Wednesday, 6 April 2016

Reactions to the Vietnam War

Born on the Fourth of July 

Released in 1989, Born on the Fourth of July follows a teenager (Tom Cruise) who fights as a marine in the Vietnam War after always dreaming about serving his country and partaking in the Vietnam conflict.
After being injured, he is left in a wheelchair and struggles to adapt to normal life. He becomes an anti-war political activist and tries to speak out for his human rights which he feels he was deprived of.

This film is important in representing the Vietnam War as it not only shows how fighting in the Vietnam War was presented to the public with it being shown as heroic and something you should do if you love America, but it also shows the reality of being involved in the conflict and how soldiers suffered with the consequences of the war after they fought, having to adjust to illnesses and impediments.

Like many other films of this time, it shows the Vietnam War in a negative light, stating that soldiers were mistreated and not properly looked out for. This can be seen in the sheer number of Missing in Action soldiers that were abandoned and left either dead or as live prisoners after this conflict.

There is still much controversy around the treatment of soldiers during the Vietnam War but this film definitely presents the negative view that Vietnam ruined many Americans lives and was a complete disaster.

Below is the trailer for Born on the Fourth of July


Less Than Zero

Tropics of media published an article called 'Generational Narcissism?: Less than Zero, Gen X, and Why Millenials Really Aren’t All That Bad.'

Less than Zero highlights the lives of rich youths in Los Angeles and displays how their wealthy lifestyles create a dependency to a harmful behaviours that includes drugs and sex.
Ryan Reft in the article explains that this lifestyle leaves the characters feeling empty and unfulfilled. He says that "To say that pretty much every character seems vacant in the novel would be selling vacancy short." This shows the idea of a blank generation, a term showing hopelessness for youth culture. 

Reft also talks about how the youth culture in Los Angeles has shifted from a place of hippies to the new destructive culture that is presented in the novel. He writes that "Clay’s L.A. indeed has moved. The game is no longer “peace, love, dope” but rather “dope, sex, and death.” This shows the drastic change in the culture and presents America as a constantly changing scene.

Later on in the Article, Ryan Reft discusses Bret Easton Ellis and his take on the current culture when he wrote Less Than Zero. He describes him as being very admiring of the time period that he writes about and even though he shows the culture as being so destructive and toxic, he still views it positively. He writes "With or without social media, Ellis and others saw youth culture in this hyper-self absorbed nihilistic light. While Ellis certainly means to be brightlining Clay et al’s negatives, he also enables their worst habits and glorifies them." The fact that Ellis brings so much attention to the bad attributes of Clay and his friends, almost makes them aspirational. 

From reading this article it is clear to see that the youth culture represented in Less Than Zero is very problematic and damaging however this is done in such a way that it is glorified and the time period written about by Ellis is almost strangely admired. 

Monday, 4 April 2016

Less Than Zero by Bret Easton Ellis

Less Than Zero is a novel in the ‘bildungsroman’ genre, a novel about the so-called ‘blank generation’. The term blank generation was coined by Richard Hell who released an album in 1977 called blank generation. Richard Hell described its meaning thusly, ‘it’s the idea that you have the option of making yourself anything you want, filling in the blank... It’s saying, ‘I entirely reject your standards for judging my behaviour’’. In literary terms, blank fiction refers to a ‘bratpack’ style group of writers whose subject matter - drugs, violence, commodities and youth culture - is presented using detached or disengaged rhetoric. Of these writers, Bret Easton Ellis is one of the most well-known and his debut novel, Less Than Zero, is considered a cornerstone in this genre of literature.

The novel is told using the narrative voice of Clay, a young man in his late teenage years or early twenties, who returns home from college and finds himself quickly re-immersed in the angry, disaffected, disengaged lifestyle of his high school friends whose prolific drug use and the associated lifestyle begins to pull Clay into a downward spiralling vortex of confused desperation.

In 2008, Ashley Minix Donnelly wrote her graduate thesis, Blank Power: The Social and Political Criticism of Blank Fiction and Cinema, focussing on ‘blank generation’ literature. Within that thesis which is published online, Minix Donnelly explores Bret Easton Ellis’ novel Less Than Zero.

This blog post will examine Minix Donnelly’s assessment of Less Than Zero, focusing in particular on her understanding of the novel’s representation of commodification, drug use and youth culture in relation to ‘the blank generation’, i.e., the wealthy generation of 1980's youths (those in their late teens and early twenties,) growing up in LA.

Minix Donnelly makes the point that often ‘blank literature’ is ‘intended to motivate a complacent audience and ignite passion in American readers against the injustice faced by their fellow citizens’.  This idea can certainly be applied to Less Than Zero. If a society has a dominant set of ideas and values that are seen to be shared by the majority of members within that society (organic culture), then examination of Less Than Zero provides an excellent opportunity to counter such a perspective. Less Than Zero offers what one might describe as an anti-culture perspective, that of a group within society whose ideas and values are in direct conflict with the dominant values of the culture within which they exist.

In addition, Minix Donnelly suggests that the debauchery that is often found in ‘blank fiction acts as a cautionary tale that serves to promote the current values of society by showing the malfunction of society if people deviate from those values. She agrees with James Annersley’s view in Blank Fictions: Consumerism, Culture, and the Contemporary American Novel, referring to his suggestion that ‘the violent, destructive and decadent’ nature of this genre is intended to represent ‘the apocalypse culture’ of the late 20th century’.  Minix Donnelly suggests that the ‘overwhelming sense of hopelessness’ that is prevalent in the genre is to be explained in this way, and it is certainly my belief that her theory can be applied to Less Than Zero, when one considers the political and ideological backdrop against which the novel is set.

In the U.S. during the 1980s the dominant culture was bred by the embracing of right-wing politics (those of the Reagan administration), which included the celebrated era of consumerism, of which the Yuppie is perhaps the most easily recognised symbol.  This new and exciting era was especially well received given that the US was only just beginning to rise from the ashes of ‘Cold War Culture’, a period prior to the era of commodification when a sense of responsibility and seriousness was the dominant ideology.  However, the era of consumerism was not regarded as the answer to a progressive society by all Americans.  Whilst ‘Cold War Culture’ had been countered by the rise of the 1960's and 1970’s angry youth in what has come to be known as the punk era, the 1980s dominant culture was countered by the ‘blank generation’, the 1980s angry youth who set out to buck against what they perceived as ‘mainstream’ ideologies that they felt did not represent who they truly were.  (It is fairly ironic that it would in fact be this generation who would, in just a decade or so, feed into the idea of commodification more than any generation before them, through their total immersion in – and subservience to – the information age.)

This doesn’t mean that Less Than Zero is not a valuable work of literature or that it does not give an accurate reflection of life for some of America’s youth at that time.  I would indeed argue to the contrary:  Danny Bonaduce, a college student at the time of Less Than Zero’s publication, was very clear in his autobiography that he and some of his fellow students felt that they were the characters about whom Ellis was writing. Less Than Zero offers one perspective, which is particularly easy to recognise due to the first-person narrative that acts as a sort of ‘stream of consciousness’ of the protagonist, Clay, one of LA’s angry youth.  What we must recognise however, is that it is only representing this section of society, and however small or large that group is, the book cannot be considered to represent the very many of sections of society whose views, or ideologies differ from – and in many cases directly oppose – those represented in Ellis’ novel.  This does not mean that the novel is unworthy of critical reflection, which  is a view that Minix argues is often taken by critics who struggle to separate the content of blank fiction literature from its context and thus consider work in this genre as ‘superficial works of popular culture’. Indeed Less Than Zero continues to be regarded as an edgy, stark piece of literature and one worthy of respect in its field.

However, in some ways Less Than Zero is in fact offering the same kind of mainstream approach as, for example, the movies of John Hughes.  Hughes’ films are very often seen as ‘the voice of a generation’, and it is certainly true that for some of that generation that is exactly what they were.  However, it is utterly false to suggest that any of Hughes films completely represent every member of that generation, or that they represent any one person’s entire ideology, viewpoint, or values.  Rather, his movies reflect one or some aspects of life in some parts of America for some people who predominantly belong to a particular generation. In the same way, Less Than Zero can be seen in this light regardless of its dark and at times uncomfortable content, and therefore, whilst I appreciate the novel for its representation of one aspect of 1980s culture, and whilst I hold it in high regard for its literary value, I do not see Less Than Zero as the voice of a generation, instead I consider it to be an enjoyably dark, yet still rather mainstream, ‘coming of age’ novel.

Bonaduce, D., Random Acts of Badness: My Story (U.S., 2001), p.62

Annersley, J., Blank Fictions: Consumerism, Culture, and the Contemporary American Novel (London, 1998) p.108

Friday, 1 April 2016

Week 8: Less than Zero

This article deals with several issues related to ‘Less than Zero’ by Bret Easton Ellis, including issues of commodities, youth culture and Los Angeles.

This article discusses how this novel is “largely autobiographical account of what it's like to grow up, rich and jaded, in Beverly Hills today.” The article states how the characters lack any sort of ambitions or aspirations, yet instead they focus their energies on spending their trust funds on “designer clothing, porno films and, of course, liquor and drugs.” This therefore gives an insight into the youth culture of LA in the 1980’s and the desire for commodities over real life experiences.

This article goes on to talk about how the characters in this novel, “are willfully intent on numbing themselves to life - Valium, Thorazine, downers and heroin are their favorite drugs; soap operas, MTV, and video games, their idea of recreation.” These characters are enthralled with consumer culture, using commodities to numb themselves to life, in the same way they use drugs to numb themselves. This creates the question of what are these characters numbing themselves to? Perhaps because of the consumer culture they live in, yet it becomes an endless cycle of buying things to numb themselves to the very culture that encourages them to want these commodities.

This article also talks about the disturbed nature of the novel, as characters as young as thirteen are participating in this youth culture of drugs and commercialisation that Ellis describes. However, with regards to Clay, the article states that, “presumably we are meant to think that he's more sensitive and well-meaning than his friends because he abstains from raping a young girl, turns down an offer of heroin, and has crying jags in his psychiatrist's office. But such gestures are hardly sufficient to establish him as a sympathetic hero, and in the end, his alienation remains undifferentiated from that of his fellow nihilists.” Therefore, even if Clay is portrayed as more sensitive than his peers, he still exists within this youth culture that thrives on numbness, a lack of caring and consumerism.

Week 7: Music Videos

Michael Jackson’s ‘Thriller’

Michael Jackson’s ‘Thriller’ was released on December 2nd 1983, and was MTV’s first world premiered video. It was also voted as the most influential pop video of all time, and it has had a large influence on the music industry. This music video is seen as an iconic music video of the 80’s and is widely known around the world, with a number of people recreating the dance from the music video themselves. This music video helped break down racial barriers in the music industry at the time, as prior to it being aired MTV was criticised as favouring white artists. However after the popularity of Michael Jackson’s music MTV began to be more racially diverse with its music. Therefore Michael paved the way for other black artists to enter the music industry. This video is also seen as an almost a short film, as it is a 13 minute music video showing a narrative with a conclusion. Which changed the way artists viewed their music videos.

 Lady Gaga’s ‘Marry the Night’  

Lady Gaga’s music is an example of a contemporary music video that I think will represent the contemporary 30 years from now. Lady Gaga’s career began with catchy pop videos, however she has developed into making long music videos with film like narratives, similar to Michael Jackson’s ‘Thriller’. An example of this is her song ‘Marry the Night’, which is almost 14 minutes long. This video contains complex scenes to build the narrative of the music video, which is still not very common amongst artists even today. This is why I believe her music will represent this time in 30 years, as Lady Gaga is constantly pushing the boundaries of the music industry with her creativity and ingenuity. 

Week 2: Reagan hatred

Reagan hatred shown in a contemporary article, published 28th December 2015:   

This article is entitled, “Behind the Ronald Reagan myth: “No one had ever entered the White House so grossly ill informed”. Which suggests that the article will disprove this statement, and prove that Ronald Reagan wasn't ill prepared and was a good president. However, this article details a large number of examples showing Reagan’s political ignorance, and his lack of interest in political matters.

 “Speaking of one far-ranging discussion on the MX missile, the Indiana congressman Lee Hamilton, an authority on national defence, reported, “Reagan’s only contribution throughout the entire hour and a half was to interrupt somewhere at midpoint to tell us he’d watched a movie the night before, and he gave us the plot from War Games.”

This example shows how Reagan seemed to lack an interest in important discussions, and how Reagan didn't take important topics seriously. It also suggests Reagan was just ‘grossly ill informed’ about such topics and therefore he didn't properly take part in such discussions.

Another such example is how Reagan would fall asleep during important discussions as if he didn't care about the fate of his country, an example being how Reagan fell asleep whilst the pope was speaking to him during a televised event in the Vatican. Examples such as these show Reagan had a lack of respect for others, as the article goes on to state “Cabinet officials had to accommodate themselves to Reagan’s slumbering during discussions of pressing issues” which shows this wasn't a one off occurrence.

Furthermore, this article states that in order to get Reagan to pay attention to important information, “his national security adviser had the CIA put together a film on world leaders the president was scheduled to encounter.”

This whole article is filled with examples like these, which show how Reagan was in fact “grossly ill informed” as President and how he didn't seem to care about becoming informed. This article is therefore an example of Reagan hatred, as it discusses a large number of Reagan’s flaws as President, and as a person. 

Thursday, 10 March 2016

(Week 9) Reactions to Vietnam in the 1980s

Vietnam - The televised conflict. Reaction in the 1980s
Criticism at the time of war

Reaction to the Vietnam war at the time of conflict was mixed to say the least. Some supported the war initially, its fight against communism and the fear of the domino effect was a noble thing to stand by. However this time, unlike any war before it, the whole thing was televised to the people of America which caused support and reaction to the war to waver massively. Some famous celebrities actually threw away their conscription service card and songs emerged berating the President and his actions in Vietnam. A famous example of this being 'Hey Hey LBJ' which accused the president of killing thousands of innocent women and children. Even after the war had finished in 1975 many concerns begin to raise surrounding the war, such as MIA soldiers and the Vietnam memorial.

Reactions in the 1980s

Movies and Media
By the 1980s the horror caused by Vietnam on soldiers and people of America was not new news to anyone, if it was then they clearly didn't get out much and while some veterans were heavily traumatised by the war, some 500,000 to 700,000 developing some type of PTSD, most integrated back in society well, marrying and raising families of their own.
While the reaction to the war was by n means good in the 1980s, some wrote down their experience in Vietnam in literature, such as Born on the Fourth of July, A novel by Ron Kovic and the movie Platoon (1986) by Oliver Stone whose book was transformed into a movie in 1989. One critic suggests that the movie is wrongly overlooked "because of it's brutal but long-winded portrayal of the duality of man". The movie reacts very negatively of the Vietnam war, showing the War as 'Brutal' and as beneficial to no one. Although it was almost a decade after the war, there still seemed to be a fixation on its brutality and inhuman warfare. The use of Military advisor's on the set added to its accurate portrayal of the cold heartedness of Vietnam.

MIA Soldiers
Despite claiming that "we cannot rule out the possibility that American POWs or MIAs were left behind at the end of the [Vietnam] war" by the 1980s the government had changed all but one of the MIA reports in Vietnam to Presumptive Finding of Death. As expected the people of America who still had the hope of family returning from America did not take well to this change in status. But while the majority of the people still committed to finding their family member and not giving up, others saw it as an option to move on with life, one Lady named Edna Hunter-King said that it gave her the ability to close "the book and got on with living". Although this seems heartless this is what happened in America. The nation was divided by this decision by the government, some seeing it as opening a door to carry on and others the exact opposite. Film was produced to show this "Public passion for the return of MIAs increased following a spate of films in the mid-1980s, such as Rambo: First Blood Part II (1985), starring Sylvester Stallone as a lone American freeing American POWs under intense enemy fire." Showing that while many people continued and went on in their life there was still an obligation to many Americans to recover all MIA soldiers in Vietnam, not merely changing their Status to PFOD.

Vietnam Memorial
Maya Ling Lin had the vision of the Vietnam Memorial to symbolize the conflict of the Vietnam war. However at the time of its creation in the early 1980s, it was heavily criticised. "Many veterans, politicians,critics, and the general public read its refusal to explicitly glorify the war". They felt it did not glorify the war of the American troops that fought in it. This negative reaction to the monument is similar to the rest of the reactions above. In the 1980s public reaction to the Vietnam war specifically and things to do with the war, was split. While the view remained highly negative of the war and actions taken after the war, some people saw these actions as a way to move forward and get on with life. However public reaction to the war was by no means positive as a whole, as shown above.


Lasting from November 1st 1955 and ending on April 30th 1975 this brutal conflict spanned twenty and 3 decades, the fifties, sixties and seventies. Of course this means the war is not simply going to drop out of contemporary existence and will eventually make it's way in to popular culture. this happened during the eighties with a number of war related films being released. Films such as Platoon (1986), Full Metal Jacket (1987), Rambo II (1985), Good Morning Vietnam (1987) and Born on the Fourth of July (1989) all present different representation, views and aspects of the Vietnam war. This is turn can be found to show that there were mixed reactions to the Vietnam war.

At the time of the war there were many protests about how unjust the war was and how it should be ended. Moving into the eighties however, the concerns were less with the morality of the war and more on the missing in action and prisoners of war. As seen with Rambo II this influenced popular culture, Rambo was depicted as attempting to go and retrieve some of the men who had not been accounted for. Contrastingly in a film that is not as unbelievable or over-glorified as Rambo, Ful Metal Jacket deals with a different reaction to the war, insanity.

Many of the war veterans suffered from PTSD, and there were also alarming numbers of suicides, as we were shown with Pyle's murder-suicide in FMJ. The estimated number of veterans suffering from PTSD was over 1.5 million and the estimated number of suicides exceeded 100,000. This shows just how brutal the conflict must have been and have no doub that PTSD is a reaction to the war and it will have affected most of the veterans most harshly throughout the eighties, but it will have continued into the nineties and even today. Groups and organisations were set up across the country for example, VietNow, began in 1982 and is a way of veterans helping other veterans to help resolve issues.

To sum up, the eighties saw a number of influences and reactions to the Vietnam war. This came in many different ways, shapes and sizes. American firms lobbied for more efficient extraction of MIA/POW soldiers from vietnam and of the 2500+ that were unaccounted for, it is estimated that only over a thousand have been located and returned home, there is the belief that many of these missing men are still alive in Vietnam. PTSD effected millions of solders and still does today, as portrayed within contemporary culture of the time through movies and other media.


Wednesday, 9 March 2016

The Vietnam War - documentary perspectives during the 1980s

Stills from the documentaries
When the conflicts between North and South Vietnam began in the mid-1950s, anti-Communist rhetoric was at its peak in the US and the American psyche was engulfed by fear. President Eisenhower was keen to prevent communism spreading to South Vietnam, but so soon after the First World War and the Korean War, he felt he would have had trouble generating support for another war from the American people. Consequently publicity around America’s efforts in Vietnam was kept to a minimum for some time and really, it was not until the late 1950s that America’s involvement in Vietnam started to be widely known. Presidents Kennedy, Johnson and Nixon each inherited a deepening conflict, sending more troops and counting more casualties than the previous president had seen. By 1967 some 250,000 American troops were fighting in the Vietnam War, and as Eisenhower had feared over a decade before, dissent among the American people quickly spread, and anti-Vietnam war rhetoric began to replace the patriotic voice of the post First World War era.

The anti-war attitude bled into popular culture throughout the late 1960s and the early 1970s, with regular demonstrations and protests taking place across America. Numerous anti-war organisations and societies began and young adults (in particular, students and black Americans) were angry at what they viewed as the needless loss of life in a war which they felt America should not be fighting. With celebrities from across the music, art, film and television and the political spectrum weighing in to add to the pressure being placed on the US government, America’s efforts in Vietnam began to slow. In 1975, President Ford announced that America would be pulling out of Vietnam and that the Vietnam War was over "for America".

Post-war consideration and assessment had by the 1980s led to two main schools of thought. On the one hand the war was seen as a foolish, costly and tragic error on the part of the US government, and on the other hand it was seen as a capitalist necessity which the US government could not avoid.  However, whilst there were many people who felt the US had taken appropriate and necessary action during the Vietnam war, the depth of anger and resentment by so many people in the US at that time, and the absolute loss of faith in the government, seems to have led to a muting of support for the war and it seems that by far, it is the anti-war rhetoric which dominated during the 1980s and continues to do so. 

Two popular documentaries emerged during the 1980s, which I watched in full for the purpose of this blog. These were Vietnam: A Television History (1983) and Dear America: Letters Home From Vietnam (1987). 

From its opening line, it is fairly easy to discern the angle that Vietnam: A Television History is going to take. George Ball, Under Secretary of State from 1961 to 1966, is shown saying, “I think Vietnam was probably the greatest single error that America has made in its national history.” This is a grand statement when one considers some of America's 'errors' in history such as the ethnic cleansing of the Native Americans, and the slave trade. As you might expect from a documentary of this title, it is filled with footage from the Vietnam War, and relies heavily on the use of images that have become representative of the world’s view of what the Vietnam war was about. The first images seen are very emblematic, such as helicopters flying over the American Embassy in Vietnam and communist leaders followed by images of Vietnamese refugees, tanks driving through the streets, and these images are intercut with many images of US soldiers in their camps or with their troops.

This documentary takes a strong anti-war stance and focuses on the legacy of the Vietnam war, examining how war veterans found themselves unable to talk about their experiences because of the cold reception they received from their fellow Americans. This perspective is perhaps understandable given that documentary was made in 1983. The war had been over for less than a decade, the terrible effects of the war including the deaths of some 60,000 American servicemen, over 150,000 injured, and over 1500 soldiers missing in action, meant that America was experiencing a collective bereavement.

At the end of the documentary, it features a full five minutes of footage of veterans and their families, and the families of those American soldiers who died in Vietnam or were still missing, visiting the Vietnam War Memorial, a 75m long wall engraved with the names of the Vietnam servicemen, which was opened in November 1982.  Playing over this footage are the voices of many veterans talking about what the unveiling of the memorial, and their post-Vietnam experiences, had meant to them. In watching this documentary one is left with the clear message that the veterans were deserted by the country for whom they fought, in some cases for nearly 30 years.

Vietnam: A Television History ends with the narrator’s comment, “America’s Vietnam war is over but it lives on in all those who experienced it. This and all future generations will have to turn to this long dark and hard chapter of history to define the meaning and determine the lessons of Vietnam.”  This sums up the negatively questioning nature of this 1983 documentary.

Dear America: Letters Home From Vietnam is one of the most emotional documentaries I’ve ever watched. The premise of this documentary is to tell the story of the Vietnam war in the words of the American servicemen through the letters they sent home while they were fighting in Vietnam, separated by real footage and news reports from the time. With actors such as Martin Sheen, Robert De Niro, Judd Nelson, Ellen Berstyn, Willem Defoe, Matt Dillon, Kathleen Turner, Sean Penn, Harvey Keitel, Robert Downey Jr, Tom Beringer, Randy Quaid, Elizabeth McGovern, Michael J Fox and Robin Williams all featuring in the documentary, reading the letters of the veterans, this film certainly attracted attention following its release in 1987 and its anti-war stance would likely have been very persuasive for the audience. Many of those actors who have contributed to this documentary were already very well known for their left-wing anti-war views.

The documentary begins with images of young men surfing and having good fun at the beach.  These images are playing to a soundtrack of Beach Boys music, but suddenly the images change to graphically abhorrent pictures of young US soldiers fighting in the Vietnam war. The images are of helicopters, tanks, bombs, injuries and death. Compared to Vietnam: A Television History, this documentary is graphic and edgy right from the start, and it is absolutely apparent that this documentary is not only taking an anti-war stance, but it is pulling no punches - the intention is to offer a non-sanitised representation of the war.

The soundtrack to this documentary is full of pop music from the time which really helps to create a sense of the contrast between what was happening in America at the time versus what was happening in Vietnam at the same time, and it really does give an impression of two very different worlds.

The film walks the audience through the Vietnam War year by year, beginning by showing the young American soldiers as they sign up and are measured up for their new uniforms and ending with footage of families at the Memorial wall, images of bodies being repatriated, and the letter of a mother to her dead son. It is an in-depth and truly tragic depiction of the war. I consider its message is distinctly anti-Vietnam.

For this exercise I also watched many excerpts from online documentaries in an attempt to find a documentary that presented the war from a different perspective. I hoped to find a documentary that celebrated the capitalist successes of the Vietnam war and presented a pro-war stance.  Instead, and in spite of knowing that there are many people who support this view, I found I was unable to locate any documentary from the 1980s that took an openly pro-Vietnam position.  I feel this in itself sums up how the Vietnam war was being viewed during the 1980s - such was the level of resentment and anger that even the war's supporters were not prepared to take too great a public stand in defence of the actions of the US during that time.
Vietnam: A Television History (1983),
Dear America: Letters Home From Vietnam (1987)
Boat People (1987).

'Good Morning Vietnam' 1987

Image result for good morning vietnam
Excuse me, sir. Seeing as how the V.P. is such a V.I.P., shouldn't we keep the P.C. on the Q.T.? 'Cause of the leaks to the V.C. he could end up M.I.A., and then we'd all be put out in K.P.

The depiction of the Vietnam 'Conflict', starring Robin William (1987), became a silver screen sensation, due to the infusion of satirical comedy and the maintenance of the taboo subject of the Vietnam war in the 1960's. The film is centered around Robin William's character  'Armed Forces Radio disc jockey (Adrian Cronauer) whose manic, hilarious delivery from a studio in 1965 Saigon gives U.S. troops in the field a morale boost (while upsetting military brass)'1. Although the 80's era, had begun to produce some of the most significant and hard hitting Vietnam films, such as Platoon, Full Metal Jacket, Born on the Foruth of July,. 'Good Morning Vietnam', altered as it depicted an alternative perspective; in that it was show from behind the front lines, thus making the audience begin to analysis the alternative (depicted) reality. 

One of the key themes is the use of satirical humor and emphasis on maintaining an attitude of disregard for superiority. This style of cinema, during this era, is interesting as is is an approach to the ideas of patriotism, and conformity, countering the presented ideaologies of the Regan period, where the same ideological conflict presided, the 'war on drugs' established i a 'front line' insight for average Americans, to experience, (an alternative and tuned down) form of violence and blood shed. 



MIA Soldiers

During the Vietnam War, there were many examples of soldiers going MIA. Many of their bodies, or remains, haven't been recovered, and their Headstones stand over empty Graves.
It is reported that there were/are 1350 MIA/POW soldiers, as some haven't been closed yet, although there is obvious assumption that they are dead.

One of the most notorious, or infamous, examples, is a soldier by the name of Robert R. Garwood. Garwood was captured and presumed MIA in 1965. However, he was accused and eventually convicted of collaborating with the Viet Cong while he was MIA, as well as being accused of assaulting a fellow Soldier.
"A jury of five Marine Corps officers deliberated two days before returning the conviction. Private Garwood is the only Vietnam prisoner of war to be tried by court-martial on a collaboration charge, and his conviction is the first on such a charge in the armed services since 10 prisoners of the Korean War were convicted 25 years ago."
'These former prisoners said that Private Garwood was living with the Vietnamese camp guards and, in the words of Gustave A. Mehrer of the Army, ''He was squatting like them, walking like them and giggling like them. In my opinion, he was a white Vietnamese.'''
It was claimed by his defense lawyers that for 2 years he had suffered the same torture and deprivation as the other prisoners, and as a result, his mental condition had deteriorated further from the experience when the other prisoners saw him. It was also claimed that he was "driven mad by this coercive persuasion."

One of the most well-known soldiers that went "MIA" is John McCain, who was a POW and in 2008 ran against Obama for President of the United States. He was a POW for 5 and 1/2 years after his Plane was shot down in North Vietnam. There are many conspiracies surrounding McCain and the time he spent MIA. He was tortured, and suffered multiple injuries that were for the most, part untreated, and when they were it was minimal. These injuries included 2 fractured arms and a fractured leg, suffered by ejecting from his Plane.

John McCain being pulled from the water following his Plane crash.

Even today, there are still forensic tests that take place with the intention of identifying some of the remains that have been found. But, for many of the families that had members go MIA, they will never know whether they get found, or identified, and have to live with the knowledge that they will not get a proper burial.
There has been some accusation that America left some of the troops behind, although this has been repeatedly denied by politicians, in particular, McCain, who suggests that the records that may contain that information would only make things painful for the families involved, and as a result, this conspiracy remains, that the US simply left some of the POW's behind. 

"According to the Defense Prisoner of War/Missing Personnel Office, as at 2015 there are still 1,627 U.S. servicemen still unaccounted for from the Vietnam War."

Plaque for the MIA soldiers in Texas.

Vietnam War


During the course of the Vietnamese conflict, hundreds of American soldiers were incarcerated in Vietnamese prisons. Of these only, 591 people were realeased during the Operaion Homecoming however more than 2000 Americans still remained unaccounted for. As the Vietnamese held many of their prisoners at facilities in well defende urban areas, a military solution to the POW problem was not possible for the U.S. forces. On November 21, 1970, a unit of U.S. Army Special Forces troops raided the Vietnamese prison camp at Son Tay, the raiders killed more than thirty Vietnamese troops, but no prisoners were freed; the Americans had been moved some time earlier.

The American people felt that the U.S. government had abandoned their soldiers in a foreign country with very little effort to help bring them back to safety. Americans lobbied for the right treatment and return of the American troops who were either prisoners of warfare or missing in action.

“It’s kind of hard to hang in there, day after day, in my case, 2110 days, you’ve just got to have absolute belief that some day your country’s going to come get you. When I went to Vietnam, I was prepared to be killed, to be wounded, even to be captured. But I was not prepared to be abandoned by the country that sent me there” – former American POW.

Rambo: First Blood Part II (1985)

Created in 1985, Rambo: First Blood Part II , the sequel to First Blood (1982) follows Rambo (played by Sylvester Stallone) on a mission where he will infiltrate Vietnam to search for American POWs that are still rumoured to be held by the Vietnamese. 

 Although quite clearly an unrealistic action film, the notion that the American government may have left men behind was difficult for U.S citizens to understand, which is one of the reasons why characters such as Rambo were created, they needed someone to look up to and that would be a standout hero that would rescue troops from behind enemy lines.