The United States is enlisting a new recruit in the fight against ISIS: Hollywood. A photo of Secretary of State John Kerry on his Twitter showed his meeting in Los Angeles Tuesday with about a dozen studio executives and Hollywood insiders.
Kerry said he called the meeting to discuss ideas about how to counter what he calls the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) "narrative," reports CBS News correspondent Ben Tracy. But some are concerned he might be recruiting studio executives to help produce anti-ISIS propaganda.
A video that has all the hallmarks of a Hollywood movie trailer is actually a pro-ISIS propaganda piece produced by the radical Islamic terror group. Now the U.S. government is asking Hollywood for advice on how to counter that message.
"This is not just a military battle. It's a battle of ideas, an it's a battle of ideas between competing narratives," said top Kerry aide Richard Stengel.
Stengel was in Tuesday's closed-door meeting with almost a dozen film studio executives when the secretary of state made his pitch.
"Hollywood is one of the greatest competitive advantages we have as a country. It's revered all around the planet. It's our second largest export," Stengel said.
The film industry grosses tens of billions of dollars worldwide every year. And it's not the first time Hollywood has teamed up with Uncle Sam. The Pentagon worked with producer Jerry Bruckheimer in 1986 for "Top Gun," a box office hit that also became an effective recruiting tool for wanna-be fighter pilots.
Other collaborations have produced mixed results. Some critics felt the advice CIA officials gave to the makers of "Zero Dark Thirty" led to a film that excused controversial torture techniques. Variety's managing editor Ted Johnson said this week's meeting took a different approach.
"The government, from what I understand, is just trying to get ideas. They're trying to get ideas on how they counter the message that ISIS is spreading," Johnson said.
But when the messenger is just the U.S. government, some worry that message can get lost.
"The reason the United States can't be the brand behind the counter-narrative is because we have no credibility when we're talking about Islam," CBS News contributor and former CIA deputy director Michael Morell said.
It's something that Secretary Kerry seems to understand.
"By tweeting out that photo, he's saying, 'Hey, we're on top of it. We're thinking outside the box...not just a military strategy but a strategy of diplomacy, a strategy of soft power,'" Johnson said.
There are reports Kerry's meeting, which lasted roughly 90 minutes, hit on other topics as well including content piracy and how American "show business" is perceived around the world.