ClandesTime

ClandesTime

Podcast series with Tom Secker featuring film and book reviews and discussions and investigations into military and intelligence involvement in popular culture. ... Show More

Episodes

On this month's subscriber-only podcast I review one of my favourite films of all time - Starship Troopers. I discuss the film's dual narratives, how it is an anti-war film disguised as a piece of war propaganda, and why it was so misunderstood when it first came out. I outline my view that watching the movie is a lesson in how to identify and understand war propaganda, as well being an ultra-violent satire of fascism. I round off ... Read more

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Superman is one of the world’s most recognisable cultural icons. A symbol of human idealism, he has been subject to a range of political and philosophical agendas over the last 80 years. This week I analyse the ideas behind Superman, and how they have manifested and changed throughout the course of the films. From Nietzsche to the Nazis, from the postmodern condition to the Pentagon rewriting Man of Steel, this is an epic explorati... Read more

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Black Panther and Django Unchained are perhaps the two most successful movies featuring black actors in lead roles that Hollywood has ever made. But are they as radical as they seem? This week I analyse these films, how they operate as emotive fantasies for black audiences. Focusing in on the dual themes of violence and (in the case of Black Panther) technology I discuss whether their radical credentials are warranted. I also look ... Read more

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While it is now considered a Cold War classic Ice Station Zebra was a flop when it was first released. This week, I review Ice Station Zebra and analyse the development of the film, how it differs quite radically from the book, and why the DOD rejected an early version of the script, leading to a total rewrite. From the National Reconnaissance Office to the addition of suspicious Russians, this is a case study in how state-sponsore... Read more

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On this month's subscriber-only podcast I break down a 2016 interview with British political satirist Armando Iannucci by Chatham House, a.k.a. the Royal Institute of International Affairs. Topics include the EU referendum, the election of Donald Trump, the re-emergence of both Left and Right wing populism, how to combat fake news, the loss of trust in politicians, the relationship between politicians and the public, and the role o... Read more

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Vice has won awards along with praise from audiences and critics alike, but how well does it inform its audience about Dick Cheney? This week I take a look at the important material that Vice overlooked, or didn’t know about. From his rewriting of a key investigation into CIA black operations, to his support for President Reagan amidst the Iran-Contra scandal, to his mysterious movements during the 9/11 attacks, this is an explorat... Read more

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Osama Bin Laden’s death is the perfect postmodern event, in that most of the reports detailing how, where and when he died contradict all the other reports. This week I take an in-depth look at the Abbottabad raid of 2011 and the official story of Bin Laden’s death, analyzing some of the myriad contradictions and contrasting claims about what happened. I also dwell on the implications of our inability to find a consistent, coherent... Read more

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The 2008 Wall Street crash has inspired little more than a staccato response from Hollywood, with very few films taking the subject seriously. In this episode I examine and review two of the more prominent movies that cover this topic – The Big Short and Margin Call. I critique the films and their statements about the crash, in particular who or what they blame for what became a worldwide economic slump. I also offer my own thought... Read more

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March 15, 2019 0 sec

Public Enemies is a 2009 historical drama/thriller film that tells the story of the Bureau of Investigation’s manhunt for Public Enemy Number One John Dillinger. In this episode I examine the film, the politics of crime and the romanticising of criminals. I explore these themes in light of FBI documents on how they supported the movie and influenced the script, including making changes to protect the reputation of the long-dead chi... Read more

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George Crile’s book Charlie Wilson’s War is the most in-depth account of the CIA’s support to the Afghan mujahideen, based on countless interviews with inside sources. It tells the story of how a rogue congressman – Charlie Wilson – and a rogue CIA officer – Gust Avrokotos – joined forces to create an army of ‘techno-holy warriors’ to fight against the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan. This week I offer an in-depth review of the bo... Read more

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In this month’s subscriber-only podcast I break down the BBC’s Panorama episode on the Skripal affair.  One year on from the Salisbury poisoning, I offer comments and criticism of one of the most shameless pieces of British state propaganda ever made: Salisbury Nerve Agent Attack – The Inside Story.  I detail how the programme changes […](Read more...)

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March 3, 2019 0 sec

The Last Ship is one of the most popular cable TV shows of recent years, as well as one of the most successful pieces of militainment. In this episode I examine the politics of the show, in particular how it depicts a conflict between the US and China. I look at how the US Navy effectively co-produced The Last Ship, moulding and shaping it to suit their PR ambitions, and discuss why it has proven so successful in a period of more s... Read more

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Anwar al Awlaki rose to notoriety in the 2000s as a leading internet jihadist whose lectures and videos were very popular among the emerging Islamist movement. But his history with Al Qaeda, and in particular his contacts with the 9/11 hijackers while under investigation by the FBI, pose serious questions. Was Awlaki a terrorist, or a spy, or both? Was he working for US intelligence while acting as a spiritual leader to several of ... Read more

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The British government’s role in using the entertainment industry is smaller than in America, but nonetheless involves many of the same familiar activities. From helping provide ideas to the writers of Yes, Minister to exploiting the England football team’s success in the 1990 World Cup, the Thatcher government proved adept at enhancing their public image. In this episode I explore several examples of the Thatcher government using ... Read more

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In this month's subscriber-only podcast I explore several DOD-supported films and the files on them from the Lawrence Suid archive. Focusing in on Air Force One, Deep Impact, The Final Countdown, Firefox and BAT-21 I outline the script changes forced on the film-makers in exchange for military support, from removing an unlit cigar through to altering President Morgan Freeman's speeches so he didn't say that looters will be shot. ... Read more

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February 3, 2019 0 sec

The 1996 action thriller Executive Decision was an early example of what should be called ‘irregular war films’, pitting a team of special forces commandos against a gang of terrorists, on a hijacked plane headed for Washington DC. In this episode I analyse Executive Decision for it’s bizarre mirroring of elements of the 9/11 attacks, the political storm surrounding its release, and the influence the Pentagon had on the script. I... Read more

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I recently found out that Strub retired from his job as the DOD’s Hollywood liaison last July, though this wasn’t covered by any news outlets and the DOD didn’t bother to tell anyone. In this episode I go through some of Strub’s greatest hits – the good, the bad and the ugly, looking at script changes enforced by his office and reflecting on the consequences of his three decades as the military’s chief propagandist.(Read more...)

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January 17, 2019 0 sec

In my final review of The Wire I discuss how the core theme of season 5 – truth – plays out across several storylines.  From fake news to McNulty’s fictional serial killer to the Clay Davis trial, I talk about how the abusive institutions that make up a city’s control mechanisms encourage and reward lies, […](Read more...)

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Aimen Dean, born Ali Al-Duranni, was MI6’s spy inside Al Qaeda from 1998 to 2006. In this episode I do a critical view of his autobiography Nine Lives: My Time as MI6’s Top Spy Inside Al Qaeda, and how Dean’s story connects to other people and events explored in this series. I analyse whether this story is actually true, and whether Dean has gone from being a spy for MI6 to being a propagandist, and whether MI6 deliberately contrib... Read more

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Since the publication of National Security Cinema last summer, we have seen an uptick in the media coverage of the Pentagon in Hollywood, much of it originating with the Pentagon itself. This week I take a look at the PR efforts the DOD has embarked upon, about its own PR efforts in Hollywood. From Captain Marvel to Gerard Butler, this is a reflection on the power of exposing information.(Read more...)

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