From Navy Seals trying to find a bearded ghost deep behind the Pakistani border, to Marines struggling to contain an alien threat off the shores of Los Angele’s, we have in no doubt been subjected to a wide range of America’s love affair with its military prowess along with the fantasy that the U.S military always wins; even if they are against extraterrestrial forces far superior to it.
Fun fact: America technically hasn’t won a war since World War II, yet the movies would make it seem and suggest that I am a total asshole for even uttering such a fact.
With the above said, the 2012 Hasbro inspired film Battleship falls among the ranks of Act of Valor, Battle: LA and Zero Dark Thirty. To not waste any time, the film was awful. Aside from the glittery CGI, Battleship sucked more than a Bangkok hooker on a Saturday night during shore leave. I was half expecting someone in the movie to yell out “You sunk my Battleship!”, yet that didn’t even happen. After watching half of the film, I kind of invited that idea since the film had more cheese in it to my likening and would have been absolutely appropriate and even entertaining at that point.
However, I should have not had my expectations high anyways going into the film since Rhianna was part of the cast. That alone should have been a red flag that Battleship was going to be a more regrettable watch equivalent to having gone back in time and bare witness to an elderly English couple having panic sex while the German Luftwaffe dropped bombs on England during WWII. At least Battle: LA had Michelle Rodriguez in the cast. I would rather watch her grip a M4A1 assault rifle and empty a clip into some alien scum rather than watch Rhianna try to look convincing while she mounts a turret gun attached to a naval dingy. Rodriguez also looks 100x’s better in ranger camouflage, just saying. Anyways, movies to the likes of Battleship aren’t meant to be good, they aren’t meant to have riveting plot-lines and deep character development. The honest truth is because they are nothing more than recruitment films for the armed forces used for the greater good of serving the empire that is America.
Collaboration between Hollywood and the military brass goes back to the 1920s, when the Pentagon assisted in the production of Wings, the first Best Picture Oscar-winner. The association between the studios and the armed forces has tossed and turned in the years since, but tends to get reacquainted in times of world strife. During World War II, for instance, the Department of Defense enlisted Hollywood as its virtual press representative using Disney as its main prostitute and bottom b*tch.
This ever-increasing synergy between Hollywood and the Pentagon led to the current Hollywood whoring we see today in which studios get to use taxpayer-subsidized military locations, paraphernalia, personnel, and expertise in exchange for giving the military script approval. In this unbalanced exchange of power, the studios get considerably reduced production budgets, while the Pentagon gets to exploit the power of cinema (and television) to advance a pro-war, pro-military agenda where Cineplex’s, 50 inch screens and PCs become virtual conscription offices. This is why we see such stupid and poorly put together movies like Battleship.
The Pentagon and its dealings go even deeper than Hollywood. It has its arms in news media as well. Operation “Mockingbird” used to be a theory amongst conspiracy analysts but is now historic fact. In the 1950’s the CIA launched this secret campaign to manipulate and influence media. The organization recruited leading American journalists into a network to help present the CIA’s views on everything from the economy, political parties, and war.
A prime example of this dynamic at work was last year’s Navy SEAL porn flick, Act of Valor, which hit theaters just a few months after SEAL Team Six assassinated the fabled Bin Laden. As a film drafted within the Pentagon and pitched to studios — an about face of standard operating practice — Act of Valor hails back to the days of World War II, when the military enlisted Hollywood in the production of naked propaganda. The film was received as the propaganda that it was since it was more obvious than Rhianna’s inability to act.
As for the film Battleship, U.S. Navy documents, acquired through a Freedom of Information Act request via Muckrock (where you can view them in their entirety), show that the Department of Defense’s decision to work with director Berg and Universal hinged on one main question: “Do we believe that [the movie] could have a positive impact on recruiting?” The Navy concluded yes, assertively declaring, “Battleship will certainly continue to be a conversation starter that carries our ‘brand’ to many Americans who aren’t familiar with their Navy.”
If studios are going to continue to get into bed with the armed forces then taxpaying moviegoers have a right to know when they are being bombarded with propaganda that they’ve fundamentally financed. This would be at most, a modest step toward greater transparency.