Some shows and movies put their agenda right in your face: Transformers was made to sell toys and Camaros, Battlefield Earth was made to placate the space aliens that live inside John Travolta, and Alvin And The Chipmunks 3: Chipwrecked was blatantly advocating for the total genocide of the Danish people. But sometimes a TV show or movie's agenda isn't so clear, because it has been influenced at the highest levels by people you wouldn't expect ...
5 The Government Made Networks Add Anti-Drug Messages To Their Shows
Disney-ABC Domestic Television
In 1997, the Office of National Drug Control Policy decided that Americans weren't sufficiently terrified of drugs, so they got Congress to give them a billion dollars to buy ad time from networks. They then insisted that the networks do their civic duty and sell the time for half-price. Because when you run the whole country, every day is Black Friday.
The networks obviously wanted that space to be used for something more profitable, like ads for Windows 98 and Pogs. So the ONDCP made them an offer -- work anti-drug messages into the scripts of their shows and they could get their ad slots back. The networks made money, the government got their PSAs, and the people of America learned about the dangers of drugs from the best possible source: sitcoms!
Disney-ABC Domestic Television
"Remember, Billy, don't do drugs or you'll end up like Tim Allen."
The ONDCP came up with guidelines and a formula to figure out the monetary value of each "Just Say No" moment. This anti-weed argument on Home Improvement, where Tim Allen's son accidentally makes some compelling counterarguments, equaled $525,000 worth of ad time, this Sports Night monologue about the dangers of getting high and driving scored a $450,000 credit, and this 7th Heaven episode about how you should narc on your weed-dealing friend was only worth $200,000, because even the squares at the ONDCP know what boring looks like. Even The Wayans Bros. was paid for an anti-pot episode, which is ironic considering that an impossible amount of drugs is the only logical explanation for White Chicks.
Also white: The mountains of cocaine.
Sometimes producers were explicitly asked for anti-drug episodes, like when Chicago Hope, your mom's favorite '90s hospital drama that didn't star George Clooney, dug up an old script about a mass overdose at a rave that had previously been rejected for being irredeemably terrible. The ONDCP also reviewed scripts to portray drug use "accurately" (read: hyperbolically ruinous).
20th Century Fox Television
Kids who go to raves would obviously view these characters as authorities on the subject.
The number of shows with anti-drug messages tripled after the ONDCP started their initiative, but everyone involved insisted that this was all a complete coincidence. "We just happened to realize drugs were terrible at the exact same time this bag of money arrived!" Hollywood said, unconvincingly. Obviously, the initiative was a bust: After a few years, the ONDCP analyzed their data and cancelled the program, concluding only that they had vastly overestimated the persuasive power of Tim Allen.
4 The U.S. Military Supported Black Hawk Down In Exchange For The Removal Of A Rapist
The Pentagon and the CIA have offices dedicated solely to providing technical consultation, equipment, and other support to movies in exchange for script edits that make the military look better, which is how Top Gun became a recruiting tool for the Navy as well as vaguely homoerotic beach volleyball leagues. At first, Black Hawk Down seems like an odd project to support, considering it's about the Battle of Mogadishu, which is widely considered a first-class fuckup. What was supposed to be a quick raid to capture key militants descended into a daylong battle that left 18 Americans, two U.N. soldiers, and hundreds of Somali fighters and civilians dead. No Kenny Loggins power ballad could gloss over that.
The highway to Mogadishu's danger zone has significantly more corpses than it does guitar solos.
But the Pentagon liked how, in-between firefights, the characters exchanged grizzled, patriotic man-ologues that were the verbal equivalent of having an American flag shot into your chest by a T-shirt bazooka. They figured that regardless of the politics surrounding the battle, we should still be proud of the soldiers who fought it ... except for John Stebbins, who was later sentenced to 30 years in jail for repeatedly raping his 6-year-old daughter.
Yeah, it's hard to root for a violent, incestual pedophile, no matter how many stirring speeches he gives. The Pentagon pressured the movie's screenwriter to change Stebbins' name and, because they were providing military equipment and training to the actors, he had little choice but to agree. So John Stebbins became John Grimes, a rookie soldier who learns valuable lessons about combat, camaraderie, and most importantly, not raping children.
"Oooooh. Do not do that. OK, got it!"