"over there" the teevee show

So I happened to spend an extremely lazy Saturday evening watching the boob tube, and I stumbled across multiple episodes of the FX show about soldiers in Iraq. I was just curious what the perception of this show was around here, as it gave me a few quick impressions.
It definitely met the standard of employing realistic special effects, but always stopping short of the real thing. I mean, I would never be tasked with an endeavour such as this, but if I were, I would definitely not emulate the film style of action movies, abbreviated for the cop tv show format. Rather, I would go with the sort of things pornographers do, drawing out individually meaningless moments almost indefinitely to ensure that every wanker out there gets his fair share. In this case, one need merely substitute “shallow sexual gratification” with “disturbing visceral overload” and you’re halfway there. It isn’t the blood on the flaks that makes it real, it’s the bullshit smeared on everyone’s face; it’s not the disgust with the hard choices and how they are handled, it’s the rage over the abuse of the easy ones.

Along that same note, I wonder what it would be like to see a drama of this sort that avoids synthesizing audience friendly, palpable conflicts in a 30 minute nugget, but rather mans up to the inconsequential nonsense that absolutely knots up your life in a combat zone. It’s not some officer making a bad call that ends up with people unnecessarily killed that breaks you, it’s a random fruit in your chain of command eliminating girl pictures (including that nice picture of you and your wife at the beach) in personal areas altogether on the off chance that a female might come within a mile of a photograph of another woman and file a harrassment form. For those of you unfamiliar with the infantry, the chances of even that are virtually nil. So I guess that pretty much leaves us with Eraserhead in the desert with guns, but at least it would try to be truthful.

Which brings me to my next point. Either portray the life of pogs or do the infantry, but one of those is going to have regular female characters and one isn’t. Each one certainly has plenty to offer a filmmaker with some skills…I think whole season arcs could be built around the guilt trips people pull on themselves when they’re deployed to a place where they’re just as likely to die as the grunts are but never get to shoot back or even have the lack of decency to pretend they’re a triggerpuller on the phone. But don’t give me grunts that have the time and opportunity to develop a genuine cheating relationship with another military female. If that’s not too much to ask.

Now, I grant that the Army’s experience in X will have varied from mine. There’s no doubt there are cultural differences and options for deployment that vary from ours. I’m just not going to sit back and divorce myself from the reality I know for the purposes of enjoying a tv show…I feel like those dumbasses that watch war films and critique the tactics of Hollywood actors.

Now, pluses:the equipment and other such details are pretty accurate. The unconventional nature of missions and enemy contacts seem to be in there, albeit sparked with stereotypes and unnecessary heroism and drama where standard operating procedure would have likely sufficed. And the effort, the nugget of truth that weasels past the extras. I’d rather hear the story told wrong than not at all (that’s for you Platoon fans out there).

So, I’m sure you all knwo why this is here rather than in the tv forum. Honestly, I’m interested in personal impressions re the war, not just divorced from the reality that I feel must not be weighing sufficiently in critics’ assessments of Over There. It always seems so impersonal…I find it hard to believe that the talking class could really be that separate from the war as to consider its portrayal on its entertainment value alone.

Personally, I don’t see how it’s possible to make entertainment war-porn good. It’s like circuses were to the Romans. I’d be all for showing the real thing uncensored, like Vietnam era footage, but this cannot be more than mere propaganda.

How many WWII propaganda films have been made? Germans bad, us good, poor, poor jews, etc. Hah, by watching the films released in the past 20 years one could get the impression that during WWII the casualties were like 90% jews, 10% everyone else :P Lets face it, if it has anything to do with war or politics then it IS propaganda. There is nothing wrong with propaganda as long as it is in our favor. Anyway, the point of a tv show is to entertain. I find Over There a little boring. I would say if it doesn’t really entertain then its failed as both propaganda and as a tv show.

Some argue that our troops are acting like quasi police officers “over there”, not the “grunts” they are supposed to be. Even so, its not like the majority of movies or shows are actually true to reality- even war films.

Propaganda is dumb and bad. Not every piece of information related to politics or warfare or whatever is propaganda. End of post.

It’s started to air over here as well, but given the lack of noise about it I’d pretty much ended up dismissing it as probably not worth watching.

That it’s also attempting to turn current events into enter/edu-tainment is also a bit offputting for me. There is perhaps a suspicion that a TV series running alongside the current events that it is attempting to portray is not going to particularly try and tell it “like it is” and will either be overly critical or overly glossy about what’s going on.

That said, my interest has been piqued and I’ll try and take a look at it and see what I make of it.

This is why I liked the movie “Jarhead”. It focused on all the boring details and minutae of a deployment where the character didn’t even really get to see combat. Also, some of the quieter down-time scenes in “Black Hawk Down”.

I don’t know why there’s a need for fiction at all, when this whole war is being sent back more or less real-time by a constellation of digital video cameras. I’ll take one “Gunner Palace” over the whole lot of inevitable Stone/Kubrick/Bay interpretations.

I really think the issue of propaganda is misplaced here, because Over There does not strike me as such, any more than The Shield is police propaganda. I really find it hard to believe that anyone would be driven to enlist or support the war because of it, or even viceversa. If anything, it goes overboard trying to balance perspectives, and is probably at its best when dealing with the wives left behind. It’s grasp of the larger issues, however, seems lacking in intensity as a consequence. That would be alright if it adopted a “the troops on the ground don’t really care about the big picture” approach, but it seems to substitute empty platitudes and cliches for perspective.

Yeah, me too. Which is why I don’t understand the hostility levelled at Jarhead. People seemed genuinely angry that it did not mirror the propaganda of earlier films or, conversely, the extreme condemnation they offer. Rather, it was just kind of true, which I guess bothered a lot of people. They don’t want to see average and fucked up when they see the military;they just want their idealistic preconceived notions (in either direction) met.

I think documentaries and newsmen are at least as prone to deception as fiction. In fact, I think sometimes a creative, entertaining focus can be as revealing as some earnest documentarians often agenda driven product. Not speaking about Gunner’s Palace here, but generally.

Yeah, me too. Which is why I don’t understand the hostility levelled at Jarhead.

I finally got round to seeing it last night and personally thought it was best recent hollywood film about a war (or perhaps to be more accurate the people in it) that I’ve ever seen.

It was pretty much praised up and down here in Sac, but that may be because the author of the book grew up here and we always represent for the home team.

I remember the Jarhead thread in the Movies forum being unusually down on the film long before it had even come out, from people that had and hadn’t read the book. There was already a negative buzz building from moronic promilitary types (especially veterans of dubious origin) and generic antimilitary types (who simply oppose all movies that don’t portray us as butchers), and it had caught on quite well with impressionable types. That was sort of symbolic of the bigger picture outside qt3 (for once), where the camps seemed pretty evenly divided.

I’d love to see a show made just of the stupid, idiotic stuff that white trash army wives do while their men are deployed. Like, oh I don’t know, blow your husband’s entire reenlistment bonus on clothing and shoes while your baby is cold and hungry because you neglected to pay the electricity or gas bills. In the meantime, your husband is absolutely powerless to do anything, even divorce you to get child custody, because how the hell is he going to raise a baby in the middle of a combat zone?