Rommel’s defeat in the battle of El-alamein and General Paulus’s surrender in Leningrad had plummeted persisting hopes of Hitler’s Greater German Reich; Months later, Joseph Goebbels (Minister of propaganda), against all odds, stood before a crowd of perturbed Germans who yearned for the grim reality. What ensued instead has served as a “how to” guide for propagandists to come allowing falsehood to become synonymous with the truth. Goebbels necessitated for a “Total War” stating:

“I ask you: Do you want total war if necessary, do you want a war more total and radical than anything that we can even yet imagine? Now, people, rise up, and let the storm break loose!”

Even though the German morale, war time supply and the will to grapple for a prolonged war were at an all-time low, the Sportpalast speech had buried those facts very deep. These facts would unearth following the Fall of Berlin, whose architects were alleged cape wearing-peace makers that would use the very same tools deployed by Goebbels to cover up abuse and rape of women prior to the reconstruction period.

After the Second World War, the United States had long term schemes for their propaganda machine, anointed by the government; Operation Mockingbird was given its complete blessing by the CIA. It coerced journalists into swaying public opinion against Communism whereas any cynical portrayal of the United States was met with surreal prosecutions or otherwise “Witch Hunts”.

The intelligence agencies would venture for an unthinkable procedure after series of probes by the Congressional Church Committee had them ducking for cover. Through Hollywood, the CIA would embark on a decade long affair, choreographed meticulously in absolute secrecy.

J. Edgar. Hoover (FBI Director) actively pursued communists’ sympathisers inside Hollywood, through unconventional and sometimes illegal methods. To avoid the fate of Operation Mockingbird, a partnership with Walt Disney was established to stealthily seize this goal. In return, Hoover gifted Mr. Disney with exclusive permission to shoot episodes of the Micky Mouse Club inside the FBI headquarters with scripts written in advance by them.

Even after the Cold War had culminated, the practice remained intact with more filmmakers flocking to conceal the truth. The Arab community came into their crosshairs after 9/11, the after-effects of which still resonate. By falsely depicting “all Muslims” as gun-toting terrorists, in Homeland (2011-present) to justifying unjust torture in 24 (2001-2009). The creator behind these shows, Alex Gansa, has proved to be a favourite among these propagandists including former Vice President and multiple winner of “most punch-able face” award, Dick Cheney.

Investment in movies provided the CIA with their much needed aim to appear as “freedom loving patriots”. Movies like Argo (2012) and Zero Dark Thirty (2012) received direct contributions from the CIA and reminiscent of FBI-Disney relationship, these movies were also given permission to shoot inside their Langley headquarters. As a result Argo unfairly won Oscar for Best Picture while Zero Dark Thirty bagged one Oscar with three nominations. These films were diluted versions of the actual events, garnering bipartisan criticism from President Jimmy Carter, Senator John McCain and Diane Feinstein.

Every filmmaker strives for authenticity, to do so; dependence upon these propagandists is heavily relied upon. The cast of Kill The Messenger (2014), a movie on CIA’s role in the Iran-Contra affair, admitted to experiencing Government intimidation in the project. Upon its completion, it failed to attract a single Oscar nomination, despite a stellar cast with an Emmy award-winning director. This ploy goes much deeper than originally thought, movies ranging from Transformers to Hulk had scripts dictated entirely by the Pentagon to maximise the United States’ military presence around the globe.

Apart from Alex Gibney’s award winning Taxi to the dark side (2007), no movie in this decade has yet won fame or awards while also exposing the darkest secrets of the United States alleged “War on Terror”. This propaganda formulated by the United States, albeit different from the Nazis, sings verses homogenous to that of Goebbels’s propaganda. In this era of fake news, efforts alone are not enough to resurrect the truth, as depicted in the House of Cards (2013-present) and Handmaid’s Tale (2017-present); it is resistance to propaganda that shall overcome an enemy that once claimed to be our friend.

 

The writer is student of Bloomfield Hall.