There is no doubt the Department of Defense (a.k.a. the Pentagon) has encouraged the militarization of popular culture and is pro-actively seeking further influence in Hollywood.
As the co-authors of National Security Cinema, we have become known — rather inaccurately — for encouraging two major ideas: 1. That the government is really important in making movies more militaristic. 2. That Hollywood doesn’t produce dissenting films. While the first of these is somewhat true it is a simplification, the second is a falsehood.
The government is involved in as wide a range of entertainment projects as you can imagine, from video games to chat shows to blockbusters to docudramas. While many of these were militaristic from conception, before the government got involved, there is no doubt the Department of Defense (a.k.a. the Pentagon) has encouraged the militarization of popular culture and is pro-actively seeking further influence in Hollywood.
However, we want to emphasize that government support is by no means a prerequisite for Hollywood making militaristic movies. The sub-genre we have proposed — “national security cinema” — does not necessarily require the involvement of the actual national security apparatus in the production process.
National Security Cinema — Beyond the Government
Some of the examples are truly striking. Consider Rambo III (1988), set in the Soviet war in Afghanistan. The film demonized the Soviets and depicted our allies of the time, the Islamic Mujahideen, as heroic — albeit wild and stupid (in keeping with long-standing Hollywood stereotypes about Arabs).
This portrait is consistent with other films set in that war both before and since, such as the James Bond movie The Living Daylights (1987) and Charlie Wilson’s War (2007). While Rambo III did technically receive some support from the State Department, this did not affect the script, and the film very much reflected US government policy on steroids.'
Read more: How War Propaganda in the Film Industry Really Works