Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
Movies Advertising Government The Military Technology

The Price of Military Tech Assistance In Movies 212

Posted by Soulskill
from the as-american-as-propaganda-pie dept.
derekmead writes "Last week at Camp David, President Obama met up with fellow NATO leaders to discuss the road ahead in Afghanistan. Although no one there used the language of defeat, the implicit message was clear: the war has gone nowhere in the past few years and it's time to start packing up. Meanwhile, what raked in $25.5 million at the box office? Battleship. And who provided director Peter Berg with the war technology that beats the aliens? The U.S. military. He's not the only one: the past few years have seen an explosion of high-profile cooperation between the armed forces and the movie industry. If the most powerful armed force in history isn't winning in reality, it certainly is on the big screen. And like so many problematic aspects of late capitalism, the military-Hollywood complex has a grimly understandable logic."
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

The Price of Military Tech Assistance In Movies

Comments Filter:
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday May 22, 2012 @09:42PM (#40082877)

    Do editors here do any proofreading at all, whatsoever? Irrelevant statements, useless commentary, and almost no coherant point of the headline.

    No wonder people are leaving this site in droves. Slashdot = the myspace of tech sites.

    • Not even sure exactly what the summary was about. Something about a shitty movie and a shitty war still going on.

    • by causality (777677) on Tuesday May 22, 2012 @10:15PM (#40083047)

      Do editors here do any proofreading at all, whatsoever? Irrelevant statements, useless commentary, and almost no coherant point of the headline.

      No wonder people are leaving this site in droves. Slashdot = the myspace of tech sites.

      Oh I do agree with you and I've been here for years, long since before registering my account (I had another account prior to it, and prior to that I lurked).

      I come here because I can directly contact individuals who can reason and think critically. I can also directly contact petty spiteful people who are easily revealed to be what they are. Both are good when handled correctly. I also come here because I can listen, read, and learn from people who have knowledge that I do not. I find that if I am at least slightly thoughtful and write well, I am modded up; if I am not, someone will speak up and tell me precisely where I failed. Both are good when handled correctly.

      It is the users who make this site what it is. It is not the editors. They are not worthy to be called "editors" because they cannot even handle automated spell-checkers, let alone true proofreading. They would not last one day working for a tabloid -- they would be fired for incompetence and underwhelming performance. This site succeeds in spite of their stumbling, comic, pathetic attempt to master their native language.

      I could personally do a much, MUCH better job than a dozen of them. I could do that with no serious effort. In this job market, I am hardly alone in that sense. I wonder if they appreciate the cushy job they can so thoroughly fail to do day after day with no serious consequence? I mean their idea of a "job consequence" is using their infinite mod points to down-mod posts that criticize them too heavily. It's a coin toss whether or not this one gets their attention, for they may be asleep at the wheel.

      If they think I speak falsely, I hereby invite them to post with their own accounts and confront me, like men. I will have a multitude of previous examples to justify my position. They aren't going to say a damned thing against me because they know this is easy to find.

    • by sco08y (615665)

      Do editors here do any proofreading at all, whatsoever? Irrelevant statements, useless commentary, and almost no coherant point of the headline.

      No wonder people are leaving this site in droves. Slashdot = the myspace of tech sites.

      Hey now, it takes real editorial genius to come up with the "from foo department" jokes.

    • by b4dc0d3r (1268512)

      No, they don't. The summary posted looks to be a copy and paste job, as you can see by the "derekmead writes" intro and the blockquote around it. So derekmead is to blame for the terrible summary. The choice to post it we can blame on Soulskill, but I would not call Soulskill an editor. The opposite, actually, a non-editor.

      I try to save the "editorializing" complaints for the stuff after the quoted material, when the non-editor decides to add their opinions to the submission.

  • Abbot and Costello? (Score:5, Informative)

    by mykepredko (40154) on Tuesday May 22, 2012 @09:43PM (#40082881) Homepage

    Skipping over the editorializing in the summary, I would like to point out that the Military using Hollywood for promotion is not a recent occurence.

    It should be noted that Abbot and Costello's "Buck Privates" was used to help spur enlistment.

    As was "The Green Berets".

    As was "Top Gun".

    As was a number of other films (these three jump out at me as being some of the best examples).

    myke

    • by Tanktalus (794810) on Tuesday May 22, 2012 @09:55PM (#40082949) Journal
      Heck, I read all about this YEARS ago in that trusty old reference, The Bathroom Reader. Not sure which edition - I have probably about ten of them. :-)
    • by westlake (615356) on Tuesday May 22, 2012 @10:27PM (#40083103)

      Skipping over the editorializing in the summary, I would like to point out that the Military using Hollywood for promotion is not a recent occurence.

      It dates back to the very beginning of motion ptctures:

      [in 1899] the limitations of film equipment prevented the filming of actual battles, so Edison offered reenactments of the fighting made for the most part in New Jersey using National Guard troops. Film reenactments such as "Shooting Captured Insurgents " showed Spanish soldiers killing Cuban prisoners, while "U.S. Infantry Supported by Rough Riders at El Caney" and "Skirmish of Rough Riders" offered patriotic glimpses of the popular Rough Riders fighting.

      The War in Cuba [loc.gov]

    • As was a number of other films (these three jump out at me as being some of the best examples).

      John Wayne, Audie Murphy, Ronald Reagan, Major General (Ret.) Jimmy Stewart. Hell...we could probably go back to 1916 and Lon Chaney Sr., in If My Country Should Call.

      What a BS submission.
    • by R3d M3rcury (871886) on Wednesday May 23, 2012 @01:34AM (#40084153) Journal

      It is interesting to read about some of this stuff, though.

      For example, the US Military declined to assist the film Apocalypse Now [imdb.com] , the Philippine government did and they had plenty of old helicopters. The US Air Force did not provide assistance for the film Iron Eagle [imdb.com] because the characters hack into Air Force computers. However, the Israeli Air Force had no problem helping out and they had plenty of F-16s. The US Military would not assist in Independence Day [imdb.com] unless they removed all references to Area 51. [imdb.com] And the US Military was glad to help out with the movie Stripes [imdb.com], much to Ivan Reitman's surprise [imdb.com], because while some characters are buffoons, the lead characters all become successes after joining the Army.

    • It's not just Hollywood, either. There have been a few segments on Top Gear (UK) that are blatantly just recruitment drives for the Army.
    • by tlhIngan (30335)

      Not to mention that Hollywood pays their way - military assistance is paid for completely by Hollywood and that includes wear and tear on equipment, fuel, personnel, etc.

      The only thing DoD does is approve use of personnel and equipment for that purpose (or not) and determine schedule of rates to charge out. Reasons to deny have included national security, they have doubts the film will do well, they don't like the premise of the film, etc.

      Especially when the fancy new equipment rolling off the line is shown

  • by mveloso (325617) on Tuesday May 22, 2012 @09:43PM (#40082885)

    The poster is trolling on a lot of levels. Late capitalism?

    Anyway, as usual, the war itself went great - it was the peace that was the problem.

    • Anyway, as usual, the war itself went great - it was the peace that was the problem.

      I'm really curious as to how you define the situation in Afghanistan as "peace."

      • by causality (777677)

        Anyway, as usual, the war itself went great - it was the peace that was the problem.

        I'm really curious as to how you define the situation in Afghanistan as "peace."

        It isn't obvious to you?

        The way I saw it, he was talking about the reason why the situation in Afghanistan is so violent. If peace is the "problem" the violence is the "solution". That's the problem. In other words, the addictive part of war is that it is so good for the economy and the people who most influence the economy do not personally fight wars

        The military-industrial complex needs enemies. If it does not have them, it will demand that they be found. If they cannot be found, they must be m

        • The way I saw it, he was talking about the reason why the situation in Afghanistan is so violent.

          I think you're giving him way too much credit.

      • The proper term would be nation-building. The problem with both Afghanistan and Iraq is that the period after the war was half-assed. Either we should have gone in and wrecked EVERYBODY remotely connected to our enemies in the area, then pulled out, or gone in as we did and then settled down for some SERIOUS nation-building. Which realistically takes a minimum of 20 years and a fuckload more resources than were put into either Afghanistan or Iraq.

        • The problem with both Afghanistan and Iraq is that the period after the war was half-assed.

          The point is that talking about "after the war" is meaningless in Iraq and (particularly) Afghanistan. The war in Afghanistan is still going on, and the situation in Iraq is best described as a poorly enforced cease-fire.

          Wars don't end when people say, "Hooray, the war is over!" They end when large bodies of armed men stop trying to kill each other. That hasn't happened in either place, and it won't for the foreseeable future.

        • The time for nation building in Afghanistan was at the end of the Cold War, back when America was seen as a liberator. Abandoning the country as soon as it stopped being a valuable short-term ally made the USA an easy target for negative propaganda. It looks like the rush to 'bring our boys home' is going to cause the same mistake to be repeated in Iraq...
  • capitalism (Score:4, Funny)

    by epyT-R (613989) on Tuesday May 22, 2012 @09:45PM (#40082899)

    what does this have to do with capitalism? I hate it when people don't have the discipline to leave their own biases out of objective writing formats like summaries.

    • by KH2002 (547812)

      what does this have to do with capitalism?

      Actually, he said "late capitalism," apparently as a Marx-affirming flourish. Problem is, 20 years post-USSR, this comes off more like a Marxist version of the Black Knight from Monty Pythom & The Holy Grail... "It's only a flesh wound!"

  • by Shavano (2541114) on Tuesday May 22, 2012 @09:52PM (#40082929)

    The USA spends close to a million dollars per soldier per year. The enemy has to spend maybe 5% of that per "enemy combatant" at most. Probably a lot less. To field a force that would be numerically equal to our forces would cost them maybe $50 million. They'd need a lot more than that to defeat us in battles, because our side is better armed. But this is not about battles. There have been very few battles. In this kind of war, the resistance avoids direct confrontations and chooses to strike where and when its forces can do the most damage to the stronger side -- or just make them look ineffective. Most of the American forces are busy trying to protect every place where the enemy might strike. It's extremely inefficient. So the Taliban only needs a small fraction of our forces to keep the Americans busy -- and going broke.

    Basically, this kind of war is not winnable in a traditional sense. The resistance can carry on with a small number of soldiers and on a shoestring budget almost indefinitely.

    That's not to say that guerilla forces can't be defeated. They can be, if the populace cooperates with the central government to deny them aid, deny them new soldiers and help ferret them out -- and if the resistance doesn't have cooperative govenrments across the border.

    That's not the situation in Afghanistan, so it's highly questionable whether we can win at any cost.

    • by Shavano (2541114)

      Errm... It would cost the Taliban maybe 5 billion for the numerically equal force.

    • The best part is, many of those "enemy combatants" the Taliban doesn't even need to pay for nor train.
    • Basically, this kind of war is not winnable in a traditional sense. The resistance can carry on with a small number of soldiers and on a shoestring budget almost indefinitely.

      That's not to say that guerilla forces can't be defeated. They can be, if the populace cooperates with the central government to deny them aid, deny them new soldiers and help ferret them out -- and if the resistance doesn't have cooperative govenrments across the border.

      Reminds me of how people used to speak of Iraq - the coalition was losing an unwinnable war until the final bitter taste of victory.

    • by hey! (33014)

      It's not the asymmetry in tactics that makes a "war" like this unwinnable. It's the lack of any definition of "victory".

      In a traditional war, you win by seizing territory and national resources, forcing the leadership of the enemy to capitulate. In something like the Afghan War seizing territory and national resources is only the opening move. There is nothing left to seize. The enemy leadership is not going to capitulate because there's nothing they have, including their lives, that are seriously under t

    • The USA spends close to a million dollars per soldier per year.

      Closer to half that.

      1.46 million active-duty military, not counting Reservists who might be deployed.

      Only $740 billion in military budget....

  • by poity (465672) on Tuesday May 22, 2012 @10:03PM (#40082991)

    The author doesn't delve further into this assertion after that intro sentence, I wonder what that's all about? The rest of the article basically "reveals" the shocking truth that the military views media as a way to invest in its image (like every government, company, individual on the planet). It seems like he's grasping for dark villainy, but pulling back fistfuls of grey self-interest.

  • in Hollywood we get to enjoy the perceived benefits of total war, where we throw every weapon possible at the enemy without regard for making a lasting peace. i'm sure if razed Afghanistan with every weapon in our arsenal, we would have 'won' years ago, though people might be upset with the crater we left behind.
    • The problem with that war is that it never was about razing Afghanistan. Sure, the US military can do it, many times over, but that wasn't the goal. In fact, there wasn't any clear goal at all, other than some vague "war on terror". That kind of war is unwinnable by definition.

    • by u38cg (607297)
      If we treated Afghanistan as seriously as we treated WWII, we might have been able to finish the job properly in the same amount of time.
      • Learn some history. Afghanistan is in a state of more or less perpetual war. They have seen off British pacification attempts numerous times. Germany and Japan were organised societies with social structures which meant that they understood concepts like "losing a war". The inhabitants of Afghanistan and the Tribal Areas do not. They cannot surrender because there is no overarching authority who can tell people to stop shooting.

        As it was, the US defeated Japan but made a half-baked attempt to invade Europe,

        • by u38cg (607297)
          Afghanistan is not some magical place where the nature of humanity is different. Previous inroads have failed because no-one understood insurgency amongst near stone-age populations and was willing to commit the resources required. The Victorians had neither. The Russions had the resources but lacked understanding. The coalition has the understanding (achieved late, and at a price, but we know how to do it now), but is politically incapable of committing to it. Which is fine; I agree it's difficult to
  • by br00tus (528477) on Tuesday May 22, 2012 @10:12PM (#40083033)

    I'm typing this right now, and sending to a web server on the Internet, a computer network which only exists because the US taxpayer financed the Pentagon, who in turn gave the money to military contractors like BBN, SRI and so forth.

    That's what it is, and that's how it had to be. It's how Magnitogorsk was built in the USSR, how Volkswagen and the Autobahn were created in Germany, and how things like this happen here in the US and how they had to happen. There's some kind of emperor's new clothes things where people can't say the decades long creation of Internet was financed by the taxpayer via the government. I have heard so many US politicians talk about how the Internet was created by the "free market" (whatever that means), capitalism, private enterprise and so forth and how it shows the innovation that can come from that. Of course, we all know better, or at least those of us old enough to have owned 300 baud modems back in the early 1980s know that.

    While we hear from the news commissars and politicians of how broke the US is, with a huge deficit, and how we have to cut back, notice how a massive military bill just sailed through Congress. Americans have to tighten their belt, and go with less garbage pickups, or shorter library hours, and that sort of thing, but there's plenty of money for military bases in Djibouti and Bulgaria and Kyrgyzstan. The US is spending a ton of money to ramp up the US military presence in the Pacific (shades of the late 1930s), on a new class of aircraft carriers and so forth. Meanwhile, all of this heavy duty equipment is completely useless against small cells of anti-imperial Arab nationalists that are willing to go on suicide missions.

  • by BLKMGK (34057)

    How does a NATO meeting and a war in another country connect exactly with how the military handles movies? Could that have been stretched any further?

  • with the summary in the post, and I for one applaud it. How many times do we see posts about military tools / weapons / toys described without irony or critique - as if such things were normal and "OK"? People then post critiques in the comments, but this is dealing from a position of weakness - the assumption of the summary is the dominant discourse. It is a pleasure to finally see a summary state the obvious. While facts actually don't have a liberal bias, the contradictions of our present situation are s
  • Scratch (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Smiddi (1241326) on Tuesday May 22, 2012 @10:31PM (#40083127)
    It is two big American industries scratching each others backs. The average American young kid wont realise this until he gets back from his stint in Iraq, minus a limb.
  • Clearly, the DoD criteria for military movies don't include the movie making any sense. The U.S. Navy supported "Battleship".

    A Navy vs. aliens movie might make sense. "Battleship" isn't it. (It does beat "The Navy vs. the Night Monsters" (1966), but it cost about 100x as much to make.) One based on a board game is an indication that Hollywood really is out of ideas. They've already done all the fairy tales (there are two Snow White movies this year), all the top-tier comic book characters, many of the second-tier comic book characters, and have made sequels to almost everything that ever turned a profit. ("Police Academy 8" is in development.)

    • by jackbird (721605)

      Hey, Clue wasn't bad.

      And I could see Hungry Hungry Hippos being an awesome SyFy movie-of-the-week.

  • I attended a Comic-Con panel last year where some of the military liaisons to Hollywood talked about their jobs. They were pretty open about having criteria for accepting a script. It's not clear to me why anyone would expect them to spend time and money helping filmmakers portray them in an unflattering light. The article does give a couple odd examples of rejected films (Independence Day?), but aside from that seems to make a mountain out of a molehill.

    IIRC, the panelists said that the US military doesn't

  • I saw the movie TANK -- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tank_(film) [wikipedia.org] -- in the on-post movie theater at Ft. Hood, TX, which at the time was home to the world's largest concentration of tanks. And one of the most boring spots on this planet. Watching a theater full of young tank crew guys cheer this movie was a bit scary. How many of them would go back to their units and decide to take out a bar in Killeen (nearby town) where they'd been short-changed or something like that? Or maybe invade Mexico for the hell o

    • by Macrat (638047)

      I saw the movie TANK -- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tank_(film) [wikipedia.org] -- in the on-post movie theater at Ft. Hood, TX, which at the time was home to the world's largest concentration of tanks. And one of the most boring spots on this planet. Watching a theater full of young tank crew guys cheer this movie was a bit scary.

      People enjoying a movie about a father rescuing his son from a corrupt sheriff scares you?

  • There are two countries you don't invade:

    • Afghanistan
    • Russia

    The Germans, the French, the British, etc. But did the USA learn ANYTHING from this? No. Stupid USA.

  • Rihanna [pop star in her first lead movie role here] can make anything sexy - including militarism (also note the _Hard_ music video). This can be dangerous. :P
    some of the assistance had to do with helping her and the other actors/actresses get in character.
    Also, actual US Navy sailors were extras.

The bogosity meter just pegged.

Working...