How the military and Hollywood partner up to forward narratives


Look, I’m a sucker for many of these films. Top Gun for instance is still one of my favorite movies ever. I grew up with F-14s screaming over my head and the whine of a Tomcat banking before landing is a memory which sits (pleasantly) deep in my grey matter. The Hunt for Red October? Another classic. Red Dawn? Just great. But even as a kid I kind of wondered about how it was that the military and the Hollywood studios worked together. Now we know a little more about that relationship.

And because this post gives me an excuse to, I am going to post a few military movie “propaganda” clips.

The opening scene in Top Gun is a masterpiece. I ask you to imagine the impression this movie made on me, son of a Naval officer, growing up near NAS Oceana, at 11 years old. It still gives me a bit of a chill. It’s great right until the Kenny Loggins song kicks in.

Another classic clip. This time from “ode to the NRA” Red Dawn. A rescued colonel explains to the ragtag militia kids how it was that the Soviet Union invaded the Midwest.

And then this clip from Apocalypse Now. The military had to be in on the production of this anti-war movie and one wonders if the guys at the Pentagon actually read the script. It was the Carter years however and according to my high school history teacher practically the whole enlisted military was regularly smoking pot. So it was a different time.