-by Kid Bucket-
Hey ‘errbody, I’m back after a 9 day hiatus. The only explanation I can really give is that separating from the military and moving fucking blows. I quit smoking for three months and I am back up to 1/2 pack a day, so my lungs are loving it too. Sometimes you just have to show your organs who runs dis biatch.
So without further adieu…
WHAT THE FUCK IS WRONG WITH GLORIFYING AMERICAN SERVICE MEMBERS IN MOVIES?
I was reading this article recently, and while I am a raging liberal… well not as much raging as I am an Oatmeal Stout Sipping Liberal, I honestly couldn’t believe what was wrong with this “Military-Entertainment Complex” that David Sirota seems to have such a grudge against. He seems to have a problem with the military giving notes and editing scripts for the privilege to use their equipment and get military expertise to make war and combat films look more realistic.
“The result is an entertainment culture rigged to produce relatively few antiwar movies and dozens of blockbusters that glorify the military. For every “Hurt Locker” — a successful and critical war film made without Pentagon assistance — American moviegoers get a flood of pro-war agitprop, from “Armageddon,” to “Pearl Harbor,” to “Battle Los Angeles” to “X-Men.” And save for filmmakers’ obligatory thank you to the Pentagon in the credits, audiences are rarely aware that they may be watching government-subsidized propaganda.”
Yes, while there was an Army recruiting commercial that linked being in the military (clips of lifting weights and rappelling down an icy cliff face) to being able to form energy blasts and shape shift, find me one person who honestly thinks putting a reverse American Flag patch on their shoulder will give them special powers that don’t consist mostly of getting free drinks in airports. While I admit it was ridiculous to equate the two (like the Marine Corps recruiting commercial that equated recruit training to making it through traps of Jigsaw like proportions and then fighting a Balrog), unless you have been in the military you aren’t able to understand what was true about the X-Men/Army commercial. In my Marine Corps career I have found myself being able to do things I never thought I would be able to do (I can shoot any weapon system more accurately than just about anyone I know) and it is true that the little job one might find themselves in, however seemingly meaningless, is part of a HUGE picture that most people (even most service members) don’t ever get to see.
I actually did see Battle: Los Angeles in theaters, and if that movie had been made without infantry expertise it would have been unbearable for me and nearly almost every other service member to watch. First, it asks one very important question… WHO THE FUCK DO YOU THINK IS GOING TO HAVE TO FIGHT THE ALIENS? It sure as hell isn’t going to be Soccer Mom and her Desk-Jockey Husband backed up by their snot-nosed brood of children. It’s going to be the military, and they are going to have to work together and use the lingo (which was almost 100% accurate) to get the job done. One of the worst things about being in the military and a movie lover is that if a film doesn’t get everything right; from the uniforms to the lingo to even how the characters interact with one another it sticks out like a sore thumb because we are taught to make everything (especially the uniforms, oh god the uniforms are almost always terrible) correct and perfect to an extreme because we have to. If Top Gun (his biggest target) had been made without military help I’m sure a real Navy pilot would have found a ton of shit wrong with almost every aspect of the film, even the shirtless volleyball scene which has actually served to make Top Gun a laughing-stock of the military. I brought it up to a Marine Corps pilot once and asked him at what stage they taught a recruit how to check their watch while also flexing every upper body muscle. He didn’t think it was as funny as I did.
I can’t stand when people equate the service members with the wars they are made to fight (luckily that hasn’t been an issue recently, or at least I haven’t had any problems with people who do. I am also not saying that Sirota does either). In the movies he mentions, the only one that actually has to do with a real war is the Hurt Locker, which is coincidentally the only one in the listed films that is supposedly anti-war. Armageddon was a movie about oil drillers who were recruited by NASA to stop a meteor (THE SIZE OF TEXAS!) from destroying the earth, and either the effects on the fragile and impressionable American consciousness wore out in the 12+ years that film has been out or the propaganda never did the trick it was supposed to seeing as how NASA kind of doesn’t exist anymore. Pearl Harbor was about a war that already fucking happened and was portraying the attack on us (Yeah Michael Bay, screw you for making a film that glorified the people who died on that day. How dare you show that those people were heroes). Battle: Los Angeles portrays an ALIEN ATTACK which obviously hasn’t happened yet, but I could be wrong since I haven’t watched any CNN today. If he wants to go on a tirade against this invisible “threat” than maybe he should pick a better group of films as his example.
While I am coming to the defense of Michael Bay movies (I am as surprised as you are) I also want to say that I don’t agree with everything the military does and I also know that not all of the service members are good people (for a film about some crazy evil soldiers check out “Soldier’s Girl”, the story of the soldier who was murdered by members of his unit for dating a transsexual woman. It could be perceived to be anti-military in it’s portrayal of bigotry in the armed forces… if it weren’t based on a true story), because not all of them are. I have met some people that enlisted to kill things, and those people are obviously in for the wrong reasons, but they are few and far between. Most service members are kids trying to get their college paid for because Pell grants are getting smaller while the corporations are acting all corporation-y and getting richer by the second.
I will try to stay away from that whole fucked up business though, since it is obviously already covered by people who know more about the financial situation than I do… I will stick to pop culture and how crazy I think the Tea Party is, thank you very much.
If someone wanted to go after an industry that glorifies the military and therefore violence, why has he not picked out the military first person shooter video game market? Video Games are the fastest growing entertainment market in the world and first person shooters are the highest selling game type on the market. For example, Call of Duty: Black Ops has sold over 25 million copies since it’s release less than a year ago. In this game, you assassinate a Castro look alike in the first level while he uses a woman as a human shield (sound familiar Mr. Sirota? I remember you railing against the decision to kill Bin Laden and in this the player pretty much does the exact same thing). From there, the player acts out a number of Black Op missions that surprisingly have nothing to do with petting bunnies. It generally means you kill A LOT of people. Then comes the multiplayer, in which you actually kill other people while pre-teens hurl racial and homophobic slurs right and left and kill you with an assault rifle. Guess what else, these games are made WITH MILITARY EXPERTISE. Who do you think gives them tips on how to make it more realistic and make sure the guns are correctly rendered? It’s not Green Peace. What else makes these worse offenders at glorifying violence is that these games do not put the violence into any sort of moral framework. Most films that he has picked out (the ones that aren’t about blowing up meteors THE SIZE OF TEXAS! and actually have to do with war) attempt to put the combat into some sort of context. The characters are developed into real people and you feel it when they die. But not in the highest selling video game of all time. Nope. It’s kill all of these people and try not to get shot. Sometimes even shooting at the American service members (Medal of Honor was not allowed to be sold on military bases for that exact reason) which is going a little far if you really want to break it down. Like breaking down a meteor THE SIZE OF TEXAS! into smaller, less destructive, pieces.
You are implying that there aren’t enough films out there that portray the military while also not glorifying the military. This is the digital age. There are numerous ways to get films out there and distribute them without having to go through the Hollywood system, and people do it every day. For example District 9, while that wasn’t as much about war (as much as Battle: Los Angeles is), it was about taking South Africa’s history of Apartheid and putting a Sci-Fi (Not SyFy… never SyFy) spin on it. It was made on a shoestring budget outside of the system and became an award winning best selling motion picture. Film makers go outside of the system all the time to various degrees of success.
Trust me, I am surprised as anyone that I am defending the military and its supposed stranglehold on Hollywood’s portrayal of the military, but this is a ridiculous thing to be so upset about. Military films will always be made, pro and anti-war alike. I would like to ask him one question as well to Mr. Sirota…
What would you say if your son watched a movie like Pearl Harbor and then wanted to enlist?