...it's not dark yet, but it's gettin' there...

July 27, 2005

Over There

If you, like me, were impressed by tonight's premier of FX's Over There, there's one thing we should both remember. Forty Americans died and 426 were wounded, most of them seriously, in the real life "over there" this month. Actors get paid big bucks and go on talk shows when their work day is through. While those who have volunteered to protect you and me in Iraq and Afghanistan don't get that kind of fame or money, but their sacrifices are real.

i hope the show stays centered on the American experience. i was happy to see that they did not try, at least in tonight's episode, to put a human face on the enemy or tell "their side." Let Ted Koppel and his buddies at Al Jazeera do that; there's enough relativism in the media as it is. i also did not detect any overt political messages, either right or left.

i imagine some observers might be upset that not every character was Tom Hanks. i don't mind that kind of realism in war movies. As a war movie fan, i like the Adam Baldwins and Nick Noltes the best. These are the complex characters who may seem like assholes with less than honorable motivations, but they get shit done. i bet there are lots of them in real life and thank God for it.

i'm also not bothered by Over There's portrayal of soldiers complaining about the Army. i'm not a veteran -- and i know that many of my visitors are, so correct me if i'm wrong -- but soldiers always gripe about the military. And there's always some incompetence and poor decision-making in any organization. Hell, does everything run smoothly at your job? It doesn't at my job, that's for sure. People who point to mistakes made in wartime as a reason to surrender are simply people who don't know what the fuck they're talking about.

So overall, i thought tonight's episode was pretty good, and i would say that if the rest of the series follows the same tone it should help our war effort. Which is more than i can say about anything else i see on tv that's war related.

[cross-posted at A Western Heart]

* If you're interested, you can read about the latest disgusting media attempt to demonize an American soldier here. Also, you might be interested to know that a soldier who used a dog to frighten some detainees might spend more time in jail than the convicted LAX Millenium bomber.

Posted by annika, Jul. 27, 2005 | TrackBack (0)
Rubric: Arts


Judge Coughenour needs to be impeached for arrogance.

Lyunddie England faces 11 to 16 for showing her tits and this asshole tries to blow up LAX and gets a slap on the wrist and a lecture on Civics.

Better keep this from Leahy and Kennedy; they'll be recommending him to the President for the Supreme Court next.

Posted by: shelly on Jul. 28, 2005

Bochco is not the usual hollywood leftie, so they will probably keep it honest. BUT! will they be able to resist turning it into a psychological, existentialist, weepy anti-war piece of crap ala
"The thin red Line"?
I don't think they can resist.

Posted by: Kyle on Jul. 28, 2005

When I heard the M-bomber's sentence, I couldn't believe it. Plus, WTF, it takes five years to bring him to "justice"? All these fuckers need to be tried in military tribunals. The courts are incompetent to handle this.

"War Stories", how does one communicate that which the uninitiated can't understand? The thing they never get is the boredom, and discomfort. Nobody wants to watch that, and nobody wants to experience it.

Posted by: Casca on Jul. 28, 2005

annika, I'm not a veteran either, but I suspect bitching about your job is pretty much universal :)

Posted by: Victor on Jul. 28, 2005

You see, Thin Red Line is my favorite war movie. i don't think of it as an anti-war movie at all. i don't understand that criticism. i know Hugh Hewitt hates that movie too. But i think its only anti-war in the sense that all war is horror, not that we are wrong to fight, like in an Oliver Stone movie.

Posted by: annika on Jul. 28, 2005

Annie, if "The Thin Red Line" is your favorite war movie, you need to go rent some really good ones, like any John Wayne movie, "In Harm's Way", or "Sands of Iwo Jima" or any of another dozen or two.

No worrying about political correctness or depicting the enemy without hurting his feelings.

Just good old fashioned heroism and glorification of the American fighting man (no fighting women were there, except as nurses and WAC's, etc., but so what).

"Over*There" brings some reality current, as it shows the grit of the women, and that works better for us these days, but things have changed in "This Man's Army". I predict this show will have long legs.

Then tell me about The Thin Red Line. Ugh.

Posted by: shelly on Jul. 28, 2005

Sorry, kid, but I'm going to have to disagree a bit with your characterization of the Salon story. It might not be easy to read, it might raise some issues, but it's not a "disgusting media attempt to demonize an American soldier." It's a reporter a) doing his job and b) looking for his friend's killer. Should this sort of thing be printed DURING wartime? Should the soldier have talked to the reporter? Should the reporter have offered full disclosure that the victim was a friend of his? Tough questions. I'm sure the young man regrets his actions and will now probably regret talking to the reporter. Yes, the reporter had an agenda, but he did seem to try to paint a sympathetic portrait of the soldier and clearly stated that the "rules of engagement" had been followed.

Of course, from a legal point of view, it would be interesting to see if this reporter would go to jail to protect his source in the case of an investigation.

Posted by: ken on Jul. 28, 2005

I'm not sure The Thin Red Line is my favorite war movie, but I did like it a lot for the same reasons as Annika. It's not like it portrayed the Japanese as heroes, it just pointed out that war is hell and is fought imperfectly even when the reasons are right.

Ken, re: the E&P story (I'm not signing up for salon to read the original.) I thought it was relatively fair until the last paragraph, and that changed my entire perspective of it. When the writer tries to stick that last sentence in there about the soldier's feelings of guilt it seemed more like an attempt to project the author's feelings onto the soldier, not a legitimate attempt at reporting. Seeing how the entire paragraph is a quote from the Salon article there would have to be a good amount of information supporting the soldier to make me think it was doing anything but trying to demonize him.

Posted by: Trevor on Jul. 28, 2005

I experienced some of Casca's boredom and discomfort just trying to sit through "The Thin Red Line." Normally, I might make a mental note to rewatch a movie to see what the hell Annika's talking about. But that movie is so boring, I would rather stick needles ...etc.

Re: "Over There"

This is Bochco and Hollywood legitimately trying to be fair about the war experience. IMO, of course, they fail miserably - but at least they're trying, and that's something. I agree that, overall, this show might be a net positive in the "Struggle Against Extremism". Might. We'll see.

My biggest complaint:
Bochco portrays what soldiers' attitudes might be like if the soldiers had been DRAFTED and sent to Iraq. We have an all VOLUNTEER military.

Granted, there's always a significant amount of bitching, pissed off, and confused people in any such situation. But, to a far greater degree than was portrayed by Bochco, our VOLUNTEER military know why they are there, and believe in what they are fighting for.

Also, to a far greater degree than was portrayed by Bochco, our military can SEE why they are there, through interaction with and observation of the Iraqi people and the Iraqi nation.

The military tactics portrayed were beyond parody. One thing especially pissed me off, because this mistake should not have been made be the rankest amateur:
Americans do not spray barely discriminate gunfire from M-16s. Americans shoot two-shot groupings at a target. That's how you can tell Americans are in a fight: you hear the two-shot groupings being fired off.

Being from Texas, I had to laugh at this unconscious parody of Hollywood typecasting - which also comprised a writer or producers' obscene gesture at all things Texan:

The one soldier who knew damn well why he was there, and believed in the cause, and loved being in the Army, was from Texas. Bochco literally blasted that guy's buttocks off, and then showed his blasted off and hanging by a flap of skin buttocks on the screen. This is Bochco's F you to GW Bush, and his F you to every conservative Texan. I take it a bit personally, like a black guy watching another big-hat pimp show up on a cop show. So, F you Bochco. Right back atcha, you dumb-ass poseur. At least you opened with the Texas guy displaying tremendous virility. You got that part right.

Posted by: gcotharn on Jul. 28, 2005

interesting points, gcotharn. Since i don't have any experience in these things, i'm always hesitant to spout off about squad level tactics, with so many experts in the blogosphere. But i did find that one scene where the sgt says, lay down some cover fire until morning, or something like that, kind of weird. and i thought the new M-16s were limited to only 2 or 3 shot bursts and weren't fully automatic anymore. Also, regarding the morale portrayal, i'm not sure i agree that the characters were acting like draftees, not volunteers. But i would have found it more realistic if when the terrorist's body got blown up and his legs kept walking before falling down, some of the soldiers had let out a whoop or some sort of bravado yell. Thats what kids in an intense situation would do. Standing and staring in awed silence is what Hollywood writers would do.

Posted by: annie on Jul. 28, 2005

For a great many reasons I thought Thin Red Line was simply one of the worse movies I have ever seen, and ALL of my friends agreed with me. But, If you liked it, then you might like this show because the first episode had a lot of the same feeling to it. Plenty of angst and shithouse philosophy.

Posted by: Kyle on Jul. 28, 2005


If you want to see the comments of a bunch of veterans, go see Blackfive's post on it (at blackfive.net)

Posted by: JJR on Jul. 28, 2005

"weepy anti-war piece of crap"

Kyle, I don't know about you or what you have done, but the veterans I have spoken to come back from war distinctly anti-war. It is the men in power that have never been or seen who try to glorify the event. You do realise that you are not unique, kindred-spirits exist/ed in iraq, China, Japan, Germany, North Korea, who think that war is the way to get what they want. They don't think or don't know about the fucking raw horror of it all, perhaps Thin Red Line and its like are a very small step in this educational process?

Posted by: Ivan on Jul. 28, 2005

You know Anni, your site is like a really good cocktail party. Lots of smart interesting people, and always one fucktard to be a spectacle. I'll bet that Ivan gets his ass beat before he makes it to the door.

Posted by: Casca on Jul. 28, 2005

Ivan, I have a very realistic view of warfare, but being "Anti-war" is the surest way to get your ass into a war. Why dont you pick up a history book? Antiwar movements have historicaly led to weakening democratic governments and strengthing agressors.

Posted by: Kyle on Jul. 29, 2005

Hey Kyle:

Ever hear of Neville Chamberlin? He had nothing on Howard Dean.

The surest way to get your ass beat is to cower away from war.

As our leader has said, "We didn't start this war, but we will finish it at a time and a place decided by us".

You bet your sweet ass we will. For once, we are led by a man who means what he says.

If you think Bush is wrong, maybe you need to find a friendlier place to blog around.

Not much sympathy around here for that kind of a pacifist...

We all believe in peace, just our way to get there is different than the "Blame America First" bunch.

Enjoy your day; thank a G.I. today.

Posted by: shelly on Jul. 29, 2005

"I don't know about you or what you have done, but the veterans I have spoken to come back from war distinctly anti-war."

True, but most veterans aren't on the Left's bandwagon of military self-defeatism either.

Posted by: reagan80 on Jul. 29, 2005