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Culture's Portrayal of the Vietnam War - Essay Example

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The intensity of war, and the emotionally charged atmosphere that develops around it, has always been a fertile medium for artists, writers, and activists. This was certainly true of Vietnam as a generation of soldiers, students, and citizens took to the media where a battle raged for the possession of the war's social construction…
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Cultures Portrayal of the Vietnam War
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Culture's Portrayal of the Vietnam War

Download file to see previous pages... Most of the popular culture images were highly critical of the war, and painted the US forces as brutal intruders into an otherwise peaceful and innocent jungle scene. From the viewpoint of the popular culture, its images and art, everybody had a scene to play and everybody got it wrong. The lowly buck private was no less responsible than the Commander in Chief, and the Pentagon shared equal guilt with the Military-Industrial Complex. Was the criticism legitimate From the viewpoint of the actors, agents, and citizens that filled these roles, the media's criticism of the war and their grim portrayal of the times, was an exaggerated stretch of reality that forever tarnished the reputation of an entire generation.
It was easy to criticize a war where the world's mightiest military machine invaded a jungle, decimated the population, destroyed the environment, and left fifty thousand of their best and brightest dead, and another half a million maimed for life. Yet, the war was more than just the front lines in some far away jungle. The war was the returning soldiers confronting a society that was different than the one they had left. It was the protestors that were stereotyped by both sides of the political spectrum as they challenged the system and denounced the American way. It was also the public that was waiting in the wings to weigh in with their critical support or criticism. These were the victims of the war. Writers would continue to paint the makers of the war as deceptive, greedy, and hypocritical megalomaniacs. Anti-war protestors would forever be branded as a silver spooned generation on drugs, gazing as the reality of capitalism slipped through their fingers. Conscripted soldiers would play the role of the demonized madman, bent on total destruction, and having little thought of patriotism while only hoping to escape an imminent death. Criticizing the war was easy, but keeping the criticism legitimate was a far more difficult task.
The Vietnam War presented America with a foreign policy, a military action, and a public response that certainly had plenty to be critical of. However, in an effort to sell the war, or its end, the portrayal of every aspect of it became a marketing tool designed to sell a political position or a blockbuster film. The movie Good Morning Vietnam (1987) chronicled the Vietnam tour of Armed Forces Radio disc jockey Adrian Cronauer, and was one of the more accurate versions of the war from the soldier's point of view. Cronauer is portrayed as a soldier and a human being that has the capacity to empathize, criticize, frustrate his commanders, and fall in love even as the war goes on all around him. This is a different approach than the doomsday films such as Full Metal Jacket (1987) or Apocalypse Now (1979), that painted the soldier as a robotic killer, faced with continual death, and willing to extract any revenge necessary to accomplish the mission and survive to fight one more day. The viewer was left with the impression that the war had turned a generation of young patriotic men into automated killers that had the potential to snap at the slightest trigger or pent up memory. To be clear, there was no one singular experience for the Vietnam veteran. However, the barrage of pop culture images that stereotyped the Vietnam veteran as a ticking time bomb has had a significant negative impact on these ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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