LOS ANGELES – Despite waging violent jihad against Western society and the value it places on art and entertainment, Islamic terrorist organization ISIS sure takes a lot of cues from Hollywood.
Described as a “Hollywood-style trailer” that “resembles the American movie industry," a new 52-second propaganda video released by the terrorist group draws on multiple action movie components, including slow-motion explosions and high-definition images, along with footage of American tanks, troops being bombed, and President Obama addressing the nation.
It even has a title and tagline – “Flames of War: Fighting Has Just Begun” – which flickers on the screen before it fades to black and the trademark line “Coming Soon” appears.
Other videos produced by the terrorist group also ape the Hollywood action movie genre as well as popular video games, complete with aerial shots and footage from a drone.
In August, Slate writer Joshua Keating noted that the ISIS video featuring captured American journalist James Foley, along with footage of an Obama speech on airstrikes edited to look like grainy security footage, was “reminiscent of the opening credits” of the popular spy thriller television series “Homeland.”
“This is all clearly an attempt by ISIS to try and copy Hollywood. Any similarities to shows or movies are intentional. They are trying to penetrate the Western world and by mimicking Hollywood they believe they can make some headway,” Glenn Selig, entertainment communications expert and CEO of The Publicity Agency, explained. “The fact that they copied this style knowing it would inspire news coverage shows they have an understanding of Western marketing and it seems likely a Westerner has been involved with it.”
“Flames of War” was released just hours after Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Martin Dempsey declared at a Senate hearing that U.S. ground troops may be necessary to conquer the ISIS threat in the Middle East.
Earlier this year, ISIS formed the media company Al-Hayat Media to specifically target Western and non-Arabic speaking audiences, distributing a diverse array of videos, news reports and translated jihadi materials in various languages. The high quality of the productions and lack of grammatical and spelling errors indicates that staff is versed in Western practices, is potentially seeking foreign fighters and recognizes the reach pop culture has on the world stage.
According to prominent military author and filmmaker Robert Young Pelton, these videos could have an impact.
“Videos are the most shared form of social media and contain a subtle undertone of being real,” he told FOX411. “The Internet is populated by a younger demographic who share via cell phones. The subtext of these videos is that jihadi’s are fearless against greater odds, want to die and that traditional militaries are powerless.”
But according to Don Bracken, owner of History Publishing Company and author of “The Worlds of War,” the inspiration ISIS has drawn from Hollywood presents an opportunity for the entertainment industry to actively denounce the growing threat.
“Hollywood’s indirect role is in the setting of the mood of the times with its darker and doomsday scenarios in many of its recent productions. They often illustrate little hope for the future,” he added. “This is an alert and challenge to Hollywood, because (ISIS) is moving in on their turf. Hollywood has to use its immense capabilities to counter that with productions that lampoon and mock ISIS with laugh-provoking storylines that entertain and illustrate.”
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