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Kerry Heads to Hollywood to Battle ISIS

Kerry Heads to Hollywood to Battle ISIS
Is the Obama administration pinning hopes on Hollywood? (AP)

James Hirsen By Monday, 22 February 2016 10:05 AM EST Current | Bio | Archive

John Kerry recently traveled to Hollywood to meet with a dozen industry executives.

Ostensibly, the secretary of state went to seek advice on how to win the battle against Isis.

Kerry sat down with a virtual Who’s Who of the entertainment business, which included NBCUniversal Vice Chairman Ron Meyer, Chairman of Universal Filmed Entertainment Group Jeff Shell, Universal Pictures President Jimmy Horowitz, Motion Picture Association of America Chairman and former U.S. Senator Chris Dodd, Warner Bros. CEO Kevin Tsujihara, and DreamWorks Animation CEO Jeffrey Katzenberg.

The one and a half-hour meeting, which took place at Universal Studios, was organized by Shell, who in addition to being a Universal executive is also the chairman of the Broadcasting Board of Governors, a body of which Kerry is a member.

The meeting with some of Hollywood’s top power players was reportedly at the behest of Kerry. After the gathering, Kerry made the following revelation via his twitter account: “Great convo w studio execs in LA. Good to hear their perspectives & ideas of how to counter #Daesh [ISIS] narrative.”

Along with the tweet, Kerry attached a photo of participants who were present.

The State Department defended the necessity for the high-level meeting. Under Secretary of State for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs Rick Stengel, who attended the closed-door meeting, told CBS, “This is not just a military battle. It’s a battle of ideas, and it's a battle of ideas between competing narratives.”

“Hollywood is one of the greatest competitive advantages we have as a country. It’s revered all around the planet. It’s our second largest export,” Stengel added.

State Department spokesman Mark Toner suggested to reporters that the meeting had strategic value.

“He [Kerry] had a chance to meet with a number of senior executives in the entertainment industry,” Toner said. “These are the people, I think, widely recognized who are some of the best communicators out there, and they run a highly profitable industry that is expert at conveying messages to a worldwide audience.”

Interestingly, the lion’s share of executives who consulted with Kerry have been major contributors to Democrats, and Dodd, who is a former Democrat senator, is currently the biggest Hollywood lobbyist in Washington, D.C.

Execs in attendance leaked to the Wrap, an entertainment industry trade publication, that the topics discussed at the Hollywood-Kerry confab included countering ISIS narratives, perception overseas of the “American brand,” and, of course, Hollywood's pet policy issue of Internet piracy.

However, according to the entertainment execs, no commitments were made and no concrete ideas were forthcoming from the gathering.

The whole idea of the meeting raises the question, Could Hollywood hold the answer to fighting ISIS?

Studio executives certainly do have skills in the selection of projects, but they generally are members of the business class. On the other hand, some of the finest communicators and top-notch storytellers call Tinseltown home. These are the folks who are part of the creative community.

Now according to studies that are being conducted at the University of Chicago, the content of ISIS recruiting videos use the same plotting formula as Hollywood movie scripts.

Researchers have discovered that ISIS propaganda videos follow a widely circulated memo on story construction, which screenwriters have actually utilized for decades. The seven-page studio memo, which was originally penned by Hollywood development executive Christopher Vogler, is titled “A Practical Guide to The Hero with a Thousand Faces.”

After analyzing hundreds of videos produced by terrorist groups, researchers determined that the terrorist videos in question followed the 12-step approach to plot creation found in the Vogler memo.

Much like “Star Wars” creator George Lucas, Vogler incorporated the works of famed mythologist Joseph Campbell, including his seminal book “The Hero with a Thousand Faces.”

Vogler used Campbell’s work as a springboard for the creation of his Hollywood screenwriters’ memo. In turn, Campbell was deeply influenced by psychologist Carl Jung, whose Archetype theory postulates that the characters appearing in myths of all cultures are part of the “collective unconscious” common to mankind as a whole.

The story technique, also known as “The Hero's Journey,” features an archetype known as “the hero,” a protagonist who performs great deeds on behalf of a group, nation, or all mankind.

ISIS may have taught itself Hollywood techniques of storytelling, but the defeat of the terrorist group necessitates a particular kind of plot; that is, one that involves the group’s demise at the hands of the U.S. military and its allies.

James Hirsen, J.D., M.A., in media psychology, is a New York Times best-selling author, media analyst, and law professor. Visit Newsmax TV Hollywood. Read more reports from James Hirsen — Click Here Now.

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The whole idea of the meeting raises the question, Could Hollywood hold the answer to fighting ISIS?
isis, kerry
Monday, 22 February 2016 10:05 AM
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