Philip Strub is the Pentagon’s Director of Entertainment Media.
There had to be one.Why didn’t I figure this out?
Say that you are a Hollywood director. You want technical assistance. You want stock footage of things that go “boom” or “whoosh.” Or maybe you just want the images. Well, this stuff is trademarked. You can’t just use it any old way.
Officer Strub wants to read the script.
“Our goal, initially, is to give [filmmakers] news as quickly as possible as to whether the script is something we can support. There’s no question: I will plead guilty to bias in favor of the military. I wouldn’t be able to look myself in the mirror and go to work every day if I didn’t believe the military is a force for good. If a script comes to us portraying the military as a malign force, we won’t provide support.”
Some films didn’t make the cut. Independence Day made it look as though the aliens were better than the military. I mean, they had to get Randy Quaid to play a paranoid crazy guy who flew a crop duster to join up to fight the aliens. The Pentagon memo reveals that you can’t fool the Pentagon. “The military appears impotent and/or inept; all advances in stopping aliens are the result of actions by civilians.”
Then there was Forrest Gump. No help for that project. A Pentagon memo saw through that propaganda film, with its “generalized impression that the army of the 1960s was staffed by the guileless or by soldiers of limited intelligence.” The Pentagon also took issue with the scene where LBJ showed his backside to Forrest. “The ‘mooning’ of a president by a uniformed solider is not acceptable cinematic license.”
LBJ mooned the electorate for four years, but the Pentagon was not going to help remind us.
Still, if you can get past Officer Strub, you can get help really cheap. You can skip all those computer graphics. Think of the Pentagon as Open Source prop supply. It’s kind of like Linux for bombs.
Jerry Bruckheimer is a frequent user. Mr. Explosion says this: “In most cases with the military, they like what we’ve done and how we portrayed them, and that’s why we get the access and the military hardware.”
Battleship is mostly government issue.
Act of Valor uses actual Navy Seals.
But until computer graphics get a lot cheaper, we will have to wait for the movie version of Tora Bora.