Saturday, October 03, 2015

Propaganda & Pop Culture.

Comic-Strip Propaganda - Hit & Run : ""The U.S. government has a history of inserting propaganda into popular culture, sometimes overtly and sometimes behind the scenes. Comics historian Jeet Heer has dug up a particularly interesting example: Roy Crane's strip Buz Sawyer. Crane not only coordinated his storylines with Washington during World War II and the Cold War, but he sometimes allowed officials to dictate the details of his plots.

In 1952, for example—just a year before a CIA-assisted coup in Iran—Crane set a story in that country. As part of the process of producing it, Roy Crane a State Department official named Eugene V. Brown sent Crane a ten-page memo, explaining in precise detail the plot points the government wanted for Buz Sawyer, along with what purpose those points served. These included finding a way to "stress [the] importance of Private Enterprise" and to portray "the manner in which Communism attempts to discredit development and improvement programs of the West." Crane, meanwhile, should do his best to steer clear of certain delicate topics. "It would be best to avoid any reference to OIL in discussing Iran." Because winning hearts and minds was key, Brown wanted a story showing “a strong bond of friendship” between Buz and an Iranian pilot named Sandhu, the purpose of which was to "provide entry of Buz into local situation on common level with indigenous forces." (Crane followed this direction, although he used the name Ali instead of Sandhu.) Other plot points were designed to provide "further evidence of machinations of Communism" and "display American individual's ingenuity in coping with operations." Six months after the strip appeared, Crane praised Brown's contribution in a letter to Dean Acheson, Truman's secretary of state and one of the key architects of the cold war...

Contemporary entertainers like Kathryn Bigelow (Zero Dark Thirty) and Joel Surnow (24) have been branded as mouthpieces for the U.S. anti-terror agenda, carrying water for the government’s escapades in the Middle East. It’s hard to deny Zero Dark Thirty served up the CIA’s justification for using torture to find Osama bin Laden, and 24 helped normalize the government-friendly idea of torture as an instrument of policy. But—as far as we know!—no one in the U.S. government dictated to Bigelow or Surnow what should be in the work. With Crane, however, we have a clear and well-documented case study in how government officials can micromanage the production of popular culture, a salutary lesson in how propaganda works."

Except, of course - Unreleased: Probe Finds CIA Honcho Disclosed Top Secret Info to Hollywood: "The Defense Department Inspector General’s office has been sitting on a report that former Defense Secretary Leon Panetta disclosed “TOP SECRET” information and other sensitive details two years ago at an event attended by a “Hollywood executive” working on the movie Zero Dark Thirty. In June 2011, when he was director of the Central Intelligence Agency, Panetta discussed the information at a CIA headquarters event honoring participants in the raid that killed Osama bin Laden, according to an unreleased report drafted by the Inspector General’s office and obtained by the Project On Government Oversight (POGO). “During this awards ceremony, Director Panetta specifically recognized the unit that conducted the raid and identified the ground commander by name,” the draft report says. “According to the DoD Office of Security Review, the individual’s name is protected from public release” under federal law, the report says. “Director Panetta also provided DoD information, identified by relevant Original Classification Authorities as TOP SECRET//SI//REL TO USA, AUS, CAN, GBR, NZL, as well as, SECRET/ACCM,” the report says. Panetta was not interviewed for the report, the document says. POGO’s repeated attempts to reach him or a spokesperson for him through the Panetta Institute for Public Policy, his base in California, were unsuccessful."

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