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July 13, 2008
Generation Kill (IV) Showtime!By Greyhawk
Can HBO get the war right? Given the multitude of recent non-home box office failures on Iraq, the question is valid, and probably the first on the minds of those familiar with the real war and it's Hollywood history. Here at Mudville we'll do our own mini-series on the topic. This is episode four.
More from the book Generation Kill
These young men represent what is more or less America's first generation of disposable children. More than half of the guys in the platoon come from broken homes and were raised by absentee, single, working parents. Many are on more intimate terms with with video games, reality TV shows and internet porn than they are with their own parents. Before the "War on Terrorism" began, not a whole lot was expected of this generation other than the hope that those in it would squeak through high school without pulling too many more mass shootings in the manner of Columbine.I'd eliminate Haiti, and place the start perhaps at the actual beginning of the war in Iraq in 1990, but otherwise that sounds about right to me.
There are credible critiques of Wright's book from members of the unit, raising issues on his characterization of some senior ranking members of the team (of course, not those he had the most personal contact with - they were exceptional) as incompetent, cowardly, or worse. Not having been there I can't comment on those topics. Out of professional courtesy I'll point out you can find them here and here, (and another worthwhile discussion here) and add that I believe as with many other aspects of the book it's likely that a bit of dramatic license was applied. The "led by the incompetent" theme has has been a cliche of war stories for years - some authors will deliver what they believe the customer expects. But while Evan Wright will never be mistaken for Mike Yon (for instance, he doesn't provide action photos) I can recommend the book Generation Kill without hesitation to those who are building comprehensive collections of books on Iraq, or who simply enjoy a good war story. This is among the best.
Will the miniseries be worth anyone's time? I really hope it is. Two Marines from the unit served as advisers, and one - Rudy Reyez - actually plays himself in the series. No surprise - as a fellow (known smartass) Marine explains in the book: "It doesn't mean you're gay if you think Rudy's hot. He's just so beautiful... we all think he's hot."
But this interview with the series co-creator should certainly serve as a subtle hint to those looking for preservation of the book's unbiased account:
How did working on this series affect your perspective on the war?He should read the book Generation Kill (or just the excerpt in part one of our series) in which we learn that Saddam lied. Meh - some might argue that making money from war movies is also a crime, but others will point out that that's what makes America a great country.
Speaking of freedoms guaranteed by American rough men, in publicizing the series, HBO has launched an extensive ad campaign on hard-core left wing blog sites. This might indicate their concept of an appreciative "target" audience, or perhaps simple understanding of the greater impact advertising has on the gullible.
Meanwhile, for the milbloggers there's this (via email):
HBO AND CORPORATE PARTNERS TEAM UP TO SEND DONATIONS ANDWhich, even if a cynic might claim is only a ploy for free publicity, I think is a fine idea. I sent some batteries and Maxim magazines - at no cost to myself other than clicks of a mouse, for which I'm sure the Hollywood Marines would no doubt say "thanks, fucker."
As for the film, we'll soon know. After all, it's nearly showtime.
Related: The Boo Radleys
Posted by Greyhawk / July 13, 2008 9:39 PM | Permalink
November 26, 2010
I think anyone who's ever pondered the "comment" option - once only available on blogs and bulletin boards, now ubiquitous on almost any web site - will appreciate this:
The so-called faculty of writing is not so much a faculty of writing as it is a faculty of thinking. When a man says, "I have an idea but I can't express it"; that man hasn't an idea but merely a vague feeling. If a man has a feeling of that kind, and will sit down for a half an hour and persistently try to put into writing what he feels, the probabilities are at least 90 percent that he will either be able to record it, or else realize that he has no idea at all. In either case, he will do himself a benefit.
That's wisdom from the past, captured for posterity at the US Naval Institute, shared via the web on the institute's 137th anniversary.
From their about page:
"The Naval Institute has three core activities," among them, History and Preservation:
The Naval Institute also has recently introduced Americans at War, a living history of Americans at war in their own words and from their own experiences. These 90-second vignettes convey powerful stories of inspiration, pride, and patriotism.
Take a look at the collection, and you'll see it's not limited to accounts from those who served on ships at sea, members of the other branches are well-represented.
I'm fortunate to have met USNI's Mary Ripley, she's responsible for the institute's oral history program (and she's the daughter of the late John Ripley, whose story is told here). She also deserves much credit for their blog. ("We're not the Navy nor any government agency. Blog and comment freely.") We met at a milblog conference - Mary knew (and I would come to realize) that milbloggers are the 21st-century version of exactly what the US Naval Institute is all about. Once that light bulb came on in my head, I mentioned a vague idea for a project to her - milblogs as the 21st century oral history that they are.
"Put that in writing," she said (of course - see first paragraph above!) - and here's part of the result.
Shortly after the first tent was pitched by the American military in Iraq a wire was connected to a computer therein, and the internet was available to a generation of Americans at war - many of whom had grown up online. From that point on, at any given moment, somewhere in Iraq a Soldier, Sailor, Airman or Marine was at a keyboard sharing the events of his or her day with the folks back home. While most would simply fire off an email, others took advantage of the (then) relatively new online blogging platforms to post their thoughts and experiences for the entire world to see. The milblog was born - and from that moment to this stories detailing everything from the most mundane aspects of camp life to intense combat action (often described within hours of the event) have been available on the web...
And et cetera - but since you're reading this on a milblog, you probably knew that. And you know that milblogs aren't just blogs written by troops at war, that many friends, family members, and supporters likewise documented their story of America at war online in near-real time, as those stories developed.
The diversity in membership of that group is broad, the one thing we all have in common is the impulse to make sense of the seemingly senseless, and communicate the tale - for each of us that impulse was strong enough to overcome whatever barriers prevent the vast majority of people from doing the same. Everyone at some point has some vague idea they believe should be shared - we were the people who, from some combination of internal and external urging, found and spent those many half hours persistently trying to write it down.
But where will all that be in another 137 years? Or five or ten, for that matter. That's something I've asked myself since at least 2004 - when I wrote this:
Membership in the ghost battalion has grown in the years since, and an ever growing majority of those abandoned-but-still-standing sites are vanishing. Have you checked out Lt Smash's site lately? How about Sgt Hook's? If you're a long-time milblog reader you know the first widely-read milblog from Operation Iraq Freedom and the first widely-read milblog from Afghanistan are both gone from the web. If you're a relative newcomer to this world you may never even have heard of them - or the dozens upon dozens of others who carried forth the standard they set down.
If you have a vague notion that something should be done about that, (a notion I've heard expressed more than once...) then you and I and the good folks at the US Naval Institute are in agreement. Preserving the history documented by the milbloggers is just one of the goals of the milblog project, the once-vague idea that we're now making real.
And it's a big idea, if I say so myself - too big to explain in one simple blog post, so stand by for more. Likewise, it's too big a task to be accomplished by just one person. So if you're a milblogger (and exactly what is a milblogger? is a topic for much further discussion on its own) I'm asking for your help. All I'll really need is just a little bit (maybe just one or two of those half hours...) of your time, and your willingness to tell the tale.
We've already made history, it's time to save it.
(More to follow...)
The Mudville Gazette is the on-line voice of an American warrior and his wife who stands by him. They prefer to see peaceful change render force of arms unnecessary. Until that day they stand fast with those who struggle for freedom, strike for reason, and pray for a better tomorrow.
Furthermore, I will occasionally use satire or parody herein. The bottom line: it's my house.
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