Hollywood’s War

The Hollywood war movie is a staple of American popular culture.
Each new combative film, no matter the position on war, displays
stunningly high-tech battle scenes — which Carl Boggs, co-author
of
The Hollywood War Machine: US Militarism and
Popular Culture
, says is contributing to the
depersonalization of violence and war in America. In an
interview with? the alt-weekly
Sacramento News & Review, Boggs
points out that just about every Hollywood combat movie, whether
its anti-war (Platoon), a war tribute (Pearl
Harbor
), or just a shoot-’em-up (Terminator),
glorifies violence by indulging in special effects spectacle.
The films’ high-tech portrayals of violence inure viewers to the
US military’s war campaigns overseas. ‘If you think about the
celebrated ‘shock and awe’ tactics that initiated the recent
Iraq war in March 2003,’ says Boggs, ‘the media just fell in
love with this, because it was very telegenic.’

Writing for
Time, Richard Corliss lodges another
complaint against today’s war movies, or lack thereof. Hollywood
has failed to address the concerns of a country mired in ‘the
so-called war on terror.’ While filmmakers from the ’40s jumped
to tell the day’s war stories, today’s Hollywood sticks to
‘hymns of tribute’ (World Trade Center, United 93) if
it says anything at all. Corliss suggests that Hollywood’s
conspicuous absence during today’s conflict could be due to the
divided American opinion of the current war, the lack of ‘easily
dramatizable battles,’ that too few Americans are actually
touched by the war, or that movies just don’t carry the same
pop-cultural weight they used to.

So if Hollywood is demurring to address the conflict of the day,
does that mean the end of war movies? Far from it if you expand
your viewing to include independent documentaries. Leif Utne
provides a helpful viewing list in the
January/February
issue of Utne
($$). And in
The Capital Times, Rob Thomas
highlights Deborah Scranton’s revolutionary documentary
The War Tapes as compelling and
‘absolutely apolitical.’ Scranton handed out cameras to soldiers
in an attempt to ‘get inside the experience of war’ — an
experience currently unavailable to metroplex moviegoers.

Go there >>
Hollywood War Machine

Go there too >>
Where Are the War Movies?
Apolitical ‘War Tapes’ Compelling

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