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Imagination Connoisseur, Anand Gonsalves, doesn’t agree that all Hollywood films that depict the military are pro-military propaganda. In fact, even when the military is involved in making the films, the storylines aren’t always complimentary.

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Greetings Rob,

A few weeks ago, you read an article about Hollywood films as propaganda for the U.S. military. Aside from missing Hollywood productions that explicitly criticize the U.S. military, the article misses that even the productions that the U.S. military directly supports present more thought and nuance about the military than propaganda would.

The key distinction is that propaganda would say that military action is good depending on who does it (the good guys or the bad guys), whereas the productions I’m about to mention concerned themselves with the values that makes military action good or bad.

Two examples are the TV shows Stargate SG-1 and The Last Ship. The U.S. Air Force (USAF) supported the former and the U.S. Navy (USN) supported the latter.

The premise of Stargate SG-1 is that the USAF obtains a device called a “stargate” that links to other stargates in the galaxy, allowing for instantaneous transport. The USAF forms the Stargate Program and, while using it, encounter a hostile alien race that they scramble to defend themselves from. The show on multiple occasions deals with parts of the USAF that want to steal technology from allies or appropriate incomprehensible alien technology.

These people are just as much part of the military as our heroes, but the show unambiguously demonstrates working with your allies and patiently building technological understanding as good and beneficial.

In The Last Ship, the world’s economy and governments collapse after a deadly viral outbreak and the last USN ship carries the materials needed to create a cure. That show dealt with corrupt U.S. political and military authority figures that crept up post-outbreak. The fact that they were American didn’t make their actions good or bad, but the authoritarian values they expressed did.

It is clear that some films are straight military propaganda like the article said. However, even when the military is directly involved, Hollywood can produce more nuanced and thoughtful entertainment.

For the record, I’m Canadian. My comments don’t come from any nationalistic attachment to the U.S. military. I’m just highlighting some facts that I think the article overlooked.