Black Hawk-Down: Adaptation and the Military-Entertainment Complex


  • Johan Höglund Linnaeus University
  • Martin Willander Stockholm University



Adaption studies, war, Black Hawk Down, Military-Entertainment Complex, MIME-Net, Popular culture


This article investigates the non-fiction book Black Hawk Down (1999) by Mark Bowden, Black Hawk Down the movie (2001) directed by Ridley Scott, and the computer game Delta Force: Black Hawk Down (2003). The article suggests that while the movie and the game must be studied as adaptations of the first text, the tools developed by adaptation studies, and that are typically used to study the transfer of narratives from one media form to another, do not suffice to fully describe the ways in which these narratives change between iterations. To provide a more complete account of these adaptations, the article therefore also considers the shifting political climate of the 9/11 era, the expectations from different audiences and industries, and, in particular, the role that what James Der Derian has termed the Military-Industrial-Media-Entertainment Network (MIME-Net) plays in the production of narrative. The article thus investigates how a specific political climate and MIME-Net help to produce certain adaptations. Based on this investigation, the article argues that MIME-Net plays a very important role in the adaptation of the Black Hawk Down story by directing attention away from historical specificity and nuance, towards the spectacle of war. Thus, in Black Hawk Down the movie and in Delta Force: Black Hawk Down, authenticity is understood as residing in the spectacular rendering of carnage rather than in historical facts. The article concludes that scholarly investigations of the adaptation of military narratives should combine traditional adaptation studies tools with theory and method that highlight the role that politics and complexes such as MIME-Net play within the culture industry.

Author Biographies

Johan Höglund, Linnaeus University

Johan Höglund is Associate Professor at Linnaeus University, Sweden and a member of the Linnaeus University Centre for Concurrences in Colonial and Postcolonial Studies. He holds degrees from Brown University, Rhode Island and Uppsala University. He has published extensively on late-Victorian fiction, contemporary American Gothic culture and the relationship between Gothic and Empire in Game Studies, English Literature in Transition, Continuum, and The European Journal of American Studies. He is the author of The American Imperial Gothic: Popular Culture, Empire, Violence (Ashgate, 2014), and co-editor of Animal Horror Cinema: Genre, History and Criticism (with Katarina Gregersdotter and Nicklas Hållén, Palgrave Macmillan, 2015), and Transnational and Postcolonial Vampires (with Tabish Khair, Palgrave Macmillan, 2012).

Martin Willander, Stockholm University

Martin Willander is Master of Comparative Literature and History and his research focuses on intermediality, narrative and Literature Didactics. He works as an administrator at the Department of Special Education at Stockholm University. He has also served asadministrative support to Linnaeus University Centre Concurrences in Postcolonial Studies.


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How to Cite

Höglund, J. and Willander, M. (2018) “Black Hawk-Down: Adaptation and the Military-Entertainment Complex”, Culture Unbound, 9(3), pp. 365–389. doi: 10.3384/cu.2000.1525.1793365.