Hollywood – Weapon of Mass Attraction or Weapon of Mass Destruction for America?

Introduction: The full name of the book is “American Idol after Iraq”, published by Blackwell – Wiley in 2009. The book’s author Nathan Gardels has been the editor of New Perspectives Quarterly since it began publication in 1985. He has written extensively for the newspapers and magazines since the mid-1980s and has also been a media leader for the World Economic Forum (Davos). In addition, he has given speeches at the Islamic Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (IESCO). Gardels has a degree in Theory and Comparative Politics from UCLA. His co-author, Mike Medavoy, has been very active in the making of a large number of Hollywood movies. Throughout his Hollywood career, he has also been active in politics. In 1992 and 1996 he advocated for Bill Clinton and in 2008 he was in favor of Barack H. Obama. He was born in Shanghai, of Russian-Jewish parents; He graduated with honors in History from UCLA.


In this must-read book, the authors primarily explain and discuss public diplomacy and Hollywood’s role in shaping it, primarily in the new era after the 9/11 terrorist attacks. The foreword is by Joe Nye, a Harvard professor best known for his notion of “soft power.” Once again, Nye claims the importance of soft power – Weapon of Mass Attraction – and recalls that not missiles and bombs, but American soft power was the key to the collapse of the Berlin Wall and consequently of the Soviet Union, the Evil Empire as Reagan called it. Nye believes that in the wake of the new century, American soft power is not as powerful as it has been in recent decades. It is because of the mistreatment of prisoners at Guantanamo and Abu Ghoraib prison by US troops. The world does not believe or trust the United States as before. Professor Nye argues that in the information age success is not simply a result of who wins the army (hard power), but also who wins history (soft power). Recall America’s challenge and problem with Islamist hardliners and extremists where it takes hard power to defeat them, but it takes the WMA to win the hearts and minds of moderate Muslims, who are the majority in the world. muslim world. He emphasizes the fact that democracy and human rights could be achieved much more easily with soft power with lasting effect. Obviously, the most important tool of soft power for the United States is its giant Hollywood and media industrial complex, which the authors discuss extensively in their script.


Hollywood, as the authors posit, has been the greatest dream-making and story-telling machine in human history. Unlike most countries in the world, America’s image is based not only on who they are and what they do, but also on how Americans present themselves to the world through their global window. The most attractive and glamorous output of this machine has been the image of America as the promised land of endless possibility and opportunity where individual freedom is at hand and society is always on the move. In its 100 years it has opened a new window onto the world in which America has been seen through it and Americans have also seen the world through it. Some believe that he has been truly successful in telling and selling the (version of) American history over the last 100 years. “America’s dreams – individual liberty, middle class, prosperity, social mobility, rule of law – which became the dreams of the world – were also portrayed by Hollywood.”

Apart from that, it has been used as a tool by the American government to fight against the enemies of “freedom”, fascism, communism. Even the author argues that during the most tense day and height of the Cold War, it was JFK who ordered Hollywood managers to turn Ian Fleming’s 007 espionage novels into movies. Apart from that, he mentions that in order to fight fascism and Nazism in the 20th century, Hollywood made the world’s first celebrity known, Charlie Chaplin, who minimized and underestimated the power of Hitler in The Great Dictator. He followed the Wilsonian ideal in the role of the United States in bringing democracy and self-determination to other parts of the world. These are samples that show that Hollywood in its life has used and has been used as a tool and actor for the political purposes of the United States. By creating world-famous roles like Rambo and James Bond, Hollywood has defeated its enemies, global enemies, and made it believable that America is the last savior of the world. Its values ​​are absolute and universal and necessary to save the human being and humanity. Consequently, Washington eagerly sought to use the influence and soft power of Hollywood at home to turn the people around for its own foreign policy goals.

But it cannot be generally accepted that America’s secret weapon, Hollywood, the greatest tool of soft power, is playing a positive role all the time. Not only foreigners criticize Hollywood for spreading violence, porn culture through its images in the world, but within the United States there are also those who rebuke and hit the film industry. Largely, Fukuyama states that he “is perceived as purveying the kind of secular, materialistic, permissive culture that is not very popular in many parts of the world, especially the Muslim world.” It is living without any responsibility that is creating the greatest tragedy of our time. It empties itself of a spiritual dimension. Many believe that Hollywood is not doing a great job of uplifting America’s spirituality and morality in the world to win the hearts and minds of the people, but on the contrary, Hollywood is sowing the seeds of hatred and loathing. in the world in general and in the Muslim world. particularly. Some, like Bill Bennett, Ronald Reagan’s education secretary, openly and notoriously charged that Hollywood is undermining America’s core values. This is much clearer when we take a look at the April 2005 PEW Foundation survey, in which almost 61% of Americans are concerned about what their children see or hear on television. Consequently, “soft power does not necessarily increase the world’s love for the United States. Soft power is still power and it still makes enemies.” If there is resistance to the military presence and occupation, there will surely be opposition and resentment to the cultural invasion and occupation. For example, even in Turkey, which is America’s NATO ally, the most popular novel of 2004, which sold more than 800,000 copies, foresaw a war between Turkey and the United States in which Turkey ultimately wins. . Even the American brand of secularism portrayed in movies has been a cause for concern among religious leaders in the West. Pope Benedict XVI raised concerns that aggressive secularism reflected in the media was eroding America’s religious foundations. He told the US bishops that “America’s brand of secularism poses a particular problem. It allows professing belief in God and respects the public role of religion, but at the same time it can subtly reduce religious belief to the lowest common denominator. The result is a growing separation of faith from life.”

Although the Noble poet Octavio Paz called America “the Republic of the Future” that always looks to the future and the new horizon that Hollywood has managed to create. But now, due to the democratization of digital media around the world, the future is not a gospel for American soft power and its culture. For example, although American soap operas are largely seen and seen from Malaysia to Canada, in South Korea, for example, 92% of television and video games are produced in the country and tell and sell their own stories.

In the age of globalization, we may be witnessing the end of the “end of history”, which Francis Fukuyama claimed after the end of the Cold War. Process and era of globalization, acceleration of modernity and postmodernity and diversification throughout the world. Singaporean diplomat Kishore Mahbubani makes this critical point in his book, “The New Asian Hemisphere: Global Power’s Irresistible Shift East” asserted that the great paradox about the West’s failed attempts to export democracy to other societies is that in the broadest sense of the term, the West has succeeded in democratizing the world. A key goal of democracy is to empower its citizens to believe that they are masters of their own destiny. The number of people in the world who believe this has never been greater. Even in China’s anti-democratic society, citizens have seized the opportunities afforded by the economic freedom they enjoy to completely change their lives…In global terms, there has been an enormous democratization of the human spirit.” The voting booth and the box office share the same public.Thus, Hollywood has been largely regarded as the muscle of the United States of America in public diplomacy to win the hearts and minds of the public as well as the elites. The trend of globalization and democratization of the media and the growing distribution of power in many centers – the rise of the rest – as Fareed Zakaria calls it – results in an environment in which Hollywood is not the expected and absolute winner of the development of communication technology mainly Internet and the rise of Netizen (network citizen), now everyone is their own narrated ers and filmmakers, which is greatly growing in number. people move to the same neighborhood, more and more people want to see and hear their own stories on the screen, see their own ideas and cultures have been projected and reflected on the screen, and then enjoy the latest offerings.


The authors state that, like Harry Warner, one of the founders of Hollywood, he believed that “movies should educate and entertain people.” The author argues that due to the changing challenges facing the world and the United States, the strategy of the media and Hollywood must change to face the problems of the new era. Some recommendations are given on the close cooperation of public diplomacy and mass culture. Some of them include the issue of sensitivity that must be considered in the media and Hollywood to promote empathic understanding of other civilizations and life forms. It is insane to try to impose the American way of life and the liberal model of the “good life” on the world. “Being able to put yourself in someone else’s shoes without prejudice is an essential skill,” as one Chinese cellist puts it. Among the recommendations are breaking the narrow-mindedness of the American public by promoting greater cultural cooperation with other cultures, promoting the exhibition of worthy American cultural products, raising the level of exchange in students and journalists and cultural figures as well, and creating a joint committee by Washington and Hollywood on cultural relations. They believe that it can work to restore the American dream and posture in the new age again.

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