Alan Macleod on the War in Afghanistan and its influence on Hollywood

It’s common(ish) knowledge that the MCU has heavy affiliations with the US military with Iron Man (2008) needing approval from the Pentagon on scripting and plots in exchange for locations, equipment, money, and props. All in the name of war propaganda against the Middle East and Asia. Alan Mcleod expanded on this subject for Mint Press News:

If the occupation [of Afghanistan] was so unpopular and weak, how was it able to last so long? The Afghanistan Papers — a trove of military documents leaked to The Washington Post — showed that high-ranking government officials knew that the war was unwinnable but were openly lying to the public about how it was going, all while NGOs and military contractors made billions. 

But documents obtained by journalist Tom Secker under the Freedom of Information Act and shared with MintPress also show that Hollywood also played a significant role, knowingly collaborating with the Pentagon to produce pro-war propaganda about Afghanistan, ultimately helping to artificially buoy public opinion on the unwinnable campaign. This typically included giving the Pentagon direct editorial control over scripts and even removing any anti-war content or scenes that would show the military in a negative light. In exchange, the military offered its human resources, its bases as locations for filming, and its wide range of hi-tech vehicles to be used in movies. This quid pro quo effectively turned much of Hollywood, and the entertainment industry more generally, into cheerleaders for imperialism. 

Mcleod looks primarily at films outside the MCU such as 12 Strong, Lone Survivor, and Charlie Wilson’s War but its the section on Iron Man that really boiled my blood:

The original “Iron Man” script was decidedly pacifist, with protagonist Tony Stark attempting to use his enormous manufacturing empire to battle against war profiteers and the military industrial complex. However, after the Pentagon got involved, with Philip Strub again acting as the military liaison, the tone of the movie was radically altered. Much of the fighting in the movie takes place in modern-day Afghanistan, with the U.S. military serving the role of the good guys. In this sense, the film’s stance on war was reversed.

In exchange, the production agreement notes that the military would allow the movie to be shot at Edwards Air Force Base, just north of Los Angeles; provide “approximately 150 extras at Edwards AFB to play military members from various services and Afghan nationals;” help produce around 100 uniforms; and provide the opportunity to use a range of expensive aircraft.

My privileged anger is misguided and maybe even a little naïve but damnit, I liked Iron Man. At least we got Jeff Bridges as Obadiah Stane.

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