‘RED 2’ Starring: Obama? Is Glib Use Of NSA Speech Marketing Or Manipulation? (VIDEO)

Author: July 11, 2013 7:41 am
The politics of the issue is serious. Its glib use in RED 2 media is crass... akin to using footage of bin Laden in a 'fun' commercial for shaving products. Image @ JobLo

The politics of the issue is serious. Its glib use in RED 2 media is crass… akin to using footage of bin Laden in a ‘fun’ commercial for shaving products. Image @ JobLo

Is it clever marketing with a sly propagandist touch or an inappropriate use of a current scandal for the glib promotion of a glib film? Whatever it is, it’s gotten people talking and that, clearly, is what the producers had in mind. The latest promotional spot for the upcoming movie, RED 2, starring Bruce Willis, John Malkovich, Mary-Louise Parker, Anthony Hopkins, Helen Mirren and Catherine Zeta-Jones, has been intercut with a speech President Obama gave recently in response to questions about the NSA leaks made by Edward Snowden, and the way the words are juxtaposed against the film footage creates the impression that the President’s veracity is in question.

Intentional or just… “fun”?

In looking at the way this spot is being promoted by various film publicity sites, I’d guess the publicist for the film company, Summit Entertainment, wrote up very specific copy to send out with the trailer, designed to focus attention away from the potential crassness of the ploy and onto just how “fun,” “tongue in cheek” and “humorous” it is to use a serious speech on a controversy of epic proportion that’s created global tension, cultural and political conflict (even here at Addicting Info we’ve covered Snowden from one side, to the other, to somewhere in between), and potentially jeopardized national security. This is the issue they’re using to promote a light-hearted,big studio romp with guns and espionage? Yup:

“Watch as domestic policy and entertainment are combined in humorous ways…” [MovieWeb]


“You’ve probably heard about a little bit of a kerfuffle the Nsa had recently when a private contractor named Edward Snowden let slip that the United States’ most secretive intelligence agency has built an internal spying infrastructure so vast that it seems like something out of a movie. It only makes sense, then, that a sequel to a movie about secret government operations would have a bit of fun with the government’s response to that leak. The playful minds at Summit Entertainment have intercut parts of President Obama’s speech about the Nsa Prism scandal with footage from Red 2 and the result is worth a watch.” [Movies.com]


“Summit Entertainment has chosen to have a little fun with their latest TV spot for the upcomingRed 2  which cuts in President Obama‘s speech on the latest Nsa leaks in with footage from the film. We think it works pretty well…” [ComingSoon]

[Emphasis added on all excerpts.]

Every word of that reads like a publicist’s handbook and, frankly, the sweat-equity put into making sure there were enough words like “fun” and “playful” gives away their concerns that people just might find the choice as offensive and inappropriate as… it is?

There will be some (there’s always some) who’ll say this is a non-story, a “kerfluffle” over nothing, and maybe so. But as I was watching television and the footage of Obama’s speech came on the screen, I presumed it was a news clip on the issue… until it became clear exactly what it was and I immediately felt annoyed and slightly shocked. The ‘playful’ cuts from Obama’s words to cars exploding and people talking on phones felt politically manipulative, particularly given the implication of dishonesty they conveyed. Personally, given the egregious nature of the Edward Snowden/NSA scandal regardless of what side you’re on, I cannot fathom anyone thinking it was a politic or appropriate marketing choice to make… but I’d guess whoever it was is a non-supporter of the President.

I’m all for having a little fun at the expense of our very public politicians when appropriate (Sarah Palin considering a run for the Alaska Senate comes to mind), but when a serious situation remains ongoing and of grave consequences, there should be a moratorium on its glib use in commercial media. It would be akin to cutting footage of Osama bin Laden into a ‘fun’ commercial for shaving products.

You watch, you decide.

Here’s the video:


facebook comments:


  • It is naive to think that politics doesn’t enter into movies when they show some clip from a politician- a presidential speech, perhaps. Or some Senator’s comments on a TV show. Anything that a politician does “in the public domain” is supposedly fair game, right?


    But all too often, the use in a Hollywood film of a presidential speech “in the public domain” is anything but an innocent lifting of some speech or appearance to help drive a plot point, most particularly when said politician is contemporaneous. No, it’s more than that. The appearance of the politician’s PR appearance on The View, let’s say, or maybe David Letterman or even SNL become themselves a plot point with a particular point of view: they become a sort of weather vane in which you can judge fairly accurately which way the film itself will lean: liberal or conservative. Democrat or Republican.

    Hollywood is not a vacuum: actors and producers themselves have political points of view. They use images of politicians to make political points and it’s done by both sides- liberal and conservative. But it seems that, lately, the conservatives have really been going all out insofar as Obama is concerned: 

The use of Obama in the film RED 2 could very well be be an overt swipe at Obama politically and personally. Maybe. It certainly would jibe with two of the major stars’ political views:

    John Malkovich: “However according to actor William Hootkins… Malkovich is “so right-wing you have to wonder if he’s kidding.”

    Bruce Willis: “I’m a Republican only as far as I want a smaller government, I want less government intrusion….”

    Quotes above are from Wikipedia articles on the actors.

    And who can forget right wingers and their anti-Obama, Michael Moore impersonating schtick in “An American Carol”, which featured such stalwart actors of the Right as Jon Voight, Kelsey, Grammar, Dennis Hopper, etc.? See for yourself at Wikipedia, supposedly part of the Vast Left Wing Conspiracy: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/An_American_Carol

    My personal view is that if a sitting presidential speech makes an appearance in a contemporary movie, it’s most likely for overt political reasons. Just a hunch…

  • I saw this ad for the first time last night. Funny? No. Stupid? Yes. And that’s just based on the bits of the movie itself, not the Obama speech clips.

  • I have no problem with filmmakers using clips from speeches of real politicians, as long as they do not manipulate the content, which is apparently what these film makers are doing. Any time you do that, you are guilty of making a political statement. I’m sure these guys know that.

  • Big Fat Hairy Deal.

    I remember when a certain Republican came out with a film about why folks shouldn’t vote for Obama.

    I think instead it just steeled their resolve to vote for Obama.

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