Pentagon asks for help - from Hollywood screenwriters and directors
October 8, 2001 5:17 PM   Subscribe

Pentagon asks for help - from Hollywood screenwriters and directors. Hilarious, yet true. Some of the makers of MacGyver, Die Hard, Death Wish II, and Grease, among others were invited to "brainstorm possible terrorist events and solutions" and return this information to Army Brigadier General Kenneth Bergquist. Everyone's doing their part (including Spike Jonze).
posted by kokogiak (26 comments total)
Apologies if this is a double-post, the MeFi search seems to have crapped out. I just noticed it's on Fark now too in case any snarky folk want to point that out.
posted by kokogiak at 5:19 PM on October 8, 2001

Makes sense to me. You go to those with imagination, inventiveness to think "out of the box" . The professional security people seemed to miss the possibility of a plane becoming a missle (though in 1995 they were made aware of this in the Philipines I that instance, though they focused upon the hijacking and not the missle intention part of the foiled plan.
posted by Postroad at 5:25 PM on October 8, 2001

Ya know, I wanna apply for this, cause I think I'd make a pretty good terrorist, if given half a chance. I wonder if I'm going to get a visit from the fbi now?
posted by Doug at 5:26 PM on October 8, 2001

I find this totally reasonable and representative of the best of American pragmatism, except for the "Grease" part. Ah, the ol' "summer lovin'" trick? Death by overextended Frankie Valli falsetto?
posted by raysmj at 5:28 PM on October 8, 2001

i want to see david finch's 'events and solutions'.
posted by jcterminal at 5:30 PM on October 8, 2001

Ha. Next they'll probably start a program to go around to randomly kill spouses and children of top operatives, or implicate them in scandals, or get them hooked on alcohol, etc., so they can create the kinds of down-on-their-luck, loose-cannon antiheroes with nothing to lose who usually come to the rescue in these scenarios.

"Yippee Ki-yay, MF!"
posted by MonkeyMeat at 5:32 PM on October 8, 2001

Okay, maybe sensible, maybe reasonable, but funny, no? "We're under attack... bring in the screenwriters!" Maybe Spike Jonze can figure out a way to integrate Christopher Walken into things.
posted by kokogiak at 5:32 PM on October 8, 2001

Well, to create fiction you need to research reality. And although the end result is different in the case of Hollywood, the research and brain-power involved is similar to a real detective or profiler doing work.

It's like articles in The Onion. The stories might be fake, but the research and details that go into each story are rich and well researched.
posted by RoyalJack at 5:33 PM on October 8, 2001

This has been done by NASA before, using Sci-Fi writers, as far back as the Seventies, at least.
posted by Mo Nickels at 5:36 PM on October 8, 2001

Wouldn't Tom Clancy or Frederick Forsyth be a one-stop-shop for the Pentagon brass if they're looking for ideas?
posted by Rastafari at 5:45 PM on October 8, 2001

Talk about meta ... calling in the screenwriters to help defend the nation in a time of crisis? Haven't I seen this in a movie somewhere?
posted by sacre_bleu at 6:31 PM on October 8, 2001

i meant lynch. bleh.
posted by jcterminal at 6:46 PM on October 8, 2001

Great Idea.

Military types are not good dreamers. They are all about the box.
These guys can think up stuff better.
posted by brucec at 7:05 PM on October 8, 2001

The world is divided between dreamers and doers. Writers are dreamers and inspirers but they are not really doers. Miltary people are doers but not really dreamers or visionaries. They execute operational plans. Both are needed and to discount one as more important than the other is an injustice to both.

If you look at the founding of the CIA, many of the people came from Wall Street and Advertising. Military people are quite imaginitive as well but the rules of career advancement means that its usually the methodical doers who reach top rank. The dreamers get out early or don't bother to join...after all...screenwriting pays better and gets all the girls.
posted by AsiaInsider at 7:12 PM on October 8, 2001

These guys can think up stuff better.

Sometimes, though, it works the other way round. An article in the New York Review of Books about possible future terrorist threats may also inspire new "Outbreak"-style movies. Yeah, anthrax...
Its author is Richard L.Garwin and it's been posted ahead of publication. It reads like a bad movie, but doesn't so much else recently?
Thankfully it also provides some sensible solutions, for instance:
The first and most practical defense against biological warfare attack is to maintain "positive" pressure of filtered air within buildings. It takes a very small capital expenditure and a very small expenditure in power to provide a positive pressure so that normal winds will not infiltrate a building, and the anthrax spores or other microbes will be kept out. To do this the air intake to a normal building—whether an office building, an apartment building, or a private house—should be provided with a small blower that delivers air through a High Efficiency Particulate Airfilter (HEPA) at a rate that exceeds the leakage of air in or out of the building.

P.S. I'd front-post this but I'm on a sabbatical right now.
posted by MiguelCardoso at 7:34 PM on October 8, 2001

Well, it makes sense, given that both terrorists and Hollywood types operate according to some sort of logic of spectacle. (Insert point about Independence Day here.) I'm glad Fincher was there, seeing as Fight Club was full of inventive terrorism.
posted by D at 7:56 PM on October 8, 2001

Paging John Milius, white courtesy telephone please...
posted by alumshubby at 8:24 PM on October 8, 2001

Speaking of Fincher, I have a hunch that his new Jodie Foster vehicle The Panic Room is now destined to do gangbusters. Apparently, real panic rooms are now all the rage in Manhattan and DC.
posted by dhartung at 8:42 PM on October 8, 2001

I think the last place I would go to find people who "think outside the box" is hollywood...
posted by Kikkoman at 9:14 PM on October 8, 2001

eonline link to this story. probably (hopefully) more permanent than stink yahoo links.

and a comment on military people thinking "inside the box" - I don't know if that fits as precisely as you'd like. I think it takes some real capacity for a certain kind of creativity to plan military campaigns that are successful. predictability is an attribute an enemy can exploit.

just a thought.
posted by artlung at 10:04 PM on October 8, 2001

Heck, Tom Clancy was the first non-journalist, non-politician that I saw interviewed on September 11...
posted by calvarez at 11:07 PM on October 8, 2001

Milius shouldn't be at that meeting, he should be airdropped into Afghanistan. Look out! Gun-crazy, and thinking outside the box!
posted by D at 11:37 PM on October 8, 2001

I fear that the Pentagon is just trying to make the right contacts for when the time comes to sell the screen rights to the latest war.
posted by pracowity at 11:53 PM on October 8, 2001

The Larry Niven/Jerry Pournelle novel "Footfall" includes a plotline about Sci-Fi writers being brought in by the government to think up ways of defending against an alien invasion. It seemed ridiculous when I read it, but apparently truth is stranger (or at least no less strange) than fiction.
posted by Potsy at 4:28 AM on October 9, 2001

We just need to find a portal into Osama Bin Laden's brain...

Or maybe it was in the WTC?
posted by dagnyscott at 9:55 AM on October 9, 2001

will the Pentagon have to pay for the rights to use those Hollywood generated scenarios?
posted by tolkhan at 10:57 AM on October 9, 2001

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