With U.S. unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs, or “drones” to the layman) once again filling the skies above a Middle-Eastern nation to rain death and destruction upon marauding Islamic militants, the Pentagon is teaming up with Disney to give these lethal sky-robots a much-needed PR makeover.
Following on from the enormous success of the “Cars” and “Planes” franchises, Disney, with official U.S. government backing, is set to release its latest animated feature,”Drones,” in time to claim total air superiority over the hotly-contested Christmas cinema-going season.
The star of the movie is Rocky, a heroic U.S. Predator drone who likes to take risks and break the rules. He is voiced by Tom Selleck, and his love interest, Frankie — a sassy, unarmed but plucky Global Hawk reconnaissance drone — features the voice of Ellen Degeneres.
In an era where unilateral American cowboy swagger has largely been supplanted by a more cooperative global approach to fighting — or not fighting — transnational Islamofascism, the movie dutifully features a supporting cast of hilariously stereotypical international drones.
For example, viewers will meet Jean-Luc, a cowardly French drone who’s equally likely to be found throwing up his wings in surrender as he is trying to smooth-talk Frankie back to his hangar for a night of oily passion. There’s also Otto, a ruthlessly efficient monocle-eyed German drone who obediently kills without discrimination or question; and Boris, the duplicitous Russian drone, permanently drunk on his own anti-freeze and forever crashing for want of serviceable spare parts. And of course there’s a moustachioed, stiff-upper-lipped British drone named Rupert, to be voiced by Pierce Brosnan.
The story centers around the rivalry between the maverick Rocky, given to delivering smart-alec wisecracks and wry backchat to his exasperated ground controllers at moments of high tension, and his stuffy UK counterpart, who’s a stickler for the rules of engagement and considers the idea of whacking terrorists without warning highly unsporting. The two are forced to team up in classic unlikely-buddy-movie style when Frankie is shot down behind enemy lines.
Amid the suspense of the covert mission to rescue Frankie, there’s comedic fire support in the form of the drones’ armament of lovable but rascally Hellfire missiles, with personalities that will bring to mind the minions from Universal’s “Despicable Me” franchise. They’re just as likely to crash the nearest wedding party or go careening into a mosque as lock on to a terrorist technical — with predictably hilarious results.
A Pentagon spokesman confirmed that Disney was receiving unprecedented access and cooperation from the U.S. Air Force, as well as contractors such as Raytheon, General Atomics and Northrop Grumman. “It’s fair to say that UAVs have acquired something of a negative reputation in recent years, and we hope this movie will change that perception,” Colonel Allen Cropper told the DG’s entertainment team in a telephone interview earlier this week. “We want to show young audiences — particularly in Arab and Muslim countries — that these pilotless robot aircraft have a human face.”
In conjunction with the military, Disney is producing a range of merchandise featuring everything from musical drone mobiles for the nursery to Hellfire thermos flasks. “We want to make young people forget about collateral damage and instead think about collateral funnage!” chuckled Col. Cropper, while adding that there would be something in the movie for the older members of the family too. “Modern women will identify with and feel empowered by the female drone character,” he said. “And dads will enjoy seeing terrorist scum turned into pink mist.”
Anti-war campaigners have greeted news of the venture with outrage. “This is just the latest example of the fascist military-industrial complex teaming up with the white, male-dominated entertainment industry to legitimize neo-con imperialism,” screeched Code Pink’s Medea Benjamin when contacted for comment by the Dandy Goat. Benjamin is currently hawking her own screenplay, based on a soon-to-be released children’s book about a whistle-blowing transsexual military working dog.