While Hollywood is generally supportive of the government – and of the military in particular – the Pentagon faces a problem. In order to stand out from the crowd and make their screenplays a bit different to the usual schlock, screenwriters like to include subversive elements and aspects, even in films that are broadly in favour of institutions like the Department of Defense and the CIA. Because the Pentagon wants to support films that promote them as a benevolent force in the world, these subversive elements present a problem for them. One solution is civilianization.
In our new book National Security Cinema: The Shocking New Evidence of Government Control in Hollywood, we document numerous politically-motivated changes made to scripts by the Pentagon and CIA in exchange for production assistance. We collated this information from a vast range of sources including over 4,000 pages of documents we obtained under the Freedom of Information Act. One recurring theme we found in these changes is the civilianization of characters, action and dialogue that the Pentagon didn’t like.