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.

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