Hollywood and Propaganda

When the world was surveyed about who is the biggest threat to world peace, the United States of America was picked as the biggest threat.  According to Tanner Mirrlees in Global Entertainment Media: Between Cultural Imperialism and Cultural Globalization, “[f]ollowing World War II, the old European empires began to crumble.  The world system’s center of gravity shifted from Europe to US, which became a new kind of post-colonial empire.” (22)  This was a large part for Hollywood to have anchored into the cultural norms for other cultures.  This anchor allowed cultural imperialism to occur.  Though George Lucas had expressed that it is instead globalization (19), the United States has influenced many countries during and after the repair of the countries most victim to World War II.  The definition of cultural imperialism stands to state as the flow of culture being a one way street (20).

“In the post-World War II era, military-industrial communication corporations dominated transnational technology production and distribution, while the Hollywood studios and the Big Three TV networks (CBS, NBC, and ABC) ruled the world’s entertainment flow.” (26)

The United States took advantage of this cultural imperialism and United States media evolved into the global mainstream media, thus allowing for propaganda to occur.  Especially after WWII, America launched ourselves into the Vietnam War, proud from the victory in WWII.  A good example of the use of propaganda in Hollywood is the 1958 adaptation of the controversial novel by Graham Greene.  Originally the novel was written to emphasize the detriment our involvement to Vietnam.  Rather than its original anti-war sentiment, it is evident in the 1958 film adaptation that the United States administration during the Vietnam War.   It’s also unmistakable for a propaganda piece especially since it thanked Ngo Dinh Diem at the end of the film for his help.

From learning about History, especially in high school, it is empathized that propaganda is seen as a bad thing because those who used it were in a position of power to oppress a certain group of people or to send a certain kind of message that only supported the people in the position of power.  But we never hear ourselves, the United States, as the terrorist.  This is probably why Graham Greene encountered so much backlash when he published The Quiet American in 1955.

When writing about America being an American, it is hard for me to know when I should use the unanimous “we” versus identifying America as separate from myself.  I am an American, but should I associate myself to American history and to what I did not voice in?

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