03 March 2010

Seeing Through American Delusions: No Glory in War

I've never been in the military. Neither has my father, nor was his father before him. Some of that is simply fortuitous. My Dad had a health deferment during WWII. Had the draft lottery not been canceled I'd have likely died in Viet Nam. I hope neither of my surviving sons ever join up or are compelled to do so. It is not that I don't want them to find some way to do good in the world. In fact, it is precisely because that is what I want for them - to have the opportunity to do good things - that the military seems a terrible option. Wars are sometimes necessary (although Obama's attempt to paint the Afghanistan debacle in that light is a bad joke) to prevent or end some bad thing. Preventing bad things from happening is not the same as doing something constructive and good.

All that is prompted by a 'review' of sorts of a new movie called "The Hurt Locker" about the ongoing and quite senseless Iraq War. I've not seen the film. You can find the entire review here, but I excerpt what I take to be the main point:

"War movies in general are great for what they are: entertainment. . . . But of course there is a darker side.

These movies glorify a situation that has no real glory in it. Turn to one of your relatives or friends who has been in combat and ask them what they think of war. I am sure that they will tell you that it is scary, gruesome and requires extreme intestinal fortitude. There are no Sgt. Strykers or Gunny Highways in the real Corps. We don’t have a director who can step in when all hell is breaking loose and yell, “Cut!” . . .

Please remember that when you watch a war movie you are watching stories about young Americans who went far from home and risked their lives; some of them died there with only their brothers in arms to witness. Hollywood is now taking our money by walking on their graves.

Maybe that’s extreme. Of course I understand why people watch war movies. I watch them, too. But I have seen my friends die and most of the movies just bring up very painful memories."

And, no, the piece was not written by some commie pinko. It was written by a guy who comes from a lineage of Marines, was a Marine himself, and nearly died in Iraq. I only wish some of our bellicose conservative cheerleaders, way too many of whom have never stepped near a battlefield, could see half as well as this guy.

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Blogger Stan B. said...

I too have no military experience (other than 12 yrs of Catholic schooling). But The Hurt Locker is not your average war movie. It does not romanticize war, or glorify its participants. It's major characters either want to get the hell out ASAP, or are so dysfunctional that they can't.

Some who have served have criticized this movie (like most of its genre) for its inaccuracies, but it does not John Wayne the war or "cause" in any way. It's a thrill ride for sure in that it puts you there as much as possible from a position of complete safety- a position you wouldn't want to replicate in real life.

03 March, 2010 22:49  
Blogger Stan B. said...

As for our chicken hawk leaders- all the "heart" of our greatest draft dodging "war hero" John Wayne, without the charisma.

03 March, 2010 22:57  
Blogger Jim Johnson said...

Ah Stan - Now I see from whence our affinities derive! Fortuitously, I escaped after only 6 years of Catholic School indoctrination and sadism. Mysteriously, I performed very poorly on the entrance exam for the only the Catholic High School in town.

03 March, 2010 23:05  
Blogger Stan B. said...

No mystery about it Jim- God was on your side!

03 March, 2010 23:22  

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