Tuesday, March 02, 2010

Inaccurate and Entertaining ...

So, I'm reading that some members of the military are upset that "The Hurt Locker" is nominated for nine Oscars ... primarily because it's so inaccurate.

I'm not a soldier, nor do I play one on television. However, my father served in two branches of the military ... joining the Marines after high school, serving two tours in Vietnam, and several years later returning to service and eventually retiring from the Army. My father passed away in 2005, so I can't ask him his opinion on The Hurt Locker, but that's alright ... because I know what his opinion would be. Let me tell you a story ...

Years ago, when ThirtyWhat was just a teenager, I watched a movie with my dad. It's been twenty-five years and I have no idea what the movie was called ... but it was about two pilots that receive orders to drop a nuclear bomb on Russia. They have been given strict orders to maintain radio silence and ignore any future commands. They believe the world is at nuclear war and they have been given what is essentially a "last command."

But the thing is, it was a false report. There aren't any bombs going off ... the only bomb about to drop is theirs and if they DO drop it then it WILL spark a war. Over the course of the movie, HQ keeps sending them messages to abort; however, they are ignoring these messages. They were warned that false messages could be sent, therefore they were to keep radio silence and drop that bomb no matter what.

So the entire movie is based on the tension of wondering if the pilots will follow the original orders ... or will they disobey orders and believe that this is all a mistake. Again, I have no idea what the name of the movie is ... or if there were any other subplots. But what I do remember is the terrible argument my father and I had when the movie ended.

Spoiler alert ... the movie ends when they decide to believe the messages and turn back without dropping the bomb.

The entire movie, I'm yelling at the television, "BELIEVE THE NEW ORDERS ... TURN BACK!" All the while, my father confidently sat there and said, "Oh no ... they'll drop it. A soldier always follows orders, period." So when they saved the world by disobeying the radio silence order, my father was livid.

I was dumbfounded ... they saved the world ... and all my father could do was lecture me that they were wrong to do it. The debate went on for hours. Soldiers obey orders 100% ... if you don't obey orders, then people die ... you do not question orders. I couldn't make him see the irony in his argument ... that in this particular movie, following orders would've caused the death of millions of people. It didn't matter ... my father was a jarhead at heart until the day he died and the bottom line was you never disobeyed a direct order.

And so I know what my father would've thought about The Hurt Locker. Quite frankly, I doubt he would've even finished it. As I watched it, I could hear my father's voice in my head ... when the lead character throws away his headset, I could hear him barking that a soldier never breaks communication with his team. Over and over I saw situations that weren't just inaccurate, they were laughable.

But here's the thing ... The Hurt Locker isn't a documentary. It isn't intended to be. I understand that it's upsetting to see situations that don't necessarily mirror the reality of war ... but let's be reasonable. Did anyone watch Apocalypse Now and believe it was a real-life Vietnam experience? Did you watch Operation Petticoat and believe there was a pink submarine floating around out there?

Movies are movies, folks ... unless you're tuned to PBS and the director is Ken Burns, you have to take these things with a grain of salt ... sometimes a large grain of salt. A movie can be inaccurate and entertaining ... and Hurt Locker is proof of that.

His medal of honor pleased and thrilled
his proud little family group
While pinning it on some blood was spilled
And so it was planned he'd command F Troop

F Troop - Theme

No comments:

Post a Comment