Hollywood & the Pentagon’s dangerous dance

Theaters of War: How the Pentagon & CIA Took Hollywood

“Propaganda is to a democracy what the bludgeon is to a totalitarian state.”

― Noam Chomsky, Media Control: The Spectacular Achievements of Propaganda

In the years since 9/11, the nonpartisan Costs of War Project estimates that US-led war violence has killed more than 929,000 people, including nearly 400,000 civilians, and displaced more than 38 million others. It also estimates that between 2018-2020 alone, the US conducted “counterterrorism” military operations in 85 countries and now has 750 foreign military bases spread across 80 nations. Yet few if any of these realities have received sustained attention and scrutiny in US news media.

The result has been a vacuum that Hollywood has been only too willing to fill with glamorized, Pentagon-approved portrayals of US militarism.

If you want to see how this works, don’t miss Roger Stahl’s explosive new film Theaters of War: How the Pentagon & CIA Took Hollywood. Drawing on the voices of combat veterans, journalists, media analysts, and the personal testimony of Academy Award-winning filmmaker Oliver Stone and others, Theaters of War provides smoking-gun evidence that in exchange for supplying producers with expensive onscreen hardware, the Pentagon and CIA have been allowed to scrub Hollywood scripts of anything that portrays the U.S. military and American-led wars in a critical light.

Theaters of War is an indispensable teaching tool for decoding disinformation and war propaganda, and helping students think critically about the hidden realities and costs of U.S. militarism.

You can watch Theaters of War now on the Kanopy streaming platform through your university or public library; purchase a streaming rental or subscription through MEF; or sign up to host a screening. To see if your university subscribes to Kanopy, click here.

Praise for Theaters of War 






Theaters of War is a must-see documentary.”

— David Sirota | Journalist and Academy Award-nominated Screenwriter


“An essential contribution to understanding how the military shapes the popular image and story of war. Should be required viewing for media scholars, concerned citizens, and casual media consumers alike.”

— Jonna Eagle | Author, War Games


“A high-impact documentary that the USA’s most powerful filmmakers and warmakers don’t want you to see. Confronts head-on the hugely deceptive images that help to promote one horrific war after another.”

— Norman Solomon | Author, War Made Easy: How Presidents & Pundits Keep Spinning Us to Death


“An impressively documented examination of the U.S. security state’s role in promoting militarism via popular media. Think propaganda’s the wrong word? Think again!”

— Stacy Takacs | Professor of English & American Studies at Oklahoma State University


Theaters of War convincingly argues [that] the Pentagon’s covert influence over popular culture can have a decisive role in raising support for divisive wars.”

— Jonathan Cook | Middle East Eye


“Lively, engaging, and meticulously researched.”

— Rebecca A. Adelman | Associate Professor of Media & Communication Studies at University of Maryland Baltimore County and co-editor of Remote Warfare: New Cultures of Violence

“This powerful documentary forced me to wonder: How many hours of my lifetime have I spent staring at movie screens and TV screens unknowingly absorbing DOD and CIA propaganda? Is this part of a military-industrial-entertainment complex? Theaters of War is a terrific teaching experience.”

— H. Bruce Franklin | American historian and author of Crash Course: From the Good War to the Forever War


“A tight, compelling, and straightforward documentary that is sure to grab audiences from the living room to the college classroom.”

— Douglas Rushkoff | Professor of Media Theory and Digital Economics at CUNY/Queens

Theaters of War exposes the entertainment landscape of Hollywood as the monopolistic propaganda arm for what is, by far, the world’s single most militaristic purveyor of cruel and wanton destruction, and the most dangerous institution on the planet.”

— Oliver Boyd-Barrett | Professor Emeritus of Media & Communication at Bowling Green State University

“By taking all this recently acquired knowledge from the highly specialized field of propaganda research and putting it in cinematic format, Roger Stahl and his production team have created a documentary with an outstanding potential for reaching the same masses of people targeted by the Pentagon’s marriage of convenience with Hollywood, an educational achievement for Professor Stahl and his crew.”

— Daniel Espinosa, “Propaganda in Focus”