambodia, Cuba, Afghanistan. Legitimate or not the result has been a massive growth in anti-American feeling in those countries. Is it just me, or does nobody think it's crazy that the american military probably trained Osama Bin Laden to fight the Russians in Afghanistan?

I would have thought by now the average American would have said "No, we've had enough. We won't get involved. Anytime we get involved, we get blamed and people attack us". But I guess all those big American weapon manufacturers wouldn't sell much then. Don't forget, there are many other countries fighting alongside America right now, and very few of them garner as much hatred as the US does. Why is that? You have to ask yourself why does America have so many enemies? Why does it need to defend itself so fiercely? Why it's it's military so terrified of being depicted in any negative light?

Madness I tell you.

Machine Man 1992:
Oh, don't give me that look; You and I both know the first thing anyone would do if given control of an armored vehicle is either try to crush something, or make it do wheelies.

Wrong. I would crush things while doing a wheelie.

This is really damn good article. i'm surprised to see something like this on the escapist. keep em coming.

 

Reply to Thread

Log in or Register to Comment
Have an account? Login below:
With Facebook:Login With Facebook
or
Username:  
Password:  
  
Not registered? To sign up for an account with The Escapist:
Register With Facebook
Register With Facebook
or
Registered for a free account here