Military Propaganda at the Cinema

by | Jun 2, 2022


Did you see Top Gun: Maverick at a movie theater last weekend? Many people did. As noted in an Newsweek article by Samuel Spencer, over the weekend the movie “was number one in the box offices of all 30 countries that Box Office Mojo has public data for.”

Here is something many Top Gun: Maverick viewers do not know. Involvement of the United States military in the development of the movie indicates that aspects of the move were crafted to satisfy US military demands, turning the movie into a mechanism for delivering US military propaganda.

Roger Stahl, a University of Georgia communications professor provides some of the background on US military tinkering with the new Top Gun movie in a Monday Los Angeles Times editorial. And the situation goes far beyond this one movie about fighter pilots. Stahl writes that “the Pentagon and the Central Intelligence Agency have exercised direct editorial control over more than 2,500 films and television shows.”

One hook used to ensure compliance with government demands, such as for story and character changes, Stahl explains, is conditioning the use of military assets like the F-18 fighter planes in Top Gun: Maverick on having “control of the script.”

Read Stahl’s editorial here.


  • Adam Dick

    Adam worked from 2003 through 2013 as a legislative aide for Rep. Ron Paul. Previously, he was a member of the Wisconsin State Board of Elections, a co-manager of Ed Thompson's 2002 Wisconsin governor campaign, and a lawyer in New York and Connecticut.

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