There is an old story: “A Russian is on an airliner heading to the US, and the American in the seat next to him asks, “So what brings you to the US?” The Russian replies, “I’m studying the American approach to propaganda.”
The American says, “What propaganda?”
The Russian says, “That’s what I mean.”
If there’s one thing, we can all agree on, it’s that we love a good binge-watching session. It’s the perfect escape from reality, right? Well, lately something fishy in the world of entertainment has been going on – some shows and movies that are not-so-subtly pushing an agenda.
Yes, you read that right – propaganda has made its way into our beloved screens.
One Redditor asked, “What TV show or movie is basically propaganda?” The thread has thousands of comments, but we have selected the most fascinating ones for you!
Someone said, “NCIS: They never, EVER, make a mistake. The suspects are always evil, the methods are ALWAYS justified, and shame are always down to a few bad apples. The technology is wonderful and there are no budgets to overrun.”
Another commented, “I remember Gibbs’ most famous quote: “Never apologize, that’s a sign of weakness” lmao was that written by George Bush?”
Every episode is like a recruitment ad, making us think that joining the Navy is the best way to catch bad guys. Sneaky, right?
2. Reefer Madness
A person wrote, “Reefer Madness was literally propaganda.”
Another added, “A tale from my Boomer mother, paraphrased from memory: “They showed me this in eighth-grade Another responded, science class. Afterward, they asked, “Now, who here wants to try marijuana?” I immediately raised my hand, because I knew they were lying to me.””
The message? Smoke a joint, and you’ll be a raving lunatic. Spoiler alert: it’s not that dramatic.
3. The Wizard
A Redditor said, “The Wizard. And the power glove was bad so very very bad”
Another commented, “It’s really hard to explain how hyped up the Power Glove and how much of an utter disappointment it turned out to be.”
It’s not just a movie; it’s an undercover commercial for Nintendo.
4. Top Gun
Now, this one’s a classic propaganda piece from back in the day.
A user said, “Top Gun. Sr year of high school an Air Force recruiter showed this film to our class before his recruitment speech”
Another added, “This should be top answer, because its literally a U.S.-funded and Pentagon-cleared propaganda film”
Someone said, “Titanic. It’s just pure anti-iceberg propaganda. The iceberg was just minding its own business when Captain Smith just practically rams into it at full steam ahead.”
Another responded, “Titanic is super antisemitic. They straight up named the bad guy Iceberg”
It’s not just a tragic love story; it’s a sneaky promotion for cruises.
6. The Crown
A person wrote, “I have a conspiracy theory with absolute evidence and backing, that King Charles traded insider knowledge and/or access for a favourable portrayal on the latest season of ‘The Crown’”
Another commented, “They also really laid it on thick about his charitable contributions with The Prince’s Trust, to the point of a closing card saying something to the effect of ‘The Prince’s Trust has donated x Million pounds to charity and continues to blahblahblah…’ Like, why would they include that pretty irrelevant detail unless contractually obliged to make Charlie look good? Smells like a quid pro quo, imo.”
Suddenly, the royals are not so bad, and maybe that whole monarchy thing isn’t as outdated as we thought. Sneaky, huh?
7. American Sniper
A user said, “American sniper. It was more Propaganda of Chris Kyle though imo, military movies are going to show interesting military things, that’s nothing new. But Kyle had a habit of embellishing his accomplishments in the war, and their significance is played up in the final act.”
Another added, ““Not only will America come to your country and kill all your people, but what’s worse is that they’ll come back 20 years later and make a movie about how killing your people made their soldiers feel sad.” — Frankie Boyle”
War is complicated, but this flick simplifies it into a “good guys versus bad guys” narrative.
8. Law & Order
Someone said, “All of the Law & Order shows are part of a long tradition in the US, going all the way back to Dragnet, of pro-cop propaganda.”
Another commented, “totally agree. I saw something on Twitter once that said “I can’t believe that tv taught me that cops were the good guys, rogue cops who play be their own rules are the best guys, and police internal affairs are the bad guys.””
This show makes us trust the system a bit too much, don’t you think?
9. Undercover Boss
“Undercover Boss” is another guilty pleasure. Big bosses go undercover and discover the struggles of their employees.
A person wrote, “Undercover Boss. Good job you gave a sweet old lady money for her dying husband. Maybe try paying your employees a living wage.”
Another responded, “hour-long episodes of bribing employees with money and promotions to give good reviews on how the company’s bribe has changed their life. lots of fake crackdowns on how company policy can do no wrong and “it’s just not being implemented correctly.”
10. Taxi Driver
A user said, “After I watched Taxi Driver I shot Reagan to impress Jodie Foster”
Another added, “Didn’t anyone look into the fact that the parents of the shooter, John Hinckley, were really close friends to the Bushes at the moment when George H.W. was Reagan’s vice-president and thus would ascend to the presidency if Reagan were to die?”
But beneath the gritty exterior lies a subtle message. Travis Bickle, the cabbie, becomes a hero for taking justice into his own hands.
Someone said, “COPS was created with this intent.”
Another commented, “In the original few episodes they followed the cops home and showed their home life and as I remember it all of them were marriages on the edge of collapse.”
Have you seen this movie before?
Giant robots, epic battles, what’s not to love? But hold on a second – have you ever thought about the military love affair in these movies?
A person wrote, “Michael Bay Transformer movies. If they were any more hardons for the US military, you’d see Bay jerking off soldiers.”
Another user replied, “I’ve read somewhere that the US Army has a buget specifically for paying off Hollywood to make them look good.”
“24” is another culprit. Jack Bauer, the man of the hour, saves the day in 24 heart-pounding episodes. But here’s the catch – it’s a ticking time bomb of patriotism.
A user said, “24 was an endorsement for the military and intelligence communities’ war on terror and the patriot act.”
Another responded, “It was a shameful justification of torture. (Which we know in real life does not actually work.)”
14. Starship Troopers
Ever seen “Starship Troopers”? Bugs, guns, and futuristic warfare.
Someone said, “Starship Troopers, it was made just to get you to join the Mobile Infantry. Would you like to know more?”
Another commented, “You think of the little news clips as being satirical propaganda, but the whole movie is. Look at Johnny Rico’s entire character arc. He goes from recruit to almost-washout to war hero (who ever gets the girl … at least for a night) to squad leader.”
15. Mad Money
A person wrote, “Mad Money. Watching Jon Stewart take him down was almost worth Cramer being allowed that podium.”
Another added, “Dr Parik Patel’s advice to making money in stocks is to do exactly the opposite of what Jim Cramer says”
Sure, it’s about three women pulling off a heist, and who doesn’t love a good girl-power moment? But look closer, and you’ll see it’s glamorizing financial mischief.
A user said, “Mulan, the live-action one.”
Another responded, “It’ll literally starred an actress that supported the mistreatment of the Hong Kong protestors and the credits gave special thanks to a region of China that hosts Uyghur imprisonment camps”
They’re not just selling us a story; they’re selling us a whole country. Subtle, but not so much.
Ever notice how Chuck Noland, played by Hanks, is this FedEx guy stranded on an island, and suddenly, FedEx becomes his holy grail?
A user said, “Castaway – the longest FedEx commercial (and smartest) ever made.”
Another commented, “I worked at FedEx so I have a little inside info on that. The producers originally went to UPS but they refused. FedEx agreed to be in the movie as long as one package was delivered. It was hot sauce btw.”
18. Shark Tank
“Shark Tank” is not as innocent as it seems either. Sure, it’s entertaining to see entrepreneurs pitch their ideas to a bunch of wealthy sharks, but it’s a capitalist dream in disguise.
A person wrote, “Shark tank, look at these benevolent rich people come plead to them and maybe they will lift you from the muck for the low low price of a controlling share in your business.”
Another added, “Yea, and we don’t think that’s a good thing lol. And making a TV show out of it feeds the narrative that “you can make it in the big leagues, start a business and pull yourself up by your bootstraps” when in reality, success in a world governed by monopolies is almost impossible.”
19. Tom Clancy’s Jack Ryan
Now, Jack Ryan from Tom Clancy’s world. You’d think it’s just a spy thriller, but there’s a deeper game at play.
A user said, “Jack Ryan is the most blatant pro-CIA propaganda I’ve seen”
Another responded, “This was going to be my comment. Literally had CIA directors consulting on it.”
A Redditor said, “The anime Gate is a 24 Episode long Propoganda piece for the JSDF that pretty much makes everyone Japanese who is seen as a “hindrance” to the Military an antagonist and anyone who isn’t Japanese but doesn’t ally themselves with the JSDF a psychopathic villain that wants to destroy Japan (including the US, China, and Russia considering whole scale invading Japan to take control of the Gate)”
Another commented, “It shows the people behind the bureaucracy while also taking shots at the Japanese government for their horrific response time to crises.”
The story suggests that Japan is the savior when a magical gate opens, and they go on a conquest spree!
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