I wasn’t going to post about the movie Act of Valor again unless I saw it, but though I haven’t, I have to comment on this issue of whether or not it’s propaganda.
Briefly: yes, it is.
Wow, how could I go and say that? I must hate America, huh? Well, no. The problem here is that “propaganda” doesn’t mean what people think it means. Most people think it means lying, when really all it is is trying to persuade people of something. All advertisements are “propaganda”. All stories with morals are “propaganda”. The movie Avatar is also “propaganda”, only for the opposite side that Act of Valor is.
Like I’ve said before, propaganda is just another word for “public relations”. It’s certainly possible to have propaganda that tells lies, but there can also be propaganda that tells nothing but truths, and just omits negative facts. There can even be propaganda that just tells it like it is, but with a certain “spin”.
Since everyone knows Act of Valor is a Navy recruiting film, that means it is also a Navy P.R. film, and thus propaganda. That doesn’t mean it’s lying; it just means it’s trying to persuade people to join the Navy. It portrays being a Navy SEAL as a good, honorable thing. And that’s true. It doesn’t dwell on the downsides to being a Navy SEAL, which also exist. I say this despite not having seen it because I highly doubt the Navy would let their people be in it were this not the case.
This doesn’t mean all propaganda is equal. There can be propaganda that promotes a cause that is on the whole “good” and propaganda that promotes one that is “bad”. But propaganda itself is just a technique.