In these programs, we continue our discussion of Nick Turse’s 2008 tome The Complex: How the Military Invades Our Everyday Lives.
In this program, we examine how the military exerts dominant influence over our entertainment activities and how that, in turn, both affects and bolsters the Pentagon.
We begin by “going to the movies.”
The synthesis of Hollywood and “The Complex” is summarized by Nick Turse in the passage below. It should be noted that the melding of Hollywood and the military is a foundation of the derivative synthesis of the military and the video-gaming industry–the focus of the bulk of these programs.
“. . . . As David Robb, the author of Operation Hollywood: How the Pentagon Shapes and Censors the Movies, observed: ‘Hollywood and the Pentagon have a collaboration that works well for both sides. Hollywood producers get what they want—access to billions of dollars’ worth of military hardware and equipment—tanks, jet fighters, nuclear submarines and aircraft carriers—and the military gets what it wants—films that portray the military in a positive light; films that help the services in their recruiting efforts.’. . .”
Indeed, the very genesis of video games in derivative of the defense industry: ” . . . . In 1951, Ralph Baer, an engineer working for defense contractor Loral Electronics (today part of Lockheed Martin) on ‘computer components for Navy RADAR systems,’ dreamed up the idea of home video games, which he termed ‘interactive TV-based entertainment.’. . . .”
The Hollywood/Pentagon/gaming industry synthesis is epitomized by the Institute of Creative Technologies:
” . . . . The answer lies in Marina Del Rey, California, at the Institute for Creative Technologies (ICT), a center within the University of Southern California (USC) system. There, in 1999, the military’s growing obsession with video games moved to a new level when Secretary of the Army Louis Caldera signed a five-year, $45-million contract with USC to create ICT, says the center’s Web site, ‘to build a partnership among the entertainment industry, army and academia with the goal of creating synthetic experiences so compelling that participants react as if they are real.’. . .”
The video game/Pentagon relationship has evolved into a fusion of the two: “. . . . The rest followed, leading to the current continuous military gaming/simulation loop where commercial video games are adopted as military training aids and military simulators are reengineered into civilian gaming money makers in all sorts of strange and confusing ways. . . .”
Author Turse looked ahead (in 2008) and foresaw a future that, to a disturbing extent, has become reality: ” . . . . Certainly, the day is not far off when most potential U.S. troops will have grown up playing commercial video games that were created by the military as training simulators; will be recruited, at least in part, through video games; will be tested, post-enlistment, on advanced video game systems; will be trained using simulators, which will later be turned into video games, or on reconfigured versions of the very same games used to recruit them or that they played kids; will be taught to pilot vehicles using devices resembling commercial video game controllers; and then, after a long day of real-life war-gaming head back to their quarters to kick back and play the latest PlayStation or Xbox games created with or sponsored by their own, or another, branch of the armed forces. . . .”