Mark Tapson

We should never lose sight of the fact that, no matter how entertaining a picture may be or how much money it may make, it can do our country a great deal of harm if it plays into the hands of our enemies.” – Samuel Goldwyn, Hollywood producer

In 2006, five American soldiers raped and murdered a 14-year-old Iraqi girl and murdered other members of her family. The participants were convicted by U.S. civilian or military courts and sentenced to up to 110 years each; the ringleader, Steven Dale Green, is serving life without possibility of parole.

This horrific crime, rather than any of the countless selfless and heroic incidents performed by the U.S. military in our current wars, served as inspiration for filmmaker Brian De Palma’s 2007 barely-fictionalized movie version called Redacted. De Palma may have been the director of such popular fare as Scarface and Mission:Impossible, but American audiences showed exactly how they felt about this vile denigration of our warriors: Redacted scraped in a career-killing box office pittance of $25,000 on opening weekend.

But don’t underestimate the film’s impact abroad. John Rosenthal at Pajamas Media reports confirmation that the Muslim shooter who killed two American soldiers and wounded a third at the Frankfurt Airport earlier this month in an act of terrorism was inspired by YouTube clips from Redacted. They were presented as actual footage – along with Arabic music, text, and voiceover – in a propaganda video posted under the title “American Soldiers Rape our Sisters! Awake Oh Ummah.” (The ummah is the worldwide Muslim community.)

For better or worse, Hollywood has been called the greatest propaganda machine in human history. But what propaganda is it sending out about America and fundamentalist Islam? About terrorism? About our military and the war effort? Are Hollywood’s messages promoting our values, cultural vigor and national unity? Or are they playing into the hands of our enemy, as Samuel Goldwyn warned against?


Mark Tapson

Mark Tapson is a screenwriter who writes about the intersection of Hollywood and terrorism.