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Old 12-09-2009, 04:14 PM   #1
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Meghan McCain-Why Does Hollywood Hate Our Troops?

I saw Brothers and I didn't think any less of any of our troops (actually it would be even more admiration for what they go through). He wasn't a "lunatic", he was just a scarred and mentally injured man. That happens. He wasn't a "whackjob"-and I don't understand the disloyal, etc. stuff. She honestly thinks that was the agenda of that movie? Not to mention that it was a remake of a foreign film.

What I felt at the end was just sadness at what some soldiers go through, but I still had the utmost admiration for them. Even if they wave a gun at their families in the driveway or do horrible things while held prisoner-it was obvious why he did both.


Why Does Hollywood Hate Our Troops? - The Daily Beast

"Brothers is the latest film to depict soldiers as deserters or lunatics. Meghan McCain says it’s time to celebrate our heroes with war movies that tell it like it really is.

This weekend I went to see Brothers, the Tobey Maguire, Jake Gyllenhaal, Natalie Portman film about a Marine serving in Afghanistan. While overseas, Sam Cahill’s (Maguire) helicopter is shot down and he is presumed to be dead—which leads his brother (Gyllenhaal) to make a move on his wife (Portman). (Before you continue reading, there are many spoilers ahead.)

I asked my mother if she would come see it with me, but she said she didn’t want to give any money to a movie in which the preview showed the soldier coming back home and waving a gun at his family in their driveway. I have to admit, the preview disturbed me as well, but decided to see the film anyway because I’m always curious about Hollywood’s take on our soldiers and the current wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Unfortunately, many of these films typically portray our soldiers as deserters—Stop Loss is another classic example of this stereotyping—or complete whackjobs.

In Brothers, not only does one of the Marines captured by the Taliban actually say that he “realized we shouldn’t be there,” but Maguire’s character beats a fellow soldier to death with a lead pipe. Sam then returns home to his family and goes AWOL trying to kill both his wife and his brother. I don’t care if every producer, director, and screenwriter in Hollywood is against the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq (and presumably most are), what offends me is the portrayal of soldiers as cowards and lunatics—driven to such lengths that they come home and try to kill their families. Obviously, post-traumatic stress disorder has become more prevalent in the military and clearly this is a problem that needs to be seriously addressed. But I believe these films add to the damage when they portray soldiers as disloyal, unwilling to serve, and against the missions themselves. In my experience, this couldn’t be further from the truth.

How many deserters do you actually hear about on the news? Not very many. Unfortunately, the thousands of stories about heroism and courage that could be told about our soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan are not in the interest of many Hollywood filmmakers, and so a real disservice is being done to these troops. These films only perpetuate negative stereotypes about soldiers and the military. At a time when support for the war in Afghanistan is dividing this country, I simply don’t understand why Hollywood insists on portraying our soldiers in such a negative light. If Vietnam taught us anything, it was hate the war, love the warrior.

Last Memorial Day in Arizona, my parents and the actor Gary Sinise hosted the screening of a documentary called Brothers at War, produced and directed by Jake Rademacher, who has two brothers serving in Iraq. In the film, Rademacher travels to Iraq as a civilian, chronicling the experience as he attempts to understand the motivation and experiences of his brothers at war. It is an honest portrayal of a man struggling to understand exactly why his siblings are motivated to serve and fight in a war overseas. Had my parents not hosted this film, I’m sure I wouldn’t have seen it, because movies like this don’t get the kind of funding or distribution that anti-military films get. I urge everyone to see Brothers at War to understand what it’s truly like to serve (and be the loved one of someone serving) in a war.

Historically, movies like Stop Loss and Brothers don’t do very well at the box office either. Brothers came in third this weekend and Stop Loss grossed a little more than $10 million. I suspect if Hollywood actually attempted to tell a story about heroism instead of desertion, perhaps they’d put more people in the seats.

But I have hope. Marcus Luttrell’s book Lone Survivor will soon be turned into a movie by director Peter Berg, creator of Friday Night Lights. The true story of a Navy SEAL sent to kill an al Qaeda leader in Afghanistan is one of the most amazing, heart-wrenching tales of heroism I have ever read. I hope Hollywood does both the military and the American public a favor by actually producing something inspiring to watch."
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Old 12-09-2009, 04:43 PM   #2
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An unpopular war is an unpopular war. Hollywood is only going to reflect that fact.

One might wonder, however, why Hollywood continues making such films -- Brothers joins a long line of anti-war films like Rendition, Lions for Lambs, In the Valley of Elah, Stop Loss, The Kingdom, A Mighty Heart, and Jarhead, all of which lost money, some substantially so.
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Old 12-09-2009, 04:48 PM   #3
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Apparently moral ambiguity is more interesting then overt propaganda lol who knew? Why do TV dramas hate firefighters, and policemen, and doctors? So much angst! Where are the normal, well-adjusted people?

Are these anti-war movies criticizing war, or just aspects of it? I saw The Kingdom and what little I remember did have a commentary on the US presence in Saudi Arabia. I think a good war movie has to have some conflict in the middle of it, whether it be in the protagonist or with the mission. I think WWII was the last war we had which was both "good" and where tactically there was doubt on whether Americans would make it. So Saving Private Ryan doesn't really question the war effort, just whether they can survive to extract Ryan before the Nazis come.....compared to something like Vietnam, Iraq or Afghanistan where there's no doubt we can annihilate the Taliban or insurgents 1 on 1. If there's little doubt they'll make it, a justifiable mission, and well-adjusted soldiers where's the drama?

Maybe I'm wrong, someone can point out where I haven't thought this through.
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Old 12-09-2009, 04:56 PM   #4
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I don't get how showing what can actually happen in war (War IS hell-no way around that one. Are there heroes and good things done? Absolutely) makes a movie anti-war. So not showing those things makes a movie "pro war", logically speaking?

Not to mention the fact that movies are supposed to have dramatic effect. Is Cuckoo's Nest anti-nurse because of Nurse Ratched? Is it anti-mental health facilities? The truth is that facilities like that have existed, and possibly nurses-exaggerated for dramatic effect.

I've seen Lions For Lambs, The Kingdom, Mighty Heart. I didn't really think any of them were anti-war or anti US (which is probably a more accurate description of what some people think about such movies).

I just thought Brothers wanted to bring some attention to PTSD. Even better is to watch documentaries about that, read about it. But if the movie just makes you stop and think about it then what's wrong with that? How often does the average person who isn't directly affected by PTSD stop to think about it?
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Old 12-09-2009, 07:34 PM   #5
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Originally Posted by MrsSpringsteen View Post
I don't get how showing what can actually happen in war (War IS hell-no way around that one. Are there heroes and good things done? Absolutely) makes a movie anti-war. So not showing those things makes a movie "pro war", logically speaking?
In any film, context is everything. Saving Private Ryan opens with a fifteen second shot of Old Glory -- the horrors of war which follow are thus meant to be shrouded in the context of patriotism, duty and sacrifice.

Quote:
if the movie just makes you stop and think about it then what's wrong with that?
There's nothing wrong with presenting a perspective or a point of view -- Sam Mendes identifies himself as a "bleeding heart liberal," and I don't think there's anything wrong with that. Filmmakers shoot their films from an inherent perspective or point of view. It's what makes good storytelling. He chose to tell the story of "Jarhead" because he wanted to tell a story about what happens when men who are trained to kill never get to. That's certainly one aspect of the first Iraq war, just as another aspect is that of heroes who went in and liberated Kuwaitis.

I do think it's interesting that, "Saving Private Ryan" aside, most war films that get made are those which focus on the brutal, ugly side of war -- and usually find no reason for it...which sums up most war films (Vietnam-era straight through to today). It's also interesting that audiences, generally speaking, haven't responded to such films. Perhaps we're all still too close. Perhaps movies about an unpopular war will always be unpopular. Or perhaps, as Ms. McCain points out, audiences want to see war films about heroism -- the production of which seems like a bit of a long shot. (And that may be a good thing -- the one film to try to put a positive spin on Vietnam, "The Green Berets," was terrible.)
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Old 12-09-2009, 08:58 PM   #6
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I do think it's interesting that, "Saving Private Ryan" aside, most war films that get made are those which focus on the brutal, ugly side of war -- and usually find no reason for it...
There is a nice side of war?

Have you ever been in one? I am honestly asking, because I find that statement of yours to be one of the strangest things I've ever read here.
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Old 12-09-2009, 09:29 PM   #7
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There are a lot of war films that play up the heroic side of things. They're called action movies, and I seem to recall they do pretty well at the box office. I think that reflects a larger picture about what American audiences flock to see.

I thought McCain's complaint was well-thought out and well-written. I wonder though, if what she's really asking is why can't the war movies be "pro-war" propaganda instead of "anti-war" propaganda. I think Nathan addressed that well--it's the POV the people making the movie.

Of the movies listed, I've seen a number of them. The only one that really came across as propaganda was "Lions for Lambs." It was so preachy, and worse, boring. Very much an antiwar film and not very entertaining either. A Mighty Heart, In the Valley of Elah. . .I don't know that they were anti-soldier. I definitely didn't come away with that feeling. "Jarhead" I saw too, but I don't remember much about it.
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Old 12-10-2009, 12:41 AM   #8
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Perhaps we're all still too close. Perhaps movies about an unpopular war will always be unpopular. Or perhaps, as Ms. McCain points out, audiences want to see war films about heroism -- the production of which seems like a bit of a long shot.
I find movies about a war that is still going on to be weird, but that's just a personal feeling...

Who are the heroes in this war? And would their true story really satisfy Ms McCain?

Tell us about the pretty side of war Nathan...
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Old 12-10-2009, 02:19 AM   #9
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He said "brutal" and "ugly". So pretty much any other adjective that is not synonymous with those two words could be inferred there. You guys chose "pretty"' and "nice"...

He even used Saving Private Ryan as an example, of which no issue was taken.
Is that a movie about the "brutal" and "ugly" side of war? Certainly it is. But it's also about sacrifice, liberation, heroism, survival and a host of other issues, some of these are are inherently brutal and ugly issues, some not. A man dies to save another man's life, it's horrible but it's also something else.

In Thin Red Line...I forget his name, but the character is in the middle of battle longing for his wife, dreaming of her. A voice over reads some sweet thoughts...which one is this, brutal or ugly? It's brutal and ugly why he's where he is at, no doubt but that's not what makes for good stories. If you infer the human aspect (if you weren't being disingenuous) you could see that any number of stories about soldiers in war time don't have to be entirely brutal and ugly.

It doesn't mean they'll be pretty and nice either, so why suggest that's what he meant?
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Old 12-10-2009, 08:11 AM   #10
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If you infer the human aspect (if you weren't being disingenuous) you could see that any number of stories about soldiers in war time don't have to be entirely brutal and ugly.

It doesn't mean they'll be pretty and nice either, so why suggest that's what he meant?
Stories about soldiers, sure, but he said:

Quote:
most war films that get made are those which focus on the brutal, ugly side of war -- and usually find no reason for it...
brutal and ugly side of WAR... So then I ask you, what else could he have meant? How would you show a war and not have brutality and ugliness?
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Old 12-10-2009, 08:21 AM   #11
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Many movies, especially old WWII movies were able to show both the ugly and the not so ugly side of war. There are heroic moments, some wars are actually worth fighting, and quite often you can find some really interesting plot points. A movie like Brothers (or Stop Loss or Jarhead) seem less like "war films" and more like dramas or character studies.

Bottom line - I like Meghan McCain and I wish there were more Republicans like her.
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Old 12-10-2009, 09:11 AM   #12
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taken.
Is that a movie about the "brutal" and "ugly" side of war? Certainly it is. But it's also about sacrifice, liberation, heroism, survival and a host of other issues, some of these are are inherently brutal and ugly issues, some not. A man dies to save another man's life, it's horrible but it's also something else.

...

It doesn't mean they'll be pretty and nice either, so why suggest that's what he meant?
Because individual heroism is not a side of war. You're right that it's something else, but it is the emergence of human spirit under terrible conditions - some people are able to rise above their situation, and sometimes in the hardest time you can see who the best people are. But that is not a reflection of much beyond what we as a people are capable of.

I read the comment about the ugliness and brutality of war to read just that; to me, anything that sterilizes that is really offensive. And while action movies and heroism are sometimes tales worth telling, maybe if people saw the brutality and were forced to watch it again and again and again, we'd all be a little less casual about "shock and awe." Just a thought.
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Old 12-10-2009, 11:42 PM   #13
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An unpopular war is an unpopular war. Hollywood is only going to reflect that fact.

One might wonder, however, why Hollywood continues making such films -- Brothers joins a long line of anti-war films like Rendition, Lions for Lambs, In the Valley of Elah, Stop Loss, The Kingdom, A Mighty Heart, and Jarhead, all of which lost money, some substantially so.


most of these weren't very good films.

SPR is somewhat patriotic -- of course, this is about WW2 and concentrates on the European theater, and is brought to you by the man who also did Schindler's List -- but what made SPR so popular was not so much that it was a John Wayne film, quite the opposite ("the longest day" is laughable in comparison), but that the quality of the filmmaking is extraordinarily high, especially in the opening and closing battle sequences. the cemetery stuff is by far the weakest part of the films.

there have been moderate hits from Gulf War 1 -- Three Kings comes to mind, a good film -- and Vietnam produced some popular films, but again, these were best picture winners like Deer Hunter and Platoon. war films tend not to be terribly popular unless they are extraordinary pieces of filmmaking (like SPR, DH, and Platoon), and that's when they become events and cultural touchstones and part of the country's greater "conversation" about it's own history and they get Oscars thrown at them.

so far, we haven't had a great film come out of Iraq. it's probably too raw. Deer Hunter and Platoon were 10-15 years after the fact, and made by men who were actually there.

imho, i watched Jarhead more for the shirtlessness than anything, and i was pleasantly surprised at how good A Might Heart was, i caught it on cable one night and got sucked in. Angelina is really quite a good actress.

as for Ms. McCain, i do like her for the most part, but i think she underestimates just how turned-off people are by blatant flag waving. i mean, honestly, was there a worse movie than Pearl Harbor? when it comes off like a government propaganda film then it becomes an object of ridicule.

i mean, who wants to pay $10 to see 2 hours of Fox News?
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Old 12-10-2009, 11:49 PM   #14
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i mean, who wants to pay $10 to see 2 hours of Fox News?
My parents.

I've heard really good things about The Hurt Locker, but I don't know that it's going to become a touchstone kind of film, because it sounds like very few people have even heard of it, much less seen it.

We'll see what happens now that the awards season is rolling out.
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Old 12-10-2009, 11:59 PM   #15
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I've heard really good things about The Hurt Locker, but I don't know that it's going to become a touchstone kind of film, because it sounds like very few people have even heard of it, much less seen it.


i think this is a good example -- this is supposed to be a great film, top-notch filmmaking, etc. i haven't seen it because i simply don't want to subject myself to 2-hours of near heart-attack inducing suspense about an all-to-real situation that's been the most catastrophic foreign policy decision since Vietnam. (i weirdly have the same issue with "Precious" -- i just don't know if i want to deal with such awfulness right now).

but i think that war movies, to be popular, tend to have to be, 1) really good, and 2) made with some time and distance from the event itself. otherwise, it's just too raw.
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