15 Things Hollywood Will Get Wrong About Iraq and Afghanistan
By Kelly Crigger
Someday Hollywood will start churning out movies about Iraq and Afghanistan like they did about Vietnam. If Vietnam is a model then it will probably be 10 years before this country can really open up about it with serious filmmakers getting out there and ripping open the old wounds. We predict they’ll make a lot of similar, stupid mistakes. Fifteen of them to be exact because, unlike Hollywood, we’re a meticulous crowd that pays attention to detail.
1. Uniforms. Let’s start with the obvious. You will see the wrong camo pattern in the wrong place and wrong time, upside down patches, hands in pockets, backwards body armor, long hair, beards where there were none, nonsensical boots, and gloves on penises. They almost never get this right and the lone time they did (Band of Brothers) was because some genius hired Captain Dale Dye who made the actors live in their uniforms for weeks before filming.
2. Weapons that don’t exist. This is another easy one. We’ll see M-16A1’s that fire 18,000 rounds in 4 seconds and LAWs that you can recock like a shotgun and take out a tanks that the Iraqis never had. We might even see death ray guns.
3. Haji can’t shoot for shit or blow anything up. Meanwhile our troops always have pinpoint accuracy and ALWAYS get head shots. Miraculously 5.56 will down the enemy on the first shot, and the 7.62 will always find the SAPI plate (which always works) until there needs to be drama then everything is reversed and the troops are in a hopeless situation that can only be saved by one person who makes everyone else look like chumps because he is a Rambo reincarnate. Also there will definitely be the explosion that either kills everyone in a ten block radius of the blast EXCEPT the hero and friends or alternatively, the explosion that looks like it should have killed everyone in a ten block radius but actually harms no one.
4. Fantasy Tactics, Techniques, and Procedures. Ever see a Naval Quartermaster unit fastrope into a hot LZ, take out 1000 terrorists (without reloading their M16A1s), save a buxom redhead CIA agent, and get slingloaded out by a high altitude zeppelin without a single scratch? You will.
5. Acronyms and units that don’t exist. We all know the military is acronym crazy, but just wait until people who live outside reality are unleashed on our lifestyle. SPECWARUNDERSEASPACESUPPOSITORYTWITTERCOM will be a real thing and gullible idiots across the country will line up at the local recruiter to join it.
6. Troops delivering stupid, political one-liners as if they weren’t written by an anti-war committee. Movies are not made by one person. The script is agonizingly scrutinized by a battalion of writers, producers, and directors until the dialogue is as profitable as possible no matter how unlikely the character is to utter the final lines or not. So when you hear a head-scratching catchphrase like “When politicians can’t put an idea in someone’s mind, I put a bullet in their body” don’t blame the actor. Blame the producer who’s agenda the line supported.
7. None of us wanted to be there. This is where shit starts to get real and is completely predictable. Hollywood is notorious for making war movies where everyone hates war and takes drastic measures to ensure they get out of it with their conscious intact. It’s their own leftist agenda at making the world a better place by ridiculing those of us who serve. You can bet your ass every film will have some underlying theme of “war is bad and all the participants are there against their will, the poor souls.” What they will miss are the people who are genuinely proud to serve and (God forbid) actually want to make someone else’s life better.
8. Desertion is acceptable if you disagree with war. It’s not, but someone will try to get us to empathize with a lost soul caught up in an evil situation that a corrupt establishment created so we root for him to break free of his oppressive bonds and walk away to be a champion of the little people who deserve a free life because we’re all bad people.
9. We all hate Muslims. Undoubtedly someone will make the GWOT about religion and make a movie that portrays us as hating anyone who’s not a God-fearing Christian. Even worse is the predictable movie about crossing the Christian-Muslim divide against all the people who tell him or her it’s wrong. Some uncreative writer will take a small bit of anti-Islamic prejudice farther than necessary because the forbidden love story – Romeo and Juliet, West Side Story, Dirty Dancing – has been worn out throughout the history of arts so he will redo it in a Christianity vs Islam way because he doesn’t have enough brain cells to think of anything original.
10. Troops have no sense of humor. Troops do the stupidest, craziest and sometimes funniest shit of any demographic, especially in combat. From distilling crude booze out of brake fluid to forcing a newbie to wear the Platoon’s lucky thong on a patrol, we’ve thought of it all and tried most of it. I once broke open a chem light, poured the juice all over a pallet of artillery rounds and sat behind the guns with night vision goggles watching each beautiful green streak arc across the sky for hours. But Hollywood will miss this part of combat life and replace it with over tense drama coated in extra serious sauce. Which brings us to…
11. Drama where there is none. Troops are pretty straightforward people who use a lot of nonverbal communication. We frequently speak without speaking because we live by an unwritten code that some things just don’t need to be said. You saved my life? “Thanks, brother” is all a real soldier needs to say. “What do you think of Joe Schmoe?” one soldier asks. “He’s a good dude,” is all you need to hear to know Schmoe has your back. Long-winded, overwritten responses aren’t required, but Hollywood will draw it out into a long monologue about the meaning of life that will completely miss the mark while civilians who have never been there cry about how eloquent soldiers are.
12. Everything is a conspiracy. Some things are just as simple as they seem on the surface. If a guy gets shot by the enemy then that does not mean there are six degrees of separation between him getting killed, the Illuminati, pyramids, and the ark of the covenant. No government shadow cell had him offed by a sleeper agent because he knew the truth about the man with one red shoe. He was just an idiot who didn’t know the meaning of cover and concealment. End of story.
13. Overemphasis on sexual assault. This topic is undoubtedly the albatross around the military’s neck and totally deserves to be talked about as long as it’s kept in proportion and not taken out of context. But who am I kidding? This is Hollywood, so everyone in uniform is a sadistic rapist. The issue will be blown out of proportion so it looks like we’re all sexual predators. Nevermind the 90% of all servicemen who keep their business in their pants. Some writer, producer, director will take it as a personal mission to vilify sexual deviancy as the norm rather than the exception. Which brings us to the other completely wrong stereotype…
14. We’re all mentally imbalanced after combat. Like the current disgrace of sexual assault in the military, this has some nugget of truth to it, but will be blown out of proportion as applying to all who serve. We’re all different after seeing and doing the things we’ve done, but many walk away from it unscathed. Even those who have issues with PTS do a great job of managing it so none ever sees it. I mean who the fuck do these high and mighty shitfucks think they are labeling us as unstable? I haven’t lost my grip on reality! They’re the ones who don’t know jack shit about the real world! THIS IS MY UNICORN AND YOU CAN’T HAVE IT!!
15. Rewriting history wrongly. This is Hollywood’s most dangerous weapon. They can make a movie that is utter bullshit and people will believe it. I still remember my father and his buddies who had 16 tours of Vietnam between them saying Apocalypse Now was complete nonsense, but if you ask anyone to this day they believe that “Charlie don’t surf” scene happened. Most of us in the military can deal with the small things being wrong like uniform violations and weapons that never need reloading, but getting the big things right like the re-telling of true stories will be the main issue we have in the coming years. A great example of this is the Lone Survivor movie. The true story was extremely compelling in and of itself, yet they still felt the need to change/dramatize/Hollywoodize it. The most dangerous part of that? The overwhelming majority of the public will take those events as the truth, which effectively rewrites history. Even in the case of fictional movies on the GWOT, I think it’s entirely possible to have a lot of technically accurate movies, but the over all themes being dramatized or inaccurate, which Hollywood will blame on “creative license.”
Now let’s be fair. Some movies come very close to reality, but we also have to be careful what we wish for. As a very experienced operator told me, “I don’t want Hollywood showing how my guys get in and off a target. I don’t want them showing how I select a breach point or where my guys are going to be when they enter a building. I don’t want them to understand who I work with or the type of fire support I have available to me. That is why we sign non-disclosure statements. I’m sure most of us would love to be action heroes and make millions telling everyone how awesome we are. I like to think that most of the men that serve have the discretion to realize that it is not in the best interest of the guys still doing the heavy lifting to tell everyone how we work.” So maybe it’s not their fault. Maybe they’re fucking it up on purpose just to protect us. And maybe Sophia Vergara will accompany my kid to his 7th grade dance if I make a witty video and appeal to her sympathy on YouTube.
In the end it’s very rare that Hollywood produces a war movie with 100% accuracy, but the most heinous part of this story is that it doesn’t have to be. It takes literally minutes of research and / or reaching out to the people who were there to make a great film that’s also mostly accurate and profitable. Or at the very least one that doesn’t insult us. Hollywood exists to make money. Lots of it, so they don’t have to care if it’s right, just entertaining. So let this message be clear to you entertainment types: your need to make money is not so crucial that you can trample on our lifestyle. It’s our privilege and duty to protect this country, so we consider it your duty to get it right.
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