Transmilitainment: Morocco’s Role in Hollywood’s War on Terror Films

Citation: Mahdi, Waleed F. “Transmilitainment: Morocco’s Role in Hollywood’s War on Terror Films.” American Quarterly, vol. 73, no. 4, 2021, pp. 767-791

Abstract: This essay examines Morocco’s role in the production of Hollywood’s “war on terror” films over the period 2000–2020. Rules of Engagement (2000), Black Hawk Down (2001), Green Zone (2010), American Sniper (2014), and The Yellow Birds (2017) are examples of a Hollywood trend of shot-in-Morocco films mediating US culture of militarized entertainment (militainment). The essay introduces the neologism transmilitainment as an analytic frame to make sense of how the Moroccan transnational support of US militainment is not merely about the monetary transactional relationship between Hollywood producers and Moroccan partners: it is about the economic, cultural, and political infrastructure of such support and its implications. If militainment is about the commodification of US state violence into pleasurable consumption, as Roger Stahl defines it in Militainment, Inc.: War, Media, and Popular Culture (2010), I argue that transmilitainment’s commodification of Morocco for this pleasurable consumption is itself an act of neocolonial violence. This violence ranges from the material effects of Hollywood’s fleeting promise of growth and prosperity in Morocco to the symbolic implications of both using Morocco to legitimize the US reductive logic of “war on terror” and repurposing Moroccan people, geography, and tradition into an Islamophobic visual repository for global consumption.

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