Monday, July 14, 2008

A Killer: HBO's "Generation Kill" is phenomenal. It is a dramatization of an embed experience with US soldiers while en route in 2003 to Iraq. As the series progresses it is supposed to reflect the milieu of the US soldier as they slog through the Iraq War experience. I do not know how the film crew got the logistics together so expertly or how they acquired such a perfect cast but they did. It is probably one of the best if not THE best docudrama ever shown.

The violence, at least in the first episode, was NOT an issue for me as the episode concentrated on the relationships and the character of the group more than what they were there to do i.e. kill. Despite the possibility of watching violence as the war unfolds, I believe this drama is a must see.

I have very mixed emotions. I am a realist. I know the realities of an often brutal world. Our soldiers, I believe, are the only ones standing between us and world assault against us. However, their culture as depicted in the film, and often their views, are hard for me to take. This film presents an image of our military which while showing its incredible strength and phenomenal professionalism also shows a condescending cruelty, some extreme right wing political philosophies, love for the fight and love for killing to which I cannot relate. There is plenty of white supremacism thrown into the mix with the verbal constancy of crude vicious hatred of all things homosexual and insults spewed often towards women.

Their views toward Iraqis are often ones of indifference and a lack of cultural understanding. They are incredulous by what they see. The military hierarchy in its ineptness sees fit to give them but one Iraqi translator. Didn’t someone in the Pentagon think that our soldiers just might want to communicate with those they confront, capture or wound? I cannot even imagine how an Iraqi felt as they cowed their head in fear of the alien American assault. The two humanities saw each other but did not understand what they saw. It seemed as if the two peoples were from different planets.

Perhaps underneath all of the crudity, profanity, significant racism and sexist comments lies a profound fear for what the Marines are about to encounter. Perhaps, in the final analysis, our soldiers are more than Marines. They are human beings and young boys with incredible energy, Herculean bodies and brute strength playing the war games they loved as a child. This time though the stakes are higher. They cannot end the game when they want and go home to mom. War transcends the macho machismo that feels and looks so good. War means death, it means disability, it means fear and it means tragedy. It means making the once invincible vincible. It means encountering things made only of nightmares. No war can avoid that. I think these Marines despite their bravado know that deep down underneath. These soldiers are in the military because they WANT to be. Why they do is beyond me. This program is riveting. It is, uniquely, television at its very best.