Sunday, March 30, 2008

No Love Lost for Stop-Loss

If I wanted to spend my own hard-earned dollars to feel belittled or degraded, I'd go to a nudie bar. But because I prefer not to do that sort of thing, I stay away. And I'll quite happily stay away from "Stop-Loss" as well.

I recently saw a headline stating that "Stop-Loss" performed terribly in its first weekend at the box office. Of course, Hollywood will offer up a million explanations for its poor performance (America isn't ready to talk about the war yet, too serious, too painful, etc.)

But what if Americans are, collectively, just too darned smart? What if American moviegoers are way more sophisticated than Hollywood gives us credit for? What if we see through the veneer of the silly thousand-and-one negative stereotypes of returning veterans that are jammed into "Stop-Loss"?

I have no idea if the average American personally knows someone who has come back from Afghanistan or Iraq. But I would bet the farm on the idea that the average American is way more likely to have a close, personal connection to the war than is the average person in Hollywood who writes, edits, produces, or directs these movies.

If Hollywood made a movie about a platoon, a company, or, heck, a brigade that deployed to Iraq and gave it a reasonably accurate portrayal of the daily victories and losses, the campaigns to win hearts and minds, the heartbreak of escalation of force incidents at checkpoints, the strain on marriages and families, the loneliness of long deployments, and most of all, the daily heroism of the American soldier who earnestly and honestly puts in endless 16- or more hour days alongside the buddies to his right and his left, people might take it more seriously.

In other words, show people the good alongside the bad.

I've spent lots of time side-by-side with young, junior enlisted marines, sailors, soldiers, and airmen. None of them met some Hollywood stereotype of a dumb kid with no options or goals in life who just wants to "waste hajjis." In fact, most are far more plugged in to the nuances of Counterinsurgency (COIN) than is most of the chattering class back here in America.

If the Hollywood crowd actually went to see this for themselves, they might be surprised. In the meantime, they can keep churning out garbage like "Stop-Loss" and keep being surprised when American moviegoers say "no thanks."

1 comment:

Matt said...
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