War memories

Odd as it seems, this post is directly related to the previous one...though how I got HERE from THERE is something I shall leave to your imagination.

Since I moved to the apartment, I pretty regularly have the idiot box/boob tube/brain degenerative device or whatever you want to call the tv going quite often when not listening to Pandora.

Not that I don't love Pandora...but they cannot get it through their electronic skull that loving Gold City =/= loving the Gaither Trio...

Anyhow, I found a "new" station playing the A-Team, so I set it up to DVR and have watched/listened to several episodes.

For both people on the planet not familiar with the A-Team, the premise was simple; wrongly accused commando unit from the Vietnam War was on the run from the government helping every day citizens whom the government was unwilling or impotent to help.

Some of the paradigms surrounding the show are very interesting. Government officials are generally dishonest/untrustworthy, including government officials, cops of various branches, and the army.

The A-Team would be despised except their actions kept showing the revulsion America in the early 80s felt for anyone having to do with Vietnam was overcome by A) the good deeds the A-Team performed for the people in that episode and B) Murdock.

Howling Mad Murdock was driven insane, presumably by the horrors he saw and experienced in Vietnam. Yet he was portrayed as funny, charming, deeply caring, sympathetic and empathetic.

The show of course reflected much of the public thought of the time. Anyone who had taken part in the war was looked on with suspicion at best and outright hostility or worse at other times. Our soldiers had failed us in two ways.

First, they had taken part in a war that had come to be identified as being part of Imperialism in general and American expansionism in particular.

Second, and arguably more important in the degeneration of respect for them, they failed to win. America loves a winner and has no time for a loser...even if that loser is them self.

It did not help that many...not all, but a significant and noticeable percentage...of the soldiers in that war were under-educated young men unprepared either to research the right and wrong of the war...or their actions in it...or for the American social response to their participation in what became a deeply unpopular war.

So when anything relating to the Vietnam War was portrayed in books, movies, radio, news, or television, the slant was almost universally negative. Had the A-Team been war heroes instead of "wrongfully convicted" men fighting against the government, which was identified in the American mind with the government that had leftover cachet of being involved in the War, it is probable the show would have been rejected.

The only way to portray Vietnam vets in a positive light therefore was as rebels against either the War itself in some way, portraying soldiers becoming inhuman through their experiences (Platoon, Full metal Jacket), or the country having portrayed their men by a corrupt government knowingly leaving behind prisoners of war (Rambo, First Blood).

Positive portrayals were unknown and unmake able for decades.

This has changed as reexaminations of things have taken place. To be sure, heroes are still hard to portray in Vietnam, but various means have been attempted (We Were Soldiers, Rescue Dawn) with varying success.

Okay, so all of this does not exactly break new ground.

But what if the A-Team were re-made today? This time they would, of course, be falsely convicted of a crime they...did/did not commit in Afghanistan/Iraq/Cuba/Venezuela.

How would they be portrayed? Enemies of the government? Stooges? Victims? Pawns? Heroes for supporting the government or heroes for opposing it?

Would public officials be almost universally portrayed in a positive light...or as villains?

Instead of Hannibal Smith, master-planner paragon of virtue who kept his men alive and patriotic through an unpopular war, we would have what?

Instead of scheming, con-artist ladies man Templeton Peck we would have....what?

Instead of a war-torn mind keeping a tenuous group on reality through association with his friends and "war buddy family", how would Murdock be portrayed?

And what about over-strong, weak-minded gold wearing follower B.A? Go back and watch the show...you will see what I mean. A good-hearted man always protecting the weak and willing to do so for no money...but incapable of thought outside, "What's the plan, Hannibal?"

And what of guys like Decker, the good/bad General Stockwell, etc.?

In other words, how does society at large perceive the soldiers in the Middle East, the government that sent and keeps them there, and the returnees from the war?

What would a show that accurately captured the mood of the country look like? How will that change?

Note that this is a different question than how SHOULD the mood look.

It is an interesting question into the public, national psyche how the war will be remembered.

1 comment:

Riot Kitty said...

That's a good question...