04 March 2010

Oscar special.

Isn't that all Self Important of me?

So remember that rant I made a while back about how Hollywood always (almost) gets it wrong with war/Veteran movies? I still think all that jazz is true. But with all the hullabaloo about The Hurt Locker and Oscar buzz and by the more famous MilFolk (here and here) and everyone who has ever  even BEEN to Iraq weighing in... I thought I would throw in my two completely unqualified cents (you know, seeing as how I've never been to war or Iraq... see? I told you: Self Important!).

I read an
interview with Jeremy Renner (the 'star' in the movie) the other day and it struck me as pretty accurate and reasonable. Amidst everyone shouting about how inaccurate it is... the ACU's instead of the DCU's that were standard issue at the time, the incorrect markings on trucks, the cries of "that isn't procedure!" (Bwahahaha!!! Yeah there have NEVER, in the history of this war, been soldiers who went against protocol and did stupid shit. PSAHW!), and "That wouldn't ever happen!" (again, PSHAW!)... Renner said this:
“It’s not an EOD documentary. It had to be as accurate as we could within a feature film. But I know some scenes my guys were saying ‘Dude, we taught you better than that.' ... I hope that they just roll their eyes at the Hollywood stuff, let that be what it is. But if it helps bridge the gap between these guys and civilians, helps show some of what they’re going through … I think there’s a lot of friction and ability to be able to communicate one’s life-and-death experiences. If even there’s a fraction of truth that they can use with their family or friends to help show that, then that’s amazing. ... The guys at Fort Irwin all pointed to one guy who would literally walk up to an IED downrange and kick it, and figure if it didn’t go off he won. That’s how he dealt with it. But that’s not standard military protocol."
Hmm. I think that is a fair point. Again, as someone who has never been there, I didn't watch the film with the mindset that this was some sort of action-thriller/documentary. Heck no. And I will fully admit that I would't know one way or another if the EOD techniques were sound or not (though I did notice the ACU thing, and it didn't really bother me)... I'm no military expert. But I feel like we all have to remember that it is and always will be, at the end of the day, a Hollywood Money-Maker.

Hell, I don't watch CSI: New Hampshire of NCIS: Tacoma or Bones or Grey's Anatomy and holler about how lab results ALWAYS take longer than that get snippy because that equipment was all wrong and how that diagnosis wouldn't come from a CT scan... THEY WOULD HAVE TO HAVE A PATHOLOGY REPORT FOR CRYING OUT LOUD!!!! I get it, it is a TV show and real lab work ain't that exciting... and you can't wrap up a tidy hour of television with the cast twiddling their thumbs for a week or 3 days waiting for results. Am I right? But have you noticed that many of the MilFolk reviews of this movie do JUST that?

The point is, I think the movie (KEY WORD ALERT!)
represented the general gist of living life, as an EOD guy, in Iraq circa 2004 (I know, as if I have any clue). At the very least, it put me in the general mind-space of the handful of soldiers portrayed. The bigger picture? It put me in the streets of Iraq in the middle of a war my husband fought in (this point, incidentally, is agreed upon by most Vets and is the word on the streets- the settings are spot on). It gave me a dose of perspective, a sliver of insight, a glimpse into what it might have been like for him. And that is more than any other Iraq war movie has done for me. A lot more.

Perhaps, in light of all the other crappy movies about this war (see: StopLoss, Brothers, etc), this is really quite a feat. Maybe this is simply a good first step. And maybe, just maybe, that is pretty damned good for a commercialized, for-the-masses, Hollywood Blockbuster.

A film professor (David McKenna, a film professor at Columbia University, via here) said this of the movie:  "Hurt Locker isn't as much about Iraq as it is about one soldier's addiction to war. It's a character study, an exploration of courage, bravado and leadership told through "a series of suspenseful situations. I suppose it could have just as easily been set in outer space." And I think that is the bigger point here (at least for me, as a non-Iraq veteran). This movie's draw, its interest, it's redeeming qualities lie not in the bombs or the tactical accuracies or the uniforms, it lies in the depiction of soldiers... as complicated people, struggling to deal with their day-to-day experiences, job requirements, and at-home issues. NOT as batshitcrazyinsane PSTD addled guys about ready to fly off the handle (see: Brothers, etc.).

For me, it was about the human experience of war... not wether or not the Bradleys are marked right. And best of all, it gave me a better understanding- even if only superficially- of what that experience was like for any given soldier. For a movie like that to be in the running for an Oscar? I'll call that a good thing any day of the week.

Have any of you watched this movie? What are your thoughts? 
(And PS: here is a link to
another article about this, much better written IMHO!)


HellcatBetty said...

Have you read about the soldier who is suing the producers of the movie because he says that it's based on his life and that he coined the term "hurt locker?" Stupid.

Mrs. G.I. Joe said...

I agree with what you said about it "representing" a part of something that really does go on over there.

I must say this before I go on: I don't watch movies like this. My soldier has been to Iraq and is most likely SF or EOD then SF bound so movies like this no matter how real or fake are not good for me to watch.

That being said, GIJoe has The Hurt Locker and has watched it many times. He said its probably the "closest Hollywood has come to being accurate."

My biggest problem with movies/tv about the war in Iraq or about military life in general is that civilians see them and then say garbage like "I understand your pain while he's away. I watched __________ so I get it." Um...no. You don't. That right there makes me wish Hollywood would give it a rest. I see what they are trying to do but in a small way it actually diminishes what military families go through. All that emotion and sacrifice can be "experienced" in a 2 hour movie or 1 hour tv special. I know not all cases are like that but that seems to be what we encounter more than anything. Its getting old.