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Michael Bay has become synonymous with balls-to-the-wall popcorn entertainment throughout his career. If there's one thing he does well, it's loud, bombastic action thrill rides. However, it now seems that his films have had a wider set of consequences than we could have ever imagined. As crazy as it sounds, we've just learned that his awesome 1996 film The Rock may have helped expedite the Iraq invasion in 2003. Yeah, you read that correctly.
A new report from THR seems to indicate that members of the British intelligence community actually cited Michael Bay's 1996 action thriller The Rock when presenting the case to justify an invasion of Iraq. Referred to as the Chilcott Inquiry, the report in question claims that key officials described certain biological weapons -- in this case VX nerve gas -- in a manner that feels ripped straight from the frames of Michael Bay's action romp. The report portrayed VX gas as a highly unstable agent transported in hollow glass balls -- the exact way they appear in The Rock -- and this description was seemingly used to potentially overestimate the threat posed by Saddam Hussein's hypothetical stockpile of biological weapons.
The problem with this description of VX nerve gas is that the Nic Cage thriller does not actually provide a proper representation of the weapon's nature. Michael Bay took numerous creative liberties with the manner in which VX is stored to increase the dramatic stakes of the film, creating something more fiction than fact. At best, this means that government officials misinterpreted a film to have real-world applications, and at worst it means that the initial reports were intentionally deceitful in order to expedite the Iraq invasion. The Chilcott Inquiry even goes to far as to implicate British officials as high up as then Prime Minister Tony Blair.
Does this mean that Michael Bay holds any measure of responsibility for the Iraq War? Of course not; don't be ridiculous. The Rock ultimately is a work of pure fiction, and the inaccurate depictions of how VX gas is utilized in the movie has become well documented over the last 20 years. At the end of the day, we're simply left scratching our heads at how genuine members of the intelligence community could cite something so erroneous as a justification for war. To put this matter into perspective, this would be similar to a government drafting measures against cyber terrorism based upon the events of the wildly inaccurate 1995 film Hackers.
Regardless of your politics on the Iraq War, it's hard to deny the insane nature of this revelation. If nothing else, it serves as a proper example of the importance of pop culture, and the manner in which something as seemingly trivial as film can have wide reaching implications. The Rock is a phenomenal thriller, but it's going to be hard to watch it in the same way after learning about this new development.