Jarhead still gets it wrong

By

I had previously criticized Jonathan Last's positive review of the Sam Mendes film Jarhead  based on Last's assertion that the movie 'got it right' on the Marines and the Gulf War.  Apparently, it never occurred to Last that one disillusioned Marine's experiences do not necessarily reflect the reality of the Corps, and a complex war that contrary to popular belief, lasted weeks, not 100 hours.

A column in today's Rocky Mountain News confirms my misgivings about Last's review.  Tom Neven, who served seven years as a Marine Corps infantryman, provides a much—needed counterpoint to another in a long line of Hollywood's propaganda pieces.  On Swofford's book, Neven says that it,

...is a silly political manifesto, too, asserting that the Gulf War was fought to protect "the profits of companies, many of which have direct ties to the White House."  Most egregious, though, Swofford relates an incident in which he threatened a comrade with a loaded weapon, twisting the rifle barrel into the man's ear until he broke down in tears.  Swofford deserves to be court—martialed for that.

As far as the movie is concerned, Neven says:

I served in three different infantry units over seven years in the Marine Corps, and I never encountered a unit remotely as dysfunctional or undisciplined as the platoon portrayed in this film.  Sure, many Marines curse a blue streak, and some are obsessed with sex.  And Mendes (with the help of unofficial Marine advisers) gets little details right, such as the way Marines talk or carry their weapons.  But the overall image is a deeply dishonest lie because it relies on a misfit like Swofford for its basic story.  It's unfortunate, too, that many people have gotten their impression of Marines from Swofford's book or will now do so through this movie.

Just because a movie has no overt anti—Americanism or anti—Bush tirade, doesn't mean we should rush to the theater in gleeful anticipation of Hollywood finally converting from the dark side; even if a conservative journal blesses the film.

Doug Hanson  11—15—05


 

I had previously criticized Jonathan Last's positive review of the Sam Mendes film Jarhead  based on Last's assertion that the movie 'got it right' on the Marines and the Gulf War.  Apparently, it never occurred to Last that one disillusioned Marine's experiences do not necessarily reflect the reality of the Corps, and a complex war that contrary to popular belief, lasted weeks, not 100 hours.

A column in today's Rocky Mountain News confirms my misgivings about Last's review.  Tom Neven, who served seven years as a Marine Corps infantryman, provides a much—needed counterpoint to another in a long line of Hollywood's propaganda pieces.  On Swofford's book, Neven says that it,

...is a silly political manifesto, too, asserting that the Gulf War was fought to protect "the profits of companies, many of which have direct ties to the White House."  Most egregious, though, Swofford relates an incident in which he threatened a comrade with a loaded weapon, twisting the rifle barrel into the man's ear until he broke down in tears.  Swofford deserves to be court—martialed for that.

As far as the movie is concerned, Neven says:

I served in three different infantry units over seven years in the Marine Corps, and I never encountered a unit remotely as dysfunctional or undisciplined as the platoon portrayed in this film.  Sure, many Marines curse a blue streak, and some are obsessed with sex.  And Mendes (with the help of unofficial Marine advisers) gets little details right, such as the way Marines talk or carry their weapons.  But the overall image is a deeply dishonest lie because it relies on a misfit like Swofford for its basic story.  It's unfortunate, too, that many people have gotten their impression of Marines from Swofford's book or will now do so through this movie.

Just because a movie has no overt anti—Americanism or anti—Bush tirade, doesn't mean we should rush to the theater in gleeful anticipation of Hollywood finally converting from the dark side; even if a conservative journal blesses the film.

Doug Hanson  11—15—05