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July 29, 2005

Over there... again.

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Interesting groupings in the reactions to the show. There are generally three, broad reactions (I *wish* I coulda got half the comments Matt at Blackfive did - if you haven't, you should go look over there). I think your view of the show is strongly influenced by the baggage you bring with you when you watch it.

The ones with the least baggage are the most likely to enjoy it - as entertainment, at least thus far. The responses fall into three broad groupings.

1. The group that liked it. A definite minority. [ed. note - but growing as a result of the Instalanche and I hear from outside the Milblogosphere. And some of them think we're a pretty uptight group... 8^D] As near as I can tell they are mostly friends of the military, [Instalanchers are upping the numbers of the neutral group], but most of them never served. Their comments run along this line, from Ruth:

The music is good, there's action, the actors are atractive, parents of higschool age kids won't want them to watch it(making it attractive), it has Americans doing brace [sic] (I think she means brave) things that one never sees in current movies (maybe video games). Good for recruitment.

Or this, from Freakchylde (someone I happen to know) and know she is very much a Friend of the Warrior:

I liked it, but then again, I don't analyze from an anti or pro war position, much less a military one. I'm willing to see where they take it.

I should note that it *wasn't* an exclusively female viewpoint, my cherrypicking of quotes or sites notwithstanding. And there were some vets and active duty responses along those lines, as well.

2. Then there is the group that generally haven't served (but includes a *lot* of family members) and didn't like it. A lot of those reax were more politically/culturally focused in their criticism, and were concerned, as I am, that because the drama of the show is going to come from tension, and tension usually comes from Bad Things, the show will become the "Accepted Wisdom" on OIF in a cultural sense - as Platoon did for many people in regards to Vietnam. Another example of "Everything that ever went wrong in a war happens to 12 guys in 2.5 hours." Even though Hamburger Hill and We Were Soldiers are at a minimum just as accurate in details as Platoon - Platoon is the one that gets the discussion - at least in my observation, which is hardly scientific. But given group number one, mebbe most people won't buy that theme. If so, the Milbloggers can work to counter it, with the simple truth, no flag waving required.

3. Then there's the military guys. Who generally, but not exclusively, don't like it. A lot of us have our standard problems with all the usual Hollywood combat idiocies... Though, in defense of the Huey and the brit APC - DoD obviously didn't cooperate with this production (and may not have been asked, given what some of the upcoming shows look like they might be about - because if DoD helps, DoD expects some script input...) and there aren't that many Blackhawks out there that don't belong to DoD. If you are thinking Blackhawk Down, that was filmed in Morocco with US Army aircraft rented from USAREUR. DoD *did* cooperate with that one.

And most of us didn't recognize any units we'd been in... except for how Hollywood *perceives* our units. And even though I'll grant a lot of leeway for artistic license in trying to portray a complex war in a simple format... these transportation grunts sure look a lot more like they are fighting the combat arms war... Bochco was trapped into that. The grunts, tankers, and artillerymen who pretty much fought the war portrayed in the first episode don't have the women that *had* to be there in the core cast. But we had to have the women, and the IED, etc, so they were forced to have this group as service support soldiers... but what we saw there isn't the average transportation platoon's fight in Iraq. Better they had chosen an MP unit like Raven 42, that would have been much better in terms of realism, let them really examine some stuff that has to be unrealistically overlain on this group of people (Raven 42... you get the Guard, kickass female Leaders(!), heroes... and a thankless, hard job with plenty of room for kvetching). Of course, a lot of people know about Raven 42, so you couldn't have made them out to be the tired, recycled 70's cliche's we have here. Moving on to the guys who are "Over there..."

The guys in the box, though they didn't see it, read the reviews and synopses and trashed it for a complete hash of the How Things Work, Over There.

I want to see this show if only for laughs, but as I am currently "over there" that's not really an option. But I've been reading about it with interest. If this is really about a tranportation platoon, than they would spend about half the show driving up and down the highways between the major FOBs (Forward Operating Bases) and the other half playing X-box in their CHU (container housing unit - sort of like a small trailer that houses about a squad). Maybe once in a month or two their convoy would hit an IED and even more seldom than that IED would injure or kill someone. Even though logistic convoys are easier targets to hit (though not necessaryily), IED bombers usually target combat patrols because it looks better on Al Jeezra. It wouldn't be a very exciting show unless it had some great characters or dialog like MASH did, which apparently it doesn't. Oh, and they certainly wouldn't be going any where near a mosque. I sure hope they had 3-star approval to assault that mosque; if not, they're in deep do-do with UCMJ.

Okay. For the most part, it looks like it lived down to the low expectations we set for it.

Has anyone trolled Kos and the like to see what *they* have to say?

If they hate it, that's a Good Sign.

If they like it...

But I'm not willing to look for myself. The doc says to keep an eye on my bloodpressure.

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John | Permalink | Comments (12) | Observations on things Military
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