Such a cavalier attitude coupled with the box-office success of the Pentagon-approved Top Gun convinced studios in the 1980s that agreeing to military demands and, hence, making ever more militaristic films was a guaranteed formula for success. Consequently, between the release of Top Gun and the beginning of the Gulf War, the Pentagon reported that the number of pictures made with its official assistance (and approval) quadrupled, and a large portion of these action-adventure productions (quickly synergized into video games, action figures, etc.) were for teenagers.
Though many parents might have objected to such obscene Pentagon-Hollywood collusion, most had no idea it was taking place. Unlike the proudly Pentagon-financed-and-advertised newsreels made by Hollywood directors during, say, World War II, filmmakers from the 1980s on almost never tell audiences that they are enjoying military-subsidized-and-sculpted productions. Viewers may think they are watching a purely commercial venture when they are often watching contemporary newsreels.
“Over and over [Pentagon] documents are full of statements where they are targeting children to be future recruits,” says journalist David Robb, whose seminal book Operation Hollywood examined the ties between movies and the armed forces. “The children and the people who see these films don’t know this is an advertisement for the military.”
Enjoyed this piece about the modern history of pro-military and pro-war propaganda in Hollywood productions.