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Anchored by Jake Tapper, The Lead airs at 4 p.m. ET on CNN.

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May 27th, 2014
05:49 PM ET

Hollywood turning its back on Obama? Movies casting drones as enemy number one

(CNN) – From a looming presence in the new "X-Men" movie, to machines gone rogue in "Captain America" and "Robocop," Hollywood has created its own role for one of the administration's most controversial policies, casting drone technology and mass surveillance as enemy number one.

"They're always the villains, they're always the tool of evil that is kind of the expression of anxiety of filmmakers," says journalist Andrew Romano, who reported on Hollywood’s so-called war on drones for The Daily Beast. The New York Times also reported on pop culture's grim spin on Obama's drone program.

In a second term shadowed by predator strikes and an NSA scandal, films are flipping the script on President Barack Obama, who was once a media darling.

"He still raises a lot of his money from Hollywood, but there are misgivings and they have sort of bubbled up over the past couple of years, and I think they have centered around a lot of his international programs," says Romano.

"(D)rone strikes, the president's terror suspect kill list and preemptive technology" were inspirations for "Captain America: The Winter Solider," the films' directors said in an interview with Mother Jones.

Criticism doesn't stop at the big screen. Worst case scenarios in Fox's "24" play up drones' potential dangers.

"The technology that was used to control your drone is going to be used in a massive terrorist attack," says "24" character Jack Bauer.

"The question is whether or not people are sort of tuning into these metaphors, these allegories, these underlying critical subtexts, or if they're just eating their popcorn," said Romano.

But who needs a metaphor? Hollywood stars John Cusak, Oliver Stone, and others used a PSA ad to voice their opinions of the NSA outright.

"We need to end mass, suspicion less surveillance," actress Maggie Gyllenhall says in the ad.

But does a familiar super villain have any impact on the approval of its real life counterpart?

"When you look at polls right now, it shows that Americans are generally fairly unconcerned about the drone program," said Romano. "If enough of these movies come, out and they're always casting the drone program in a negative light, you can imagine that people's perceptions would start to change."

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