GENERATION KILL |
July 18, 2008
Name: Army Girl
Posting date: 7/18/08
Returned from: Afghanistan
Milblog url: desertphoenix.blogspot.com
This evening I attended a Campus Progress special screening of HBO's contribution to the wars of our time: Generation Kill. The miniseries is based on the same-titled book written by Evan Wright, one of the first embedded reporters to cover the war in Iraq, before the military and the Pentagon knew what to do with reporters.
Gracing an audience of college students and other interlopers was producer and co-writer David Simon (Ed Burns was unable to attend), former United States Marine Staff Sergeant Eric Kocher, and Evan Wright.
Going into the screening, I knew that I had little to really compare with the story of those marines. 1) I'm an Army soldier; 2) I am a woman; 3) I've never been to Iraq. But I had little time to think about much else. From the moment the dialogue started, I was sucked in.
The episode accomplished many things with me. I noticed everything, from the fast-paced, non-stop, raunchy back-and-forth between the characters, to the use of the word "homo-erotic" (which brought back a memory of the time infantry grunts enlightened me to the definition), to the seamless construction of dynamic characters and true-to-life conflicts of personalities. It's all there, and so much more. You even get a minuscule glimpse of the desensitizing that goes on in combat as the camera forces you to view civilian bodies lining the roadside and the blood of fellow comrades painting the windows of burned-out, blown-up armored vehicles.
With the characters, the viewer gets one step closer to having a clue than any American does who hasn't served or heard first-hand the accounts of those who do.
I thought that the one-liners were awesome. Interestingly, some of the authentic dialogue from combat made it not only into the book but to the filming. How do I know? Because there are things they say and do that only someone who has been deployed or spent time with a bunch of grunts would know. There were times I wanted to laugh out loud, and many times I did, but I would look around and no one else was laughing -- except the others who were service members or worked with service members. I would say that it was those "you-had-to-be-there" moments in the movie that I loved the most. Like when one of the characters goes on about how having some "(insert vulgar reference to a woman's genitalia here)" would make the people in that country happier. I HAD to laugh -- because I've heard it a few times before almost verbatim.
Additionally, when the ineffective officer clearly doesn't have the respect or the trust of his marines, it brought back memories of moments where I've witnessed very similar scenes unfold in real time, in the real war. And I've seen the damage it can do to unit and team cohesion, to the safety of soldiers and to missions.
My only issues are petty ones, and I think a critique based on petty points is a testament to the success of the author's mission. There's no way Hollywood can portray a tour in seven episodes on TV, but overall, in my humble POG opinion, Generation Kill does a pretty damn good job of it.
All in all the screening was a success. But the questions by the audience? I'm truly. Very. Sad. I can't believe how far removed some people are from what's going on -- from the issues, from our military communities. There was a lot of back and forth about the draft even after a couple of attempts to move on from that subject.
It bugs me that there was so much concern over the draft issue when we're nowhere near invoking a draft (getting rid of "Don't ask, don't tell" is a bit more likely to happen). The lady sitting behind me kept saying matter-of-factly, "The draft is going to happen." After a while, I could hardly take it anymore. I commented to a fellow veteran that those people seemed so concerned about it because it would mean that they'd have to actually serve their country (by being a soldier/going to war).
They don't actually care about what a draft would do to the military, to volunteer soldiers, or the war. They just want to know if there is even a remote chance that they might have to leave their cushy lives to go to dirty, nasty places like what they just saw on the big screen to do unfathomable things like kill bad guys and see dead bodies and wounded people. They didn't care or ask questions about the movie, about the characters in the movie that were based on real marines, what it took to get the story from Iraq, to the pages of a published book, to the big screen (which is a bit more relevant line of questioning for an author and a producer, don't ya think?). They just wanted to know if these non-military people thought that THEY might have to one day face the call from their country, to serve.
Despite not being a soldier, David Simon was spot-on in my opinion. We don't want draftees in our wars. We don't want anyone that doesn't want to be a soldier. I don't need you in my convoy, on my mission or even as my bunkmate. I don't want to eat with you, talk to you or even shit with you while I'm deployed.
Soldiers do enough complaining when they knew what they were getting into and volunteered. Imagine the morale bashing a draftee would bring. No. Thank. You. We're not that desperate and we won't be for quite some time. We don't want you any more than you want to stand with us in the ranks.
For those whose stories this book/series tells, thank you. For the man that took the time to put it to paper, thank you. For the men who brought it to life for those who care enough to watch it, thank you. You've all truly been a part of something bigger than yourselves. And for that, you have my unsolicited respect.