Many US films and television shows produced by the Hollywood studios in the past few decades, such as popular shows like 24 and Homeland, highlight the dilemmas and struggles faced by the US military and intelligence agencies.

But is Hollywood working hand-in-hand with military and intelligence agencies to legitimise their operations? Has it become a tool for Pentagon propaganda?

"To the extent that the CIA or other intelligence agencies have their fingers in the production of these shows, they're looking to legitimate their operations," says Roger Stahl, author of Militainment, Inc. "They're trying to address controversial issues. They're trying to secure congressional funding for the future. They're trying to send a message overseas about how powerful they are and whether their purpose is noble."

For Heba Amin, the visual artist who famously wrote "Homeland is racist" on the show's set, Hollywood helps to perpetuate stereotypes of Middle Easterners.

"Many people feel very frustrated not only about the ways they're being depicted in Hollywood ... but also, in turn, how that really affects real world politics," says Amin. "You can't convince an entire country to go into an illegal war in the Middle East without having previously convinced them of a certain kind of image of a bad guy.

"And Hollywood plays a very big role in perpetuating that image."

In this week's Arena, Amin and Stahl discuss the US military's close relationship with Hollywood.

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Source: Al Jazeera News