Jamie Tarabay explored Hollywood’s relationship with the Pentagon in a recent piece for Al Jazeera America. The Pentagon has a devoted “entertainment-liaison officer” who acts as a Hollywood point person and helps decide which projects get Pentagon support (in the form of expertise, equipment, and locations). According to scholar Lawrence Suid, the Hollywood military relationship relationship dates back to 1910 and was “cemented” with the 1927 film Wings. Suid characterizes the relationship as one of “mutual exploitation”:
Suid coined the phrase “mutual exploitation” when he first stumbled onto the U.S. military-Hollywood connection. “I was teaching the history of the Vietnam War, and I couldn’t explain how we got into Vietnam. I could give the facts, the dates, but I couldn’t explain why,” he recalled. “And when I was getting my film degrees it suddenly occurred to me that people in the U.S. had never seen the U.S. lose a war, and when [President] Johnson said we can go into Vietnam and win, they believed him because they’d seen 50 years of war movies that were positive.”
Each side, Suid said, benefits from this arrangement. The U.S. military gets incredible publicity and recruitment advantages, and the film industry gets equipment, locations and authenticity.