It is an age-old question as to the extent art reflects the world we live in. Bertolt Brecht allegedly said to the contrary that art was “not a mirror held up to reality but a hammer with which to shape it.”
The Marxist German playwright devised theatrical methods designed to distance the audience from the staged drama while drawing self-reflexive attention to the contrived nature of the spectacle itself.
The idea was that by estranging the spectator and encouraging critical examination, they would come to view society’s manmade injustices as similarly unnatural and be given agency to transform them in the real world. One of the implications of Brecht’s notion was that art in its more conventional forms often functions as a tool of mass persuasion for those in power to reinforce those inequities.
Marx and Engels themselves professed to have learned more about the contradictions of French society from the novels of Honoré de Balzac, which upheld the monarchy and the Church, than any historians or philosophers of their day. At its very worst, artistic mediums can be used by governments to manipulate a nation’s attitude towards other countries in order to justify war.
Brecht’s life and work coincided with the development of the film industry. However, most productions influenced by his ‘epic theatre’ were art-house and foreign films while commercial, mass-market Hollywood movies placed greater emphasis on appealing to the emotions over intellect.
However, there were some exceptions such as Charlie Chaplin who not coincidentally was persecuted for his politics by the House of Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC) during the Red Scare.
In the Cold War, Tinseltown played an important role in the cultural battlefield against the USSR and anti-Soviet paranoia was an ever-present theme in American cinema for decades, from the McCarthy era until the Berlin Wall fell.
Contemporaneously, a revival of geopolitical tensions between the United States and the Russian Federation — which many have dubbed a second Cold War — has seen the return of such tropes on the silver screen. Most recently, it has resurfaced in popular web television shows such as the third season of Netflix’s retro science fiction/horror series Stranger Things, as well as HBO’s miniseries Chernobyl, which dramatizes the 1986 nuclear accident in Soviet Ukraine.
It was a famous cinematic work that many believe ominously foreshadowed Chernobyl in Andrei Tarkovsky’s 1979 science fiction film, Stalker, less than a decade prior to the calamity. It is unlikely that HBO would have been as interested in green-lighting a five-part program on the disaster without the current hysteria surrounding the unproven allegations of Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential election and ‘collusion’ between Moscow and the Trump campaign.
‘Russiagate’ has become a national obsession and suddenly the very idea of corruption and intrigue has been made synonymous with the Kremlin. Hollywood liberal figures have been some of the hoax’s biggest proponents, including the show’s writer, Craig Mazin.
It is equally as hard to imagine Americans themselves being as captivated by a re-enactment of the nuclear accident without the current political climate of fear-mongering bombarding them every day in corporate media. From the perspective of the U.S. political establishment, what better way to deflect attention away from its own sins than onto a manufactured adversary?
For instance, a recent Columbia University study found that sections of the Marshall Islands, which the U.S. acquired from Japan following WWII and conducted countless nuclear tests nearby in the Pacific, is significantly more radioactive than Chernobyl. The highest radiation levels were found on the Bikini atoll, where evacuated islanders were initially told they could return shortly after tests began in 1946 but have been waiting more than seventy years to come home.
On other coral atolls in the island country such as Rogelapp, the U.S. Navy allowed the native population to return too soon knowing full well the food and water were highly contaminated, resulting in a generation with high birth defects and cancer rates. The U.S. ceded the territory in 1994 only after the Marshallese negotiated a meager $150 million in damages for their mistreatment while permitting the establishment of a U.S. ballistic missile defense test site targeting China.
Unfortunately, the presstitutes are too preoccupied with sensational coverage of the recent accident at the Russian military base in Nyonoska, salivating at another prospective Chernobyl. Not to mention, the ongoing cover-up of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster in 2011 in the U.S. vassal state of Japan.
Already featuring a non-native cast and in the English language spoken with British accents, HBO’s Chernobyl is loaded with historical inaccuracies. The narrative takes many liberties both for the purpose of entertainment value and to create blatant propaganda seemingly as intent on discrediting socialism as it is in demonizing Moscow.
This is unsurprising considering that screenwriter Craig Mazin is not only an establishment liberal with Putin derangement syndrome but a vocal critic of Bernie Sanders who has even ludicrously attempted to tie the Senator from Vermont to Russiagate on social media. Mazin has virtue signaled about the show as a parable about global warming (“the flaws that led to Chernobyl are the same flaws shown by climate deniers”) while simultaneously denouncing the candidate in the 2020 Democratic field with arguably the most comprehensive climate plan, leaving aside whether Sanders’ New Dealism is genuine socialism.
For centre-rightists, the climate crisis is not tied to capitalism which as Marx reportedly said, “tends to destroy its two sources of wealth, nature and human beings” but is merely the failure of individual corrupt leaders like Trump. Early on in the series, Mazin invents a fictional elderly Soviet official who points to a bust of Vladimir Lenin while invoking socialism to silence those urging an immediate evacuation of Pripyat in the initial days of the disaster.
Mazin takes further artistic license to assign a protagonist in the story in Valery Legasov (played by Jared Harris), the high-ranking chemist who led the inquiry of the disaster and testified before the International Atomic Energy Agency before committing suicide in 1987. The story deviates from factual events in order to portray the scientist as an honest official blowing the whistle on a bureaucratic government.
While his sworn statement was indeed straightforward, in real life Legasov did not blame reactor design flaws and deviate from the official government account of “human error” or breach of protocol as portrayed in the series, nor was he a witness in the trial of the nuclear plant operators who were found to be at fault.
This is entirely a work of fiction designed to depict an incompetent and secretive Soviet government to be the cause of the accident. One would have no idea this same state was capable of inventing human space travel or industrializing an agrarian society in a single decade, a feat which took the British more than a century to accomplish. Not to mention that the accident occurred while the USSR was undergoing market-oriented reforms, a period in which the Soviet economy was at its most de-centralized and on the verge of collapse during perestroika.
At every turn, Legasov is up against cartoonish authoritarian officials who attempt to cover-up the severity of the catastrophe, including one particularly absurd scene when a Soviet apparatchik threatens to throw him out of a helicopter to his death if he does not explain how a reactor works.
The Soviet working class are not spared, either, as miners are coerced at gunpoint by Soviet troops at the order of the coal minister to dig a sarcophagus underneath the reactor to prevent radioactive contamination of the country’s water supply with the promise of financial reward.
However, by all accounts, no such use of the military ever took place and is contradicted by Legasov’s own statements which were not nearly as critical of state management as represented. The scientist had also attempted to take his own life once before while in the hospital suffering from radiation exposure, a more likely motive for his suicide. It is also rumored that the real reason for the Kremlin’s ‘secrecy’ about Chernobyl was that Pripyat was home to more than just a reactor-grade power station but possibly an undisclosed missile launching site or a facility producing warheads, with the meltdown a case of deliberate cyber sabotage by the CIA.
The series even finds time to rewrite WWII history in a scene where a stubborn babushka refuses to evacuate Pripyat, claiming to have endured worse surviving the Banderite hoax of the Holodomor. There was indeed a famine (throughout the entire USSR), but using the reconstruction of the tragedy to insert Ukrainian nationalist propaganda and Nazi myths of deliberate starvation is part of the West’s ongoing whitewashing of Ukrainian Nazi collaborators whose ultra-right descendants were instrumental in the 2014 Maidan coup.
It is an insult to the Soviet people who sprung to action voluntarily and heroically to prevent the disaster from worsening to what could have left much of Europe uninhabitable, killed millions and caused incalculable damage to the environment. Then again, the West has never given the Soviets credit for defeating Germany, so it is to be expected they wouldn’t truly acknowledge the sacrifices made in Chernobyl.
During the 1980s as the Cold War reached a crescendo, Hollywood was churning out anti-Soviet movies marketed at teens, like Red Dawn where a group of adolescents defend their small midwestern town from a fictional Soviet invasion.
The same premise has been recycled for the most recent season of Netflix’s popular Stranger Things, a sci-fi horror vehicle carrying on the genre’s legacy of association with cold war paranoia going back to the 1950s with classics like Invasion of the Body Snatchers which evoked domestic fears about communist infiltration in the form of an alien invasion.
Stylishly imitative of the 1980s, with a synth-heavy soundtrack, the first two seasons saw its young characters living in a fictional Indiana town, some of whom possess telekinetic powers, who battle paranormal beings from another dimension called the “Upside Down” on which a nearby U.S. Department of Energy facility has been secretly performing experiments.
The third season takes a different turn, however, where the adolescents go up against “evil Russians” and “Soviet scum” infiltrating the U.S.
Perhaps it was for the better that Chernobyl decided to use British actors speaking in their own tongue because the Russians in Stranger Things are cartoonish, brute thugs that resemble Ivan Drago from Rocky IV.
Even more absurdly, the children discover that a new local shopping mall in the town putting mom-and-pop stores out of business has been constructed by Russian operatives (not by multinational chains as it was in real life under Reaganism) to hide an underground laboratory. The preposterous sequence can only be interpreted as an expression of the anxiety underlying the U.S. decline and fear of the ascendancy of Moscow on the international stage.
Like Chernobyl, the nostalgia-driven program disparages socialism as much as it villainizes Russia, including one ludicrous scene where a 10-year old black girl agrees to help the other kids on the condition they agree to give her free ice cream from the mall shop where several of the teens work. She then proceeds to lecture them on the purported benefits of trickle-down theory, because if anyone can appreciate the alleged rewards of Reaganomics with the reduction of social programs and spending cuts, it would be an African-American child during the 1980s.
It is apparent that the caricature of the Soviet Union in both productions is really a stand-in for the present-day Russian government under Vladimir Putin. As only American exceptionalism could permit, Hollywood did not hold the same disdain for his predecessor, Boris Yeltsin, whose legacy of high inflation and national debt have since been eliminated.
In fact, most have forgotten that the same filmdom community outraged about Russia’s supposed interference in the 2016 U.S. election made a celebratory movie back in 2003, Spinning Boris, which practically boasted about the instrumental role the West played in Yeltsin’s 1996 reelection in Russia. The highly unpopular alcoholic politician benefited from near-universal media bias as virtually all the federation’s news outlets came under the control of the ‘oligarchs’ (in America known simply as billionaires) which his economic policies of mass privatization of state industry enriched overnight.
Yeltsin initially polled at less than 10%, and was far behind Communist Party candidate Gennady Zyuganov, until he became the recipient of billions from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) thanks to his corrupt campaign manager, Anatoly Chubais, now one of the most hated men in all of Russia. After the purging of votes and rampant ballot-box stuffing, Yeltsin successfully closed the gap between his opponent thanks to the overt US meddling. [One of our editors wrote an in-depth article about this last year – Ed.]
Spinning Boris was directed by Roger Spottiswoode, who previously helmed an instalment in the James Bond series, Tomorrow Never Dies. The 1997 entry in the franchise is one of thousands of Hollywood films and network television shows exposed by journalists Matthew Alford and Tom Secker as having been influenced or directly assisted by the Pentagon and CIA in their must-read book National Security Cinema: The Shocking New Evidence of Government Control in Hollywood.
Based on evidence from documents revealed in Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests, their investigation divulges the previously unknown extent to which the national security complex has gone in exerting control over content in the film industry.
While it has always been known that the military held sway over movies that required usage of its facilities and equipment to be produced, the level of impact on such films in the pre-production and editing stages, as well as the control over non-military themed flicks one wouldn’t suspect to be under supervision by Washington and Langley, is exhaustively uncovered.
As expected, Hollywood and the military-industrial complex’s intimate relationship during the Cold War is featured prominently in Alford and Secker’s investigative work. It is unclear whether HBO or Netflix sought US military assistance or were directly involved with the national security state in their respective productions, but these are just two recent examples of many where the correlated increase in geopolitical tensions with Moscow is reflected. The upcoming sequel to DC’s Wonder Woman set to be released next year, Wonder Woman 1984, featuring the female superhero “coming into conflict with the Soviet Union during the Cold War in the 1980s”, is yet another.
Reprising her role is Israeli actress and IDF veteran is Gal Gadot as the title character, ironically starring in a blockbuster that will demonize the Eurasian state which saved her ethnicity from extinction. Given the Pentagon’s involvement in the debacle surounding 2014’s The Interview which provoked very real tensions with North Korea, it is likely they are at least closely examining any entertainment with content regarding Russia, if not directly pre-approving it for review.
Ultimately, the Western panic about its imperial decline is not limited to assigning blame to Moscow.
Sinophobia has manifested as well in recent films such as the 2016 sci-fi film Arrival where the extra-terrestrials who reach Earth seem more interested in communicating with Beijing as the global superpower than the US. However, while the West forebodes the return of Russia and China to greater standing, you can be certain its real fear lies elsewhere.
The fact that Chernobyl and Stranger Things are as preoccupied with portraying socialism in a bad light as they are in rendering Moscow nefarious shows the real underlying trepidation of the ruling elite that concerns the resurgence of class consciousness.
The West must learn its lesson that its state of perpetual war has caused its own downfall or it could attempt a last line of defense that would inevitably conscript all of humanity to its death as the ruling class nearly did to the world in 1914 and 1939.
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Art is verb; to be.
Art is the active expression and embodiment of being.
Life gives and receives meaning, wordlessly, but the mind in recoil and contraction from life dissociates to a cast out displacement of its core conflicts.
Assigning art to the forms of its expression is to make idol or symbol as substitution and substitution of artifice for art is of artificial substitution for life.
An artifice of being is a masking ‘reality’ or rather, reality distortion.
The mind of phishing frames the masking form of a hidden intent.
And the attempt to counter or survive the framing reinforces its reality in the mind of the phished.
That we can give meaning – in fact that we must give meaning – to our world IS our experience of it.
The ability to give private meanings of a personal or private self-agrandisement is at the same time a sense of lack given power.
The more we live from a sense of self-lack, the more we generate scarcity and self-specialness set over and against all else as threat.
Power struggle works action and reaction to ensure an abundance of self-lack projected out as perception until the capacity to see what is wrong with everyone and everything runs a second nature invisibly usurping our first.
Identifying in the mask of second nature is the Emperor’s New Clothes or the fig-leaves over a fear of exposure of hidden agenda. These are presentations or cover stories of ingenuity as the filtering of creative imagination through the tooling technologism of defence – that sees attacking first as its best defence – but in ways that seem to extend a caring or kindness, or a sense of well meaning patience outworn to open grievance from which to openly attack as ‘righteous’.
Propaganda, like all technologism tooled to artificial agenda, becomes the mind of those who think to use it. Tooled mind conditions its user to see its world in terms of it tool. It has become a tool to its purpose as a reversal of thought or conditioned perception-response of the belief its tool confers power
The mind’s natural function is to give focus and reflection of supporting reinforcement to the ideas that resonate to the heart’s desire. When we accept idols in substitution for a truly extending presence – the conflicted self-sense ‘goes forth and multiplies’ as the propagation and reinforcement. And knows nothing else!
The protection of conflict and enemy as ‘sustainability’ of a systemic mis-identification presents itself as hate and fear targets on which to dump or deny our own debts of evaded responsibility onto others. That this becomes an insane entanglement becomes the use of confusion as defence. The need to know basis becomes compartmentalised and fragmented such as to become a 1% over the 99% of an active ‘need not to know’. Is the ‘will to a corrupted power’, the tool of a collectively unconscious but active denial?
Mutually reinforcing insanity can only operate destructively as a result of mistaken self interest – such as the organs of a body losing cooperation, coordination and communication.
On the general topic of propaganda masquerading as “entertainment”, I nominate “Forrest Gump” as the ultimate Right Wing propaganda movie. It’s full of little reactionary moral lessons e.g.
-People who try to help you are just standing in your way but bullies will whip you into shape.
-The disabled can really do it (run like the wind!) if they are motivated to stop being shirkers.
-Don’t protest. People who protest are nasty people who beat up their women.
-Don’t sing protest songs. You’ll end up naked on a stage with degraded businessmen jeering at you.
-Don’t question authority. Just keep your head down and do your duty and you’ll end up as a successful shrimp farmer.
-People who get their legs blown off in Vietnam are bitter …but only because they have “an argument with God”.
And of course:
-If you speak in a cutesy drawl, you’re an instant guru no matter how much bollocks you talk about life being like a box of chocolates.
Oh and I’m very much aware that the film is “tongue-in-cheek” but an “ironic” presentation is always a sly way to sneak a load of bullshit across.
Whilst the article focuses on Hollywood and catalogues umpteen blatant propaganda films and mini series it overlooks the role books play in reinforcing the narrative of American “exceptionalism” which is code for superiority of the white anglo saxon racist ideology that was exported by British imperialism to it’s once former colonies that make up the ‘Five Eyes’ organisation. Namely UK, USA, Canada, New Zealand and Australia.
One of my favourite authors was David Baldacci. I say was as his latest novel “Redemption” degenerates into an anti-Russian fixation.
As the plot unfolds we come across the clandestine basement in a restaurant that is the centre for the infiltration of Russian Nationals into everyday ‘Joes’ not at the highest levels but, “ Even with new identities and such, it would be difficult for your agents to survive a background check. You can create the right docs and all, paper the schools they went to, but the background check will go to where they attended school and lived, talk to old neighbors, relatives, teachers, coworkers, and all the rest”……..”low end jobs are much better sources for intelligence collection”……chefs for wealthy people. Security guards at sensitive corporate facilities”….. and on and on this goes pages 401 and 402.
The Russians are everywhere and have infiltrated the common folk so beware and spy on your neighbour and report suspicious behaviour. Especially non white people. It fits in with the narrative of institutionalised racism and why white people ring the cops “because I felt threatened by the way he looked at me”. And the cops tend to shoot first if you aren’t white.
It is correctly 5+1 eyes.
By the way, was it not a British-American television action thriller series “Strikeback” (the 2017 “Retribution” season) that introduced the Novichok narrative into British culture in February 2018 before the actual March 4, 2018, incident in which Sergei and Julia Skripal were found collapsed on the park bench by Britain’s most senior army nurse Alison McCourt and her daugher Abigail (who just happened to be passing by) in The Maltings shopping mall in Salisbury, and gave first aid and called the paramedics without suffering any apparent ill effects, in spite of two police officers being later incapacitated, a restaurant and a pub having to close for several months, and a house having its roof removed though the toxin was apparently found elsewhere on the building?
Now the trustworthy British Broadcasting BS Corporation is set to produce a dramatic retelling of that incident that will focus on the brave Salisbury community’s stoic reaction to the incident and the events that followed. One looks forward to seeing Eliot Higgins’ name in the scrolling end credits as historical consultant.
Brecht’s plays are technically crude and wooden. His alienation effects are no more than third rate agitprop.
Try Homeland Season 7!! Sometimes these things are worth viewing just to see the utter ridiculously obviousness of the propaganda. Actually this one was SO bad that we were still waiting for a little twist right at the end, just to give it a tiny modicum of credibility. Sadly, they couldn’t even be bothered so there’s 12 hours we’ll never get back but the level of Russophobia in this particular season is extraordinary in terms of contemporary entertainment.
It’s also worth noting that during the accident at Windscale, police ‘volunteered’ people from the back row of cinemas to push the fuel rods back in.
And of course they still state that Chernobyl was the worst nuclear incident, which although catastrophic is a literal drop in the ocean compared to Fukushima….
Anna, I’ll have to check out Homeland season 7. I need a few laughs at the moment.
You’re probably familiar with this, but for those who aren’t it’s well worth taking a look at a feature length documentary called ‘Inside The CIA – On Company Business’ (1980)…
Even if people only watch the first fifteen minutes or so of this documentary they’ll get an idea of the propaganda, and just how criminal the CIA are (along with the other Five Eyes loons).
This documentary was made 40 years ago. Imagine what it’s like now, with the security services having unlimited budgets (particularly post-9/11), with no proper oversight and telling us that they’ve got to fight the almost entirely fabricated ‘twerrorists’ and the enemies du jour.
Kudos for mentioning Fukushima, which barely gets a mention thesedays, particularly with
the glowing 2020 Tokyo Olympics approaching.
Thanks Rob. I hadn’t actually seen this series but it’s definitely worth watching. Discovering the coup against Allende is what finally lifted the veil of lies for me – the start of my long and continuous journey of deprogramming.
We simply must not allow 5G to rollout (the health implications alone should prevent this, let alone its surveillance capabilities), especially as facial recognition technology now seems to be perfectly legal in the UK.
Anna, we are all on a journey.
The following track has terrible audio, but it’s the only version of it that I can still find on YouTube:
You probably know that it’s from an album called ‘Songs For Drella’.
Oh, and I forgot to mention that you can find a better version of this track, along with many other tracks from ‘Songs For Drella’ on my blog (and there’s no beg for money on my blog):
On the reasons for the accident, Serhii Plokhy (a Russian-Ukrainian-American historian) and Adam Higginbotham (a British-born journalist working in the US) are consistent. At the time, the Soviet authorities placed the blame on human error: the mishandling by operators on the night-shift of what should have been a routine shutdown to run basic tests on the safety system. In one of the last show trials of the ailing state during Mikhail Gorbachev’s era of glasnost and perestroika, the personnel concerned were sent to prison – the harshest sentence (ten years) being imposed on the plant’s director, Viktor Bryukhanov, who was accused of “moral collapse… as a leader and as a man”.
But history vindicates the assertions of these accused men that the reactor was poorly designed, with a fatal flaw creating the potential for unstable, runaway behaviour that none of them could have foreseen. That’s what turned a minor error into a disaster. To acknowledge that, however, would mean placing blame on powerful individuals in the Soviet nuclear programme and admitting to the world that its science and engineering were substandard – as well as recognising the dangers posed by other reactors of this type operating in Russia and the satellite states. (They were quietly modified anyway.)
OK – playing devil’s advocate here, Louis. I note that bit, ” the personnel concerned were sent to prison” and I also note that (from Wiki):
“the accident’s immediate death toll was … 54, with estimates from other groups ranging from 49 to 59.”
There is further speculation on so many thousand deaths later on from the effects. However I also note that re: 9/11 (again from Wiki):
“2,977 people were killed (excluding the 19 hijackers) and more than 6,000 others injured.”
Yet, to my knowledge, nobody has been sent to prison for the failure of the US defense system.
Careful, George. Questioning the official story about ANYTHING will get you nothing but knee-jerk accusations of ‘anti-Semitism’ and ‘conspiracy theorist’ from Louis NATO Proyect
The subject of propaganda being used in entertainment is a very rich field. There are certain tropes in American movies that have remained fairly constant. Take the accents. The scheme seems to go like this:
American accent = good
English accent = bad
Scottish/Irish accent = rustic simplicity
Russian accent = sinister
German accent = evil etc.
And some of the programmes over the years have been screamingly obvious in their propaganda e.g. the fantasy series “Lost” about people stuck on a desert island. This started in 2004 i.e. a year after the invasion of Iraq and one of the main characters was Sayid – an Iraqi who had a terrible past as a torturer. And then we had Sun-Hwa Kwon who was the daughter of a Korean businessman who was portrayed as a gangster thug. (This, of course, would never be allowed in America.)
As for the Russians, well at least they haven’t been portrayed as tearing babies out of incubators …yet!
Russians??? Nobody has been vilified as much by Hollywood as Arabs. They are invariably portrayed as evil, violent, lecherous or just plain stupid. Arabs, and sometimes Palestinians in particular, are nothing more than cannon fodder for heroic Americans and Israelis. Hollywood has had a huge impact on the way people, particularly Americans, view the Arab/Israeli conflict. However, I take the point of the article. Hollywood can certainly be seen as an extension of US foreign policy, and don’t accept the “it’s only a movie” bullshit. Hollywood has far more impact on how Americans perceive themselves and the world then the news media. Who controls Hollywood? As one Jewish author stated “Anyone who says Jews control Hollywood is simply making a statistical observation”.
They are just the new Injuns and Redskins.
I take it you’re familiar with the quite recent movie, ‘London Has Fallen’?
Such crude propaganda is so blatant that I actually find it quite amusing to watch. ‘London Has Fallen’ is billed as an action adventure movie, but in reality it’s pure comedy.
I could also cite the James Bond franchise in a similar respect.
Maybe I’m being paranoid when I posit that the propagandists know that the some people won’t fall for the bullshit, so the propagandists deliberately make it entertaining, too, for the doubters, to try and get them at least half way hooked into the message.
As another Jew said, “ of course we control Hollywood, we invented it!” And so they did.
The Libyans in Back To The Future.
All the evil hell spawn in Buffy which laid the ground for the decade of exceptionality and good all-american heroes (except wonder woman who was played by an Israeli model and soldier).
Every police /ncs / dystopian / fantasy tv show including the latest batchs of ‘worthies’ like Hand Maidens Tale.
Bring back Loony Toons we need to get back to the daily repeated simplicity ofTom&Jerry and Bugs Bunny – at least they were funny amd not as violent in their glorification of gun culture.
After 9-11 the portrayal of Arabs/Muslims was relatively muted in popular film culture. Starting with Bush the Younger, the imagary of Muslims was muted to enforce the idea that “not all Muslims are terrorists”. Hollywood followed along. I saw testimonal after testimonal that witnessed to the fact that the jihadist terrorists were a less than a minority. Are there any such testimonials in the West about the Russians? From my point of view, it was a few years after 9-11 that Russians slowly became the politically acceptable evil villians within pop film culture. I remember Law and Order the most devious ethnic mafias were the Russians. Russians emerged as villians involved in sex trafficing in Mexico of all places in one film I saw. And in the recent and very popular John Wick series the first set of villians were Russians. The fckers even killed a beagle.
I would say that it has been now about 10-15 years that Russians have become the politically acceptable villians not only in Hollywood but elite media and political culture. I was watching the phony progressives at Young Turks and listening to them rant about the Russians and it was no different, in fact worse than what racists have said about Arab/Muslims and Mexicans. Of course in such places as the NYtimes the same racist comments about Arabs are allowed.
So in essence, Russians in pop film culture are thee approved ethnix villian. In political culture, of course the Arabs/Muslims get the worse treatment and worse yet, real bullets and real bombs.
As someone allegedly manufactured at the St Petersburg Bot Factory, I’m none too sure why the author has used HBO’s Chernobyl mini-series to drive home a message about anti-Russian sentiment and Russophobia raising its ugly head yet once more from the bowels of Hollywood.
I viewed the 5 part mini-docudrama myself and came away alarmed at events, which by the way impacted sheep farming hills in my own neck of the woods, namely South Wales, whilst for first-hand news reports, much of these came out of the pages of The Guardian – so to this observer, we are talking living memory.
Having watched the series and read multiple reviews of the series viewers can come away with different interpretations, for me at least, I walked away with no malice towards the Soviet Union, or Gorbachov, indeed, one could not be struck by the acknowledgement of bravery exhibited by many, including the emergency first responders, whilst some homage was made to the Soviet Military and a section of the proletariat itself, represented by the coal miners, who, in real life actually did work naked.
Of note, yes some critiques were evidenced, namely against the managerial class at the plant itself and ossified local Communist Party structures failing to acknowledge the true extent of the disaster as it unfolded.
The message I took home, apart from heroism of many involved, was one that Gorbachov was pushing himself, namely that of the need of Perestroika and Glasnost.
I’ve actually watched a few other US movies that have touched on Soviet Military History, namely Widowmaker and Kursk, both focusing on the Soviet Navy, neither of which I’d deem anti-Russian.
Of course, Hollywoods one important function is to drive home propagandist messages against the USA’s perceived enemies, Putin, Assad and Rouhani springing to mind, as well as of late the environmentalist movement, viciously portrayed in the latest Godzilla offering.
Can’t comment about Stranger Things as have never watched it, what other observation I can make, this despite the US Militaries tilt to Asia Pac again to confront an alleged Chinese threat, is that in many of the US Blockbusters, we now have actual Chinese actors playing parts and that these movies don’t give an anti-Chinese impression, quite the reverse as China is now a major export market for Hollywood movies, many of which would show a loss if it were not for Chinese cinema goers.
On another note, for those of us who remember, many of those in the mass entertainment industry caught up in the US Communist Witch Hunts actually found their way to the UK and had a major influence on early ITV productions, and indeed British made movies – allegedly their services came cheap!
The scary thing is: the obvious irony of Jimmy Carter being assigned this self-same role in Middletown, PA? Carter knew better than anybody just how close we came to abandoning Philly, maybe Baltimore too. Gorbachev and crew seemed downright competent compared to the DNC kleptocracy, so eager to use subtrafuge to bail-out the 45-60 yr old reactors decaying amongst all our major cities. Probably install Russian oligarch built breeder reactors at taxpayer/ rate-payer expense?
Thank You for this excellent essay. It looks at a number of aspects that are of utmost importance to be shed light on. That Hollywood has always been a propaganda tool for the owner class could have only escaped the minds of the most gullible of all people. It has been so blatant and obvious since its creation, that one could well say it is the propaganda arm of any U.S. regime in question.
Its pervasive ill treatment of dissenting actors, directors, producers and crew members is archived. Productions like ‘The Deer Hunter’ and ‘Apocalypse Now’ are rare cash ins before the historic background of a widespread anti-war sentiment of their time. There were few other movies critical of the eternal status quo of a perpetually warring nation.
The web site ‘thoughtmaybe’ offers a large compendium of documentaries to this end. One can discover the persistent propaganda churned out by ‘Holywood’ is carefully crafted to lure the U.S. population and those of their vassal states into the delusions of exceptionalism, moral superiority and Orwellian democracy and liberty. What critical minds will immediately observe however, is the incessant psychological projection of fascist U.S. regimes in question, towards their perceived adversaries.
‘Propagandawood’ serves the owner class well and most often in absolute voluntary fashion. Eager to please the manipulators behind the curtains. The emphasis given to the manufacturing of another round of Russophobia, Communism/Socialism-phobia is noted amidst an escalating hate towards Russia and very soon towards china as well.
Since Your essay is so perfectly reflecting the machinations employed by the owner class, the only point I would like to add is the following:
Writers and publishers must work together to declare propaganda (public relations for fascism) what it is – a crime against humanity. One of the worst crimes against humanity absent outright genocide.
At that, the U.S. film industry is guilty of crimes against humanity and must be portrayed this way.
Thank You again for Your essay and OffGuardian for publishing it – giving proof that facts are indeed sacred here.
Many years ago as a teenager, before I realised how the World really was, or even what the Cold War was about, I recall seeing a film called ‘The Russians Are Coming, The Russians Are Coming’ that seemed charming, poignant and with a few laughs.
That was long before I realised what Hollywood represented, and the propaganda role it plays in the West.
Fast forward to the current century, and I avoid anything from Hollywood, whether TV shows or Blockbuster movies. Schmaltzy, jingoistic, candy floss with the intelligence of a retarded lemon, and the subtlety of a charging bull in a china shop, all designed to keep people ignorant and brainwashed, and believing the United States are the good guys fighting for freedom and democracy and let’s not forget – the ‘international rules based order’. And to keep people believing in the worth of the Capitalist system as the only option we have. As you say, socialism is such a dirty word in Hollywood.
Like you boycott Israel, and boycott the mainstream presstitutes, so too boycott Hollywood (I echo Fair Dinkum on this). Free your mind!
For many of us, Hollywood is eschewed because of inferior quality, although that encompasses blatant propaganda. UK and EU movies are grossly superior from end to end.
Like I said, the propaganda is as subtle as a charging bull in a china shop. At least we, and others here can see it.
Nearly all the movies I have in my collection are from Europe or Latin America, handful of American ones that were independently made in places like Tennessee or Minnesota.
Are you serious? British films – especially films about significant historical and cultural British figures set in the mid-20th century – are chock-full of propaganda, lies and identity politics idiocy.
I saw the film “Suffragette” (featuring Meryl Streep as Emmeline Pankhurst) years ago and that film was a travesty in that a working-class female character (who in real life would have joined a trade union to fight for better working conditions and pay for all employees, male and female, in the laundry where she worked) joins the mostly middle-class suffragette movement . The fate of that working-class female character, ostracised by her fellow working-class workers, neighbours and family, and encouraged by the suffragettes to abandon her husband and child and commit acts of violence, is left to the mercy of Cod. I was left slack-jawed by the insinuation that working-class people were idiots who couldn’t organise their way out of a paper bag and that they would turn on their own for wanting a better life.
More recently I saw the film “Red Joan” which, loosely based on the life of Melita Norwood, did its utmost to whitewash the character of Norwood herself into a one-dimensional generic everywoman character to cover up the fact that the real-life Norwood had been an ardent Communist supporter and had ordinary secretarial qualifications which enabled her to escape suspicion and detection.
On top of those, and others I have seen – I haven’t seen a great deal, because two or three are enough – British films often need Hollywood money for finance and Hollywood studios for their distribution.
Whoa Jen. I did not say all but was generalizing. Yes British films can be financed by Hollywood and are the worse for it. Enforced Hollywood endings for example. The examples you quote are not exactly mainstream flicks. But there is no accounting for taste.
Social ills and harms to forming relationships resulted from Hollywood are real.
Add the propaganda dimension to it, and you find very compelling reasons to never pay one cent on this trash.
US-mil no.1 problem with Russia over China: the former has 6,490 atomic weapons and the latter only ~290 https://www.armscontrol.org/factsheets/Nuclearweaponswhohaswhat
The American coalition launched an airstrike in the Syrian province of Idlib and did so without coordination with Russia and Turkey.
U.S. strike on Idlib disrupts truce and causes many casualties
What really got me was the Russian accents of the nasty wolves in ‘The Secret Life of Pets 2’. When I saw that, I just had to laugh. They start inculcating anti-Russia phobias from an early age in Hollywood. I am not going to go so far to say that it is the CIA to blame, but it could well be. I mean, why choose the Russian accent for the bad guys all the time?
To be fair, when they portray the ignorant and feeble-minded, the accent is distinctly Southern US.
Yes, for locals. But, for bad guys, criminal organizations, etc., Russian, or eastern European, accents seem standard fare.
When the time eventually comes for Hollywood to make a mini-series about Donald Trump’s presidency, I wonder what accent the actor playing Trump will use. Russian / Eastern European-accented Noo Yawk English?
That largely depends on whether he is re-elected or not. I suspect he will, and if he doesn’t start any new wars, and finishes the ones going on now, probably the world will be breathing a sigh of relief, that Americans are finally learning to mind their own business. And, who better to achieve this than a businessman?
Goebbels was an amateur compared to the Hollywood spin machine.
They have been spewing out fear mongering, jingoistic, sexist, violence glorifying, shark shit for more than a hundred years.
BDS Hollywood — I love it!
No need for BDS. Just ignore the white trash.
LOL and Yes