Why are the Pentagon and the CIA in Hollywood?

Tom Secker, Matthew Alford

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

The CIA and the U.S. Department of Defense are both engaged in programs to influence the content of movies produced by Hollywood studios. Although they claim their only purpose in these ventures is to guarantee the accuracy of how military and intelligence activities are conducted, it is clear that their agenda goes beyond that goal. Their true aims include ensuring that movies project a positive image of the relevant government agencies. However, the CIA and DoD differ in their understanding of what constitutes good publicity. Films scrutinized and supported by military agencies are primarily evaluated according to whether they provide a vehicle for showing the technical and organizational competence of the Pentagon. To that end, films based on comic book characters or extraterrestrial invaders are viewed positively because they show the war-fighting capacity of the military without having to name any actual enemy. The CIA, by contrast, prefers to support films that enable citizens to develop a stronger sense of patriotism in a world of moral ambiguities. As a result, the CIA is much less fearful of revealing the dark side of its undertakings, as long as a given movie presents a story that shows the value of the CIA in protecting the security of the nation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)381-404
Number of pages24
JournalAmerican Journal of Economics and Sociology
Volume76
Issue number2
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2017

Fingerprint

movies
Military
patriotism
publicity
government agency
guarantee
intelligence
citizen
Hollywood
Movies
Values

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Economics and Econometrics

Cite this

Why are the Pentagon and the CIA in Hollywood? / Secker, Tom; Alford, Matthew.

In: American Journal of Economics and Sociology, Vol. 76, No. 2, 01.03.2017, p. 381-404.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

@article{8a96ad14ca39478a97c38e35c9f1dfdd,
title = "Why are the Pentagon and the CIA in Hollywood?",
abstract = "The CIA and the U.S. Department of Defense are both engaged in programs to influence the content of movies produced by Hollywood studios. Although they claim their only purpose in these ventures is to guarantee the accuracy of how military and intelligence activities are conducted, it is clear that their agenda goes beyond that goal. Their true aims include ensuring that movies project a positive image of the relevant government agencies. However, the CIA and DoD differ in their understanding of what constitutes good publicity. Films scrutinized and supported by military agencies are primarily evaluated according to whether they provide a vehicle for showing the technical and organizational competence of the Pentagon. To that end, films based on comic book characters or extraterrestrial invaders are viewed positively because they show the war-fighting capacity of the military without having to name any actual enemy. The CIA, by contrast, prefers to support films that enable citizens to develop a stronger sense of patriotism in a world of moral ambiguities. As a result, the CIA is much less fearful of revealing the dark side of its undertakings, as long as a given movie presents a story that shows the value of the CIA in protecting the security of the nation.",
author = "Tom Secker and Matthew Alford",
year = "2017",
month = "3",
day = "1",
doi = "10.1111/ajes.12180",
language = "English",
volume = "76",
pages = "381--404",
journal = "American Journal of Economics and Sociology",
issn = "0002-9246",
publisher = "Wiley-Blackwell",
number = "2",

}

TY - JOUR

T1 - Why are the Pentagon and the CIA in Hollywood?

AU - Secker, Tom

AU - Alford, Matthew

PY - 2017/3/1

Y1 - 2017/3/1

N2 - The CIA and the U.S. Department of Defense are both engaged in programs to influence the content of movies produced by Hollywood studios. Although they claim their only purpose in these ventures is to guarantee the accuracy of how military and intelligence activities are conducted, it is clear that their agenda goes beyond that goal. Their true aims include ensuring that movies project a positive image of the relevant government agencies. However, the CIA and DoD differ in their understanding of what constitutes good publicity. Films scrutinized and supported by military agencies are primarily evaluated according to whether they provide a vehicle for showing the technical and organizational competence of the Pentagon. To that end, films based on comic book characters or extraterrestrial invaders are viewed positively because they show the war-fighting capacity of the military without having to name any actual enemy. The CIA, by contrast, prefers to support films that enable citizens to develop a stronger sense of patriotism in a world of moral ambiguities. As a result, the CIA is much less fearful of revealing the dark side of its undertakings, as long as a given movie presents a story that shows the value of the CIA in protecting the security of the nation.

AB - The CIA and the U.S. Department of Defense are both engaged in programs to influence the content of movies produced by Hollywood studios. Although they claim their only purpose in these ventures is to guarantee the accuracy of how military and intelligence activities are conducted, it is clear that their agenda goes beyond that goal. Their true aims include ensuring that movies project a positive image of the relevant government agencies. However, the CIA and DoD differ in their understanding of what constitutes good publicity. Films scrutinized and supported by military agencies are primarily evaluated according to whether they provide a vehicle for showing the technical and organizational competence of the Pentagon. To that end, films based on comic book characters or extraterrestrial invaders are viewed positively because they show the war-fighting capacity of the military without having to name any actual enemy. The CIA, by contrast, prefers to support films that enable citizens to develop a stronger sense of patriotism in a world of moral ambiguities. As a result, the CIA is much less fearful of revealing the dark side of its undertakings, as long as a given movie presents a story that shows the value of the CIA in protecting the security of the nation.

UR - http://www.scopus.com/inward/record.url?scp=85014739845&partnerID=8YFLogxK

UR - http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/ajes.12180

U2 - 10.1111/ajes.12180

DO - 10.1111/ajes.12180

M3 - Article

VL - 76

SP - 381

EP - 404

JO - American Journal of Economics and Sociology

JF - American Journal of Economics and Sociology

SN - 0002-9246

IS - 2

ER -