While election fever still rages in the United States, talk of rigging or meddling in the democratic process is reaching new levels, high enough that even Hollywood legend Angelina Jolie is talking about. In an extraordinary interview with Time The magazine, ‘Wanted, Maleficent and Lara Croft: Tomb Raider’ star, spoke to former head of UK spy ring MI6, Sir Alex Younger, to ask how serious the Russian or Chinese threat is. really worrying.
“Russia feels threatened by the quality of our alliances and, even in the current environment, by the quality of our democratic institutions. He intends to denigrate them and uses the intelligence services for this purpose. This is a serious problem and we must organize ourselves to prevent it, ”the British ghost told the actress.
Younger also discussed the rise of China and how the West must act to challenge the perceived threat from Beijing. “We’re going to have two very different value systems operating on the same planet for the foreseeable future. We must not be naive. We have to keep the ability to defend ourselves, ”he told Jolie.
Never defying him, Jolie even asked the head of perhaps the world’s most notorious spy agency how we can protect ourselves from fake news.
To some, the pairing of a Hollywood star and a veteran spy master may seem odd. But, in reality, the big screen and the state of national security have always been intimately linked. And even though Jolie presents herself as a top humanitarian, even being named Special Envoy of the United Nations Commission on Refugees, she has spent an inordinate amount of her free time dealing with some of the world’s worst human rights violations. .
On World Refugee Day in 2005, Jolie shared a scene with then-US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice. Rice was a key player in the Bush administration, responsible for the invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq, two of the world’s worst humanitarian and refugee crises that continue to plague the planet to this day.
Jolie herself slowly became a leading member of the U.S. national security apparatus, joining the influential and well-endowed think tank of the Council on Foreign Relations in 2007, and writing a joint editorial in The New York Times with John McCain two years ago calling for US intervention in Syria and Myanmar. “Around the world, there is a deep concern that America is abandoning the mantle of world leadership,” they dubiously asserted, decrying the “steady decline of America over the past decade” which has “Dangerously eroded the rule of law” and condemned the Trump administration’s inaction in Syria that could “deter mass atrocities” and reduce the refugee crisis.
Jolie’s collaboration with senior government officials is not limited to her personal life, however. The 45-year-old Californian has also worked closely and openly with CIA officials in her films. A typical example is the 2010 blockbuster Salt, where Jolie plays a CIA agent accused of being a Russian spy. The film was released concurrently with the real-life Anna Chapman scandal, where the Russian national was caught spying for her country in the United States, and marked the start of the hardening of American relations with Moscow, culminating in to the point where some have declared the start of a new cold war.
“Salt was the first major cultural product to reflect this geopolitical shift, for most of the 2000s Hollywood was not interested in bad Russians, ”said Tom Secker, investigative reporter at SpyCulture.com MintPress. “If you watch the movie, the Russian politicians are clearly based on Vladimir Putin and Dmitry Medvedev.”
“We’ve talked to a lot of women in the CIA,” Jolie said of her experiences preparing for her role. She seemed to have nothing but admiration for the organization; “One after another it’s just these lovely, sweet women that you can’t imagine being put in a dangerous situation, but they really are,” she added. Salt even hired a former CIA officer to be a technical advisor on set.
A CIA document Secker shared with MintPress highlights the extent of the CIA’s involvement in Hollywood and their reasons for doing so. “In an effort to ensure a true portrayal of the men and women of the CIA,” it read. “For years, the agency has worked with creative artists in the entertainment industry. [The CIA Office of Public Affairs] interacts with directors, producers, screenwriters, writers, documentarists, actors and others to help debunk myths and provide authenticity, and of course to protect the actions of the Agency, ”he adds. But perhaps the most important reason given is “to help prevent inappropriate negative portrayals of the Agency” in the mass media.
Large scale propaganda
The level of state involvement in Salt is far from abnormal. In fact, Alford and Secker’s book “National Security Cinema” details how, since 2005, the documents they obtained show that the Department of Defense alone has been closely involved in the production of over 1,000 films. or TV shows. This includes many of the biggest movie franchises, such as “Iron Man”, “Transformers”, “James Bond” and “Mission: Impossible”, as well as hit TV shows like “The Biggest Loser”, “Grey’s Anatomy ”,“ Master Chef ”and“ The price is right ”.
In general, the military or the CIA will offer free services to productions, such as the use of prohibitively expensive military equipment, or technical direction, in exchange for editorial control over the scripts. This allows agencies to ensure that the power, prestige and integrity of these organizations are not undermined. Sometimes entire films are drastically rewritten.
“The Department of Defense apologized in its cover letter to the producers of ‘Hulk’ (2003) because the changes needed were so important,” said Dr Matthew Alford of the University of Bath. MintPress.
But what’s really disturbing here is the model and the scale… What I’m suggesting is that we focus on the deliberate, major and covert pressures that rewrite the scripts – and we find that they are. all on the side of the national security state. A century of military history has been systematically erased from the screen, including war crimes, illegal arms sales, racism and sexual assault, torture, coups, assassinations and guns. mass destruction. This is tantamount to airbrushing an entire high profile culture.
Thus, the vast majority of big-budget productions featuring military or intelligence services received the green light from the National Security State, which negotiated for control of the message to better do propaganda at the same time. Americans and the global public. However, serious anti-war content rarely makes it onto network TV or Hollywood drawing boards, so large-scale interference is usually unnecessary.
In 2014, former CIA Deputy Legal Counsel or Acting General Counsel John Rizzo wrote that his organization “has long enjoyed a special relationship with the entertainment industry, devoting considerable attention to promoting relationships with the entertainment industry. actors of the Hollywood scene – studio executives, producers, directors, famous actors. Many of America’s best-known faces have visited the organization’s headquarters in Langley, Virginia, including Will Smith, Robert De Niro, Mike Myers, Bryan Cranston, and Tom Cruise.
In recent years, the collaboration has become even more evident. The Ministry of Defense itself tweeted during the Oscars how proud he is to work so closely with Hollywood to promote his own image.
Meanwhile, the latest series of the hit spy show “Jack Ryan”, for example, takes the eponymous CIA hero to Venezuela to help overthrow tyrannical dictator Nicolas Reyes (a clear allusion to the current president Nicolas Maduro). John Krasinski, who plays Ryan, said he worked closely with the Agency to make the show more realistic. Krasinski also described the CIA as surprisingly “apolitical”. “They always try to do the right thing,” he said of them, saying they “care about the country in a broader and more idealistic way”.
Last month, a real CIA agent, Matthew John Heath, was arrested outside Venezuela’s largest oil refinery carrying explosives, a grenade launcher, a machine gun and stacks of US dollars.
“Hollywood is probably full of CIA agents and we just don’t know it. And I wouldn’t be at all surprised to find out that this was extremely common, ”“ Batman ”star Ben Affleck said in 2012, before going on to describe himself, perhaps jokingly, as a CIA agent. himself.
Years of propaganda have had the effect of improving the status of the deep state and making American public opinion more conducive to supporting the tactics of the CIA and the military. A university study found that showing torture scenes from the hit spy series “24” to liberal students made them much more likely to support its use against anyone considered an enemy of the state.
The opinion of Democratic voters about the FBI has grown steadily over the past decade, to the point that 77% have a favorable opinion of the institution (and nearly two-thirds of the country support the CIA).
So while the entertainment industry may be liberal in that it largely opposes Trump and donates to the Democratic Party, it works closely to support and defend the state of national security, promotes the ultra-patriotism and American aggression around the world. While Jolie may present herself as a champion of human rights, working with the very institutions responsible for destroying human rights around the world undermines this claim.
Alan macleod is a writer for MintPress News. After completing his doctorate in 2017, he published two books: Bad News From Venezuela: Twenty Years of Fake News and Misreporting and Propaganda in the Information Age: Still Manufacturing Consent. He has also contributed to Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting, The Guardian, Salon, The Grayzone, Jacobin Magazine, Common Dreams, the American Herald Tribune and The Canary.
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