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October 08, 2007
Real American Heroes v. the actors who play them in movies and TV
Sean McCormick, a sophomore English major at the University of Wisconsin wrote this outstanding editorial regarding Hollywood's portrayal of our troops in Iraq and Afghanistan.
During and after World War II, Hollywood was more than willing to make films that helped the war effort and gave audiences a look at our brave soldiers and the battles they won.
Take "Sands of Iwo Jima," a 1949 film starring John Wayne. It shows the Battle of Iwo Jima where we see Marines fighting against the Japanese, as well as the iconic raising of the American flag on Mt. Suribachi. The film portrays the heroism of American soldiers during one of the war's most important battles.
In today's world, however, it seems that Hollywood is more intent on making films that distort the truth and slander our brave men and women. Given the downright hostile nature Hollywood has toward the war in Iraq, it is not entirely unsurprising that their films reflect that same attitude. Look at Brian de Palma's "Redacted," for example. It is a "docudrama" that is based upon the "Mahmudiyah killings" that occurred in Iraq in March 2006. In this incident, five U.S. soldiers murdered three Iraqi civilians, gang-raped a 14-year-old Iraqi girl, and killed her as well. Now, any reasonable person will realize that incidents such as these are not the status quo in Iraq and they do not go unpunished (three of the men have been sentenced to life in prison, the other two have not been sentenced as of yet). But according to de Palma, the event is "the reality of what is happening in Iraq."
Another film, "Harsh Times," takes a look at the life of fictional soldier Jim Davis, who returns to Los Angeles after tours of duty in the Middle East. In the opening of the film, we see soldiers in a desert area attacking Arab terrorists; one of the soldiers goes as far as killing a terrorist who makes it clear that he wishes to surrender (once again, this is supposed to be the norm). For the rest of the film, we watch Jim do drugs, kill people and cause general mayhem and destruction with his friends. He is clearly a psychotic individual and even goes so far as to refer himself as "a soldier of the Apocalypse." His unstable condition and predilection toward violence and death are due to his experiences in combat, which is naturally the military's fault, and is naturally true for many soldiers returning from combat, as Hollywood would have you believe.
Actor Tim Robbins, appearing on "Real Time with Bill Maher" this past August, said, "(The U.S. military) have killed over 400,000 of (Iraq's) citizens." This is a preposterous claim, and only someone who is already predisposed to thinking the worst of our troops could make it. The anti-war Iraq Body Count Web site's maximum count of civilian deaths due to the war is 80,333. That should say something about Robbins' attitude toward our military.
Hollywood seems to be aware of only the atrocities that have occurred in the war, which are few and far between. Much more numerous are the acts of heroism that our troops have committed. I think of soldiers such as Cpl. Jason L. Dunham, who was manning a vehicle checkpoint near Husaybah when a terrorist jumped from a vehicle and threw a hand grenade. Dunham threw himself over the grenade, sacrificing his own life in order to save the lives of the Marines who would have been killed by the blast. I also think of Lt. Brian R. Chontosh, who was leading his platoon south of Baghdad when insurgents ambushed them. Facing mortars, automatic-weapons fire, and RPGs, he had the driver advance into the enemy's trench while he jumped from the vehicle and fired at the insurgents. According to the citation of the Navy Cross awarded to him later on, "he twice picked up discarded enemy rifles and continued his ferocious attack . . . when his audacious attack ended, he had cleared over 200 meters of the enemy trench, killing more than 20 enemy soldiers and wounding several others."
Why are Hollywood studios not making films out of these heroic efforts? Because the studios are directly opposed to the war and the U.S. military. It is easier to make a film that portrays soldiers as being psychotic killers and rapists, which fits Hollywood's stereotype of an American soldier, than pay homage to the selfless efforts of real soldiers in the real world. I realize that a film itself is fiction, but is it too much to ask that Hollywood's silver screen storytelling reflect reality instead of the arrogant and slanderous attitudes of its glitterati? So far, the answer is a resounding no.
Amen. It's ironic that the writers, producers, directors, and actors who make millions from the blood, sweat, tears, and sometimes the lives of our troops consistently portray them in the worst light possible. And, there is a resounding silence from most of Hollywood when requests are made for contributions to support the men and women of our armed forces.
There are so many accounts of outstanding bravery and heroism, and they happen every single day. Those stories need to be told as well.
Posted by Deb at October 8, 2007 01:13 AM
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