Hollywood Wars and American Military “Heroes”

Many attempts have been made by movie writers/directors/producers to tell the truth about the tragic, unnecessary Iraq War while making it a financial box office success. Making significant dollars means large numbers will see the movies and hear the important truth messages. The two latest, Oscar winning The Hurt Locker and the just released Green Zone while making the most recent successful attempts so far, will probably fail at their profit goals and have little political impact. This weekend Green Zone starring Matt Damon took in $14.5 million while its box office competitor, Alice in Wonderland starring Johnny Depp made $62 million. (See Green Zone movie reviews here)

Damon with his Paul Greengrass’ Bourne movie triumphs can compete with Depp’s star power. What he can’t overcome is Americans’ reluctance to face the truth about American made wars and our military “heroes.” It just so happens that tonight Tom Hanks and Steven Spielberg launch their latest HBO passion project, The Pacific (in ten parts) trying to show the reality of war and “bringing history’s lessons to modern audiences, especially those lessons that resonate with today’s war-weary Americans,” says Hanks. It probably will resonate, but is unlikely to change many minds.

Since the inception of moving pictures, Hollywood has struggled with how to portray the men and women who go to war on behalf of their nation and then discover war’s horror realities that will alter the participants lives forever. It’s a herculean task for movie makers to condemn war and the war mongers who create it while making heroes of mostly innocent pawns who carry out the missions. Some succumb to ignoring the mongers or making “heroes” of those who don’t deserve it. Others blame the “troops” ignoring those who sent them to risk their lives under the false pretense of national “defense.”

Having served in the Air Force from 1963-1991 as a public affairs officer, I watched how our military “heroes” went from scum after Vietnam to true heroes in the First Gulf War. I worked hard to make that perceptual change. I can see now that success which came about because our military became superb professionals at the art of war, using the latest weapons from the very profitable war machine makers, significantly contributes to confusing American voters on the question of why we are creating enemies and wars and the terrible consequences that result.

It isn’t easy for average Americans to praise the “troops” while condemning their wars. That means they would have to accept that all that deadly sacrifice is sadly only contributing to the power and money brokers who never suffer and gloat with glee and greed over their success. When Hollywood or those “terrible lefties” attempt to tell them the truth, it is too painful to hear so they seek solace in the propaganda of those responsible for putting them into this emotional dilemma and ruining millions of lives including ones that touch them.

The only way to ease this dilemma is to face up to the power of the M$M-Congressional-Military-Industrial complex and the cruel irony of the name of the organization responsible for conducting our wars, the Department of DEFENSE.

Politics is framing. As long as we call our military pawns “heroes” just because they are called on to “DEFEND” us, keeps far too many Americans confused suckers. And that is just what our war monger profiteers want and need. They do it with framing that creates false fears. Their success will lead to the ultimate collapse of the American Empire.

I’m not the first to suggest that the DoD be renamed the Department of PEACE. It would be a very important first step in using political framing to the disadvantage of the complex. The second is to stop using HEROES. Our most important heroes should be those who want to overpower the complex. Until that happens, our downward economic and political spiral will continue unabated.


  1. cocktailhag says:

    Yes, heroism has definitely been cheapened when authentic heroism is used to sanctify unheroic goals. What disgusts me most is hearing armchair warriors talk about fighting the fight at home; i.e., smearing the hippie peaceniks. How conveniently easy… what’s going to happen? They get beaned by a sand candle or get a bong rip blown in their face? Hearing somebody like Karl Rove wax lryical about “courage” is like hearing a hooker go on about abstinence.

    • rmp says:

      That’s another war machine tactic. Confuse Americans on what patriotism means and who are the real patriots. I just posted this on FDL’s Seminal, my first post there.

  2. cocktailhag says:

    Which is pretty much like all the wars that followed it, as causes and results melted away before “go, team” cheerleading.

    • dirigo says:

      Add to that commentaries and rationalizations from “doughboys” like Beck, Rove and Thiessen.

  3. Gordon says:

    Great post, RMP!

    I believe DoD should be re-renamed DoW, Dept. Of War.

    • rmp says:

      It’s certainly the most accurate term right now. To have any positive American future, we need DoP.

  4. Ted N. says:

    The fact that many average Americans are easily fooled by those in power who resort to manipulation to meet their own needs will remain a problem until critical thinking skills reach the masses. As long as the sheeple remain blissfully ignorant, charlatans in the media and politics will use them to their advantage.

    IMHO, renaming DoD to the Department of Peace would leave George Orwell dancing in his grave.

    Instead, a completely separate entity dedicated to peace and nonviolence would help make sure violence is truly a last resort. That would leave the DoD – hopefully much smaller because the need would be much lower – available for when fighting fire with fire is required. But the American taxpayers will need to stand up and demand it.

  5. mikeinportc says:

    ” I believe DoD should be re-renamed DoW, Dept. Of War.

    rmp says:
    It’s certainly the most accurate term right now. To have any positive American future, we need DoP.

    IMHO, renaming DoD to the Department of Peace would leave George Orwell dancing in his grave. ”

    Yep ^. [ Thanks for saving me all that typing. ;) ]
    Calling it what it actually is (& once was) might be helpful.Changing DOD to DOP might only work due to the glaring contrast between name and mission.

    “I watched how our military “heroes” went from scum after Vietnam..”

    What was your experience with that, rmp, & dirigo? I heard of it, but never saw any of it, even from the DFHs I did know. ( Likely too young, so avoided in my presence, by those so inclined? )

    the M$M-Congressional-Military-Industrial complex

    The ACORN episode gave me an idea, as to how to start unraveling that thread.(not that it’s likely, jes sayin’) What if media companies, their parent companies, subsidiaries, or those with significant( define?) couldn’t get government contracts, except for use of said media? (PSAs, etc. – & I’m not sure if even that is OK)

    Slightly OT, today I saw an attempt to rehabilitate GHW Bush, by (of course ) a Young Republican, that was 2-3 yrs old when he left office. History will see him as one of the best presidents . The only blemish on his record is the Lee Atwater stuff. Only?!!!! Setting aside that that’s probably the least of his transgressions, ….”only“? Hardly that insignificant.

    • Hello Mr. Dirigo:

      You don’t know me, sorry, but permission to be bold now, and nicer later? Would you in this forum be more specific what you are talking about? I am curious, since I never get to hear such details, unfortunately. It seems to me the world is filled with all kinds of huge issues and concepts, and folks are trying to break it down, like on this thoughtful site. I think that is what you would prefer. Well, you asked for it, I’m asking.

      It makes me suspect it was a sick joke that gets perpetuated with all the dancing around. Say it, my college years were a misguided waste of time; childhood is just something one doesn’t get over; the pursuit of happiness will become as empty as never thinking about it; make a man poor and you got a nothing; my military experience deflated me, making me less a man. For that, I offer not poetry, not convictions, but organization, especially on a local level? Meet whatever you think you lost with the same level of resistance.

      I wouldn’t know, being 48 now. I get no health care; you complain about its quality. I’ll pay for college loans till the day I die; you develop a sense of entitlement toward your flow of income; I get lame church basements and six acquaintenances, you get Halls all over the country to have a drink in. I get to doubt if I’d fight even for a good cause, you get to be among the patriotic. It’s no wonder you are all so coy – you got it made! Now there’s another group coming up I have to live with, who get even a better deal. Can you guess what I’m thinking now? (Hi CH)

      • rmp says:

        Thanks for sharing the reasons why your father suffered from PTSD and his attempts to help himself through deadly alcoholism. At least today for Iraq and Afghanistan, the VA is close to mounting a very professional operation to help vets suffering from PTSD. Your dad had no real help available which explains why he tried to help himself. How lonely and sad that must have been for him, you and your family.

  6. It’s just amazing that the multitude of success that Mr. Johnny Depp demonstrated in their movies throughout his whole career especially with a movie like Public Enemies. Thanks for all of the good times Johnny Depp!

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