15 September 2008

Don't believe everything you see on TV

There has been a lot of critical acclaim going around for HBO's new miniseries, Generation Kill. The story centers around the Marines in the First Recon Battalion in the days leading up to the fall of Baghdad in 2003. I've also read a lot of reviews of the show by people (often military) who think that it panders to the Hollywood stereotypes of what Marine snd Soldiers are: uneducated, violent, videogaming kids.

I haven't seen the show - and thus, cannot comment on it. However, I *did* just finish the book of the same name on which it is based (by Evan Wright). I thought the book was quite good - an unbiased (IMO) account of the experiences of those Marines.

The edition I read had a new afterword by the author which was very interesting - especially this part:

After the publication of Generation Kill, [one of the main character's] reference to Grand Theft Auto was cited in several news stories as proof that to the young men and women serving in America's armed forces, war was no more real than playing a video game.

In struck me that such analyses had it backward. It's the American public for whom the Iraq War is often no more real than a video game. Five years into this war, I am not always confident most Americans fully appreciate the caliber of the people fighting for them, the sacrifices they have made, and the sacrifices they continue to make. After the Vietnam War ended, the onus of shame largely fell on the veterans. This time around, if shame is to be had when the Iraq conflict ends - and all indications are there will plenty of it - the veterans are the last people in America to deserve it. When it comes to apportioning shame my vote goes to the American people who sent them to war in a surge of emotion but quickly lost the will to either win it or end it. The young troops I profiled in Generation Kill, as well as the other men and women in uniform I've encountered in combat zones throughout Iraq and Afghanistan, are among the finest people of their generation. We misuse them at our own peril.

Amen to that, brother.


math jedi said...

Not to make light of the situation, I'll second that "amen," but...


I don't think I want to know exactly what that is :-P

Mezzo SF said...

HAHAHAH OMG. what a horrible typo to make. I fixed it. lollll....thanks!