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Why The Hurt Locker shouldn’t have won

#1
While I have my own concerns about this movie in terms of misleading an otherwise ignorant audience as to the realities of war, and especially as fought by US forces, Mr. Streithorst is way off the mark in his obviously biased view of US military. While there are of course instances (as in any military in any combat setting)where individual soldiers commit criminal acts, to suggest that it is commonplace and “routine’ is simply not supported by the FACTS. It is ironic and characteristically hypocritical that he has fallen victim to the very thing he purports to critique–the genre of military movies that cloaks virulent anti-military agendas (depicting one war crime after another) with superficial technical (jargon, uniforms, equipment, special effects etc.) accuracy such as Platoon, Full Metal Jacket, Casualties of War, Generation Kill, Jarhead ad nauseam.

Why The Hurt Locker shouldn’t have won
Tom Streithorst — 8th March 2010


I’ve always been a huge Kathryn Bigelow fan. Near Dark is certainly the greatest redneck vampire film ever made, and who can forget the flaming gasoline-wielding “ex presidents” in Point Break? I even liked the gun fetishist stalker in Blue Steel, so when The Hurt Locker came out last year, I was very excited. Pretty much as soon as it arrived in London, I called up my friend Jonah and off we went to see it in Piccadilly Circus.

Jonah and I met in Gaza. We are both journos who have spent a fair bit of time embedded with the US military in Iraq, which I guess either makes us the perfect audience or the worst audience for this film. I hate to say that when we came out of the movie, we were both disappointed.

Let me begin by saying what Bigelow did get right. The film, shot in Amman, Jordan, looks like Baghdad. The dirt, the dust, the omnipresent brown, the ugly concrete block architecture, the empty and garbage-strewn boulevards, the trailers on the American bases, all look real. The handheld 16mm cameras make it feel like documentary footage. The relationships between the soldiers are spot on. There is a wonderful scene where reckless cowboy Sergeant James spots targets for the sniper rifle-wielding Sergeant Sanborn. The two had just had a big fight but they work together with the practiced professionalism that is the hallmark of the US military. In combat, the dispute, the disagreements are forgotten. Each man does his job, supports his comrade.

Before making Apocalypse Now, Francis Ford Coppola famously made a list of all the things that should go into a Vietnam war movie. If I were to make such a list for Iraq, it would include: Egyptian interpreters who don’t understand Iraqi Arabic and their American bosses who don’t have a clue they are making up both questions and answers, US soldiers who spend their entire tour in Iraq never leaving the base, and grizzled Mississippian truck drivers earning over $100,000 a year hauling the pork chops and ice cream from Kuwait that feed the troops. But the most important thing I would include is the casual killing of innocent Iraqi civilians, not from malice but from fear and misunderstanding.

Three scenes are absolutely wrong. In one, Sergeant James escapes his base and roams Baghdad by himself, lost and confused, looking for an Iraqi he suspects of killing a boy. No, Americans never leave the base by themselves. In the second, the soldiers wander around their base, drunk out of their minds. One of the exceptional features of the Iraq war is it is probably the first war ever fought without alcohol or drugs. And, in the last and worst, our boys have their guns aimed at an Iraqi they suspect to be a car bomber. Despite his repeatedly not obeying their orders to back up, they don’t shoot him, even though they themselves might die.

I repeat, I have massive admiration for the American soldiers in Iraq. In my experience they are brave without being brutal. It is an honorable military: the most honorable and the least vicious I have hung out with. But its primary ethos is one of limiting US casualties. In the film, Sergeant James is a cowboy, eager to risk his life, yet ever careful of not risking the lives of Iraqi civilians. In my experience this is the wrong way around. The cowboys in the US military are never reckless with their own or their comrades’ lives, but careless with those of the Iraqis.

Maybe my criticisms are trivial and meaningless to those without experience in Iraq. I’m glad Kathryn Bigelow won the Oscar. She is a great director with stunning command of film language but, I have to say, The Hurt Locker gives an inaccurate portrait of the Iraq war.
http://www.prospectmagazine.co.uk/2...ouldnt-have-won/comment-page-1/#comment-16846
 
#5
Thing is, the septics dont want reality, they want to see their all American boys making the world a better place while risking their lives defending the good and the innocent.
Im going to watch it on dodgy DVD later.
 
#6
1 - It's a film
2 - It's an American film
3 - It's a film aimed at an American audience
4 - What were the other nominated films
5 - Who cares :)
 
#8
shimna01 said:
Its only a movie
Perhaps to those who know better. To the majority of the audiences, however, it is much more than that in that the "reality" those viewers receive is quite distorted, largely due to the political agendas of the uber-liberal producers (Oliver Stone for example) camouflaged by the superficial accuracy imparted by advisors like Dale Dye who turned lackluster military careers (he retired as a captain whose specialty was public affairs) into million dollar gigs. I saw this phenomenon for real in trying to disabuse young Marines who grew up on such fare as Platoon, Apocalypse Now and FMJ that it was not ok to use drugs, kill one's superiors, rape and abuse civilians etc.
 
#9
jumpinjarhead said:
shimna01 said:
Its only a movie
Perhaps to those who know better. to the majority of the audiences, however, it is much more than that in that the "reality" those viewers receive is quite distorted. I saw this phenomenon at work in trying to disabuse young Marines who grew upon such fare as Platoon, Apocalypse Now and FMJ that it was not ok to kill one's superiors, rape and abuse civilians etc.
To be fair, half of the US don't even know where Iraq is!
 
#10
Yeah, it was'nt so bad. For a piss-poor budget, the individual performances were pretty good and she/they managed to reproduce some of the tension and goat-fck decisions that are made on Ops.

What grips my spine is that the overwhelmingly radical/liberal 'elite' of Follywood queue up to fondle The Blessed Obama, save rainforests, whales, tuna, shrimp, krill, etc but really could not give a flying fck about the men and women on the ground and yet spend an inordinate amount of time hugging themselves in glee at the 'bravery' in bringing such gritty realism to the screen.

At least Kathryn Bigelow had the honesty to acknowledge the troops.
 
#11
smudge67 said:
jumpinjarhead said:
shimna01 said:
Its only a movie
Perhaps to those who know better. to the majority of the audiences, however, it is much more than that in that the "reality" those viewers receive is quite distorted. I saw this phenomenon at work in trying to disabuse young Marines who grew upon such fare as Platoon, Apocalypse Now and FMJ that it was not ok to kill one's superiors, rape and abuse civilians etc.
To be fair, half of the US don't even know where Iraq is!
Oh I would think after 7 years of war we KNOW where Iraq is. :roll: As for "Hurt Locker", it makes an interesting movie , but is not to be relied upon to tell the real story. :p
 

Joker62

ADC
Book Reviewer
#12
smudge67 said:
jumpinjarhead said:
shimna01 said:
Its only a movie
Perhaps to those who know better. to the majority of the audiences, however, it is much more than that in that the "reality" those viewers receive is quite distorted. I saw this phenomenon at work in trying to disabuse young Marines who grew upon such fare as Platoon, Apocalypse Now and FMJ that it was not ok to kill one's superiors, rape and abuse civilians etc.
To be fair, half of the US don't even know where Iraq is!
TBH, Smudge, half of the US doesn't know where the other half is.
 
#13
FourZeroCharlie said:
Yeah, it was'nt so bad. For a piss-poor budget, the individual performances were pretty good and she/they managed to reproduce some of the tension and goat-fck decisions that are made on Ops.

What grips my spine is that the overwhelmingly radical/liberal 'elite' of Follywood queue up to fondle The Blessed Obama, save rainforests, whales, tuna, shrimp, krill, etc but really could not give a flying fck about the men and women on the ground and yet spend an inordinate amount of time hugging themselves in glee at the 'bravery' in bringing such gritty realism to the screen.

At least Kathryn Bigelow had the honesty to acknowledge the troops.
I stand by my position that in spite of the "gritty realism" the nuances of this genre of films in terms of the plot and characters do as much damage to the military in general as it does good in terms of the perceptions of the vast majority of viewers who have no real basis for comparison as civilians. They are the ones that the producers are trying to influence to their often anti-war, anti-military, anti-authority perspectives.

The upcoming and much bally-hooed (due to the Hanks/Spielburg/Goetzman involvement that brought us Band of Brothers) HBO series, "The Pacific" is no different. I attended a special advance premiere several weeks ago and was disappointed (though not really surprised) to see that in the very first battle sequence, there was a gratuitous scene of a captain cowering in his foxhole while his gallant men carried on the battle. While I realize such things happen in every combat, this was obviously added in by the producers since it does not appear anywhere in the books that the producers say were used as the basis for the screenplay. Indeed, if the producers were really driven by their professed quest for accuracy, they would know that for the officer to have been a captain in the Marines on Guadalcanal in 1942, this necessarily meant due to time in grade requirements he was of the "Old Breed"--those professionals who were in the Marines before Pearl Harbor and who generally performed heroically and competently, especially in the early stages of WWII when experience was at a premium.

My point is that given the limited screen time for any film, the producers make carefully chosen decisions for each and every scene included in the final cut. Accordingly, and especially when a scene is clearly fictional in that the source material does not support it, one has to ask why it was deemed worthy of inclusion. It does not take a rocket scientist to see why this scene was included (just as the many similar scenes in the other movies of this genre of cowardly and incompetent leaders, rebellious yet lovable and infinitely wise squaddies, routine criminal conduct etc.) as it plays into the well-documented biases of "Hollywood" against authority in general and the military culture specifically (notwithstanding the somewhat hollow protestations of some that they merely hate war but "love" the soldier when at the same time so often demeaning the soldier as someone who cannot do anything else in life).
 
#14
Joker62 said:
smudge67 said:
jumpinjarhead said:
shimna01 said:
Its only a movie
Perhaps to those who know better. to the majority of the audiences, however, it is much more than that in that the "reality" those viewers receive is quite distorted. I saw this phenomenon at work in trying to disabuse young Marines who grew upon such fare as Platoon, Apocalypse Now and FMJ that it was not ok to kill one's superiors, rape and abuse civilians etc.
To be fair, half of the US don't even know where Iraq is!
TBH, Smudge, half of the US doesn't know where the other half is.
Perhaps but consider for just a moment if the US really didn't know (or care) where anyplace other than the good old US of A is. How would the UK like to be relied upon and often expected to be first into every hot spot, whether man-made or natural disaster? I realize many take issue with our intrusion into places like Iraq, but that usually is a function of 20/20 hindsight as is plain if you bother to go back and look at the news from 1991-2003 in both the US and UK when so many were wringing their hands over the evil Saddam and his continual thumbing his nose at the UN, WMDs or no WMDs.

Not surprisingly, many in the US find it a bit disingenuous when we are slagged at nearly every turn when the reality is that most western nations ultimately rely on the US in one way or the other for at least a part of their national security assurance or to go to the rescue of some god-forsaken place that is ravaged by earthquake, tsunami, famine, pestilence or terror.
 
#15
Ruckerwocman said:
smudge67 said:
jumpinjarhead said:
shimna01 said:
Its only a movie
Perhaps to those who know better. to the majority of the audiences, however, it is much more than that in that the "reality" those viewers receive is quite distorted. I saw this phenomenon at work in trying to disabuse young Marines who grew upon such fare as Platoon, Apocalypse Now and FMJ that it was not ok to kill one's superiors, rape and abuse civilians etc.
To be fair, half of the US don't even know where Iraq is!
Oh I would think after 7 years of war we KNOW where Iraq is. :roll: As for "Hurt Locker", it makes an interesting movie , but is not to be relied upon to tell the real story. :p
Really? I was talking to an American couple in Oxford 2 weeks ago, they were after directions to the castle, they asked what I did, I told them I was in the Army and was having a good chat about working with the USMC in Camp Bastion - Helmand province. They looked confused; so I said: "Afghanistan!" His reply; "Oh just outside Baghdad!"

I finally get them to Oxford Castle where the woman says, with a rather disapointed look on her face; "So this is where the Queen lives then?" I took them to the Castle Tavern and told them they could get info on Queens there. :)
 
#16
jumpinjarhead said:
FourZeroCharlie said:
Yeah, it was'nt so bad. For a piss-poor budget, the individual performances were pretty good and she/they managed to reproduce some of the tension and goat-fck decisions that are made on Ops.

What grips my spine is that the overwhelmingly radical/liberal 'elite' of Follywood queue up to fondle The Blessed Obama, save rainforests, whales, tuna, shrimp, krill, etc but really could not give a flying fck about the men and women on the ground and yet spend an inordinate amount of time hugging themselves in glee at the 'bravery' in bringing such gritty realism to the screen.

At least Kathryn Bigelow had the honesty to acknowledge the troops.
I stand by my position that in spite of the "gritty realism" the nuances of this genre of films in terms of the plot and characters do as much damage to the military in general as it does good in terms of the perceptions of the vast majority of viewers who have no real basis for comparison as civilians. They are the ones that the producers are trying to influence to their often anti-war, anti-military, anti-authority perspectives.

The upcoming and much bally-hooed (due to the Hanks/Spielburg/Goetzman involvement that brought us Band of Brothers) HBO series, "The Pacific" is no different. I attended a special advance premiere several weeks ago and was disappointed (though not really surprised) to see that in the very first battle sequence, there was a gratuitous scene of a captain cowering in his foxhole while his gallant men carried on the battle. While I realize such things happen in every combat, this was obviously added in by the producers since it does not appear anywhere in the books that the producers say were used as the basis for the screenplay. Indeed, if the producers were really driven by their professed quest for accuracy, they would know that for the officer to have been a captain in the Marines on Guadalcanal in 1942, this necessarily meant due to time in grade requirements he was of the "Old Breed"--those professionals who were in the Marines before Pearl Harbor and who generally performed heroically and competently, especially in the early stages of WWII when experience was at a premium.

My point is that given the limited screen time for any film, the producers make carefully chosen decisions for each and every scene included in the final cut. Accordingly, and especially when a scene is clearly fictional in that the source material does not support it, one has to ask why it was deemed worthy of inclusion. It does not take a rocket scientist to see why this scene was included (just as the many similar scenes in the other movies of this genre of cowardly and incompetent leaders, rebellious yet lovable and infinitely wise squaddies, routine criminal conduct etc.) as it plays into the well-documented biases of "Hollywood" against authority in general and the military culture specifically (notwithstanding the somewhat hollow protestations of some that they merely hate war but "love" the soldier when at the same time so often demeaning the soldier as someone who cannot do anything else in life).
Then what do you propose JJ? There have been movies made in cooperation with the US armed services (Top Gun and Blackhawk Down are two examples) but they aren't necessarily better. There are other "pro US" war movies (every Chuck Norris film) which are so dire as to be laughable. Do you think someone like you should be appointed chief censor of war movies? At the end of the day it's entertainment not historical record. There are plenty of very good books and documentaries out there for those who want to know what really happened. If a a film or TV show gets some people interested enough in the subject to find out, hasn't it at least done some service?

My suggestion, if it bothers you so much, get off your arrse, write a script (perhaps in co-operation with someone) and try and get it financed.

BTW I thought Band of Brothers was very good (obviously, as all film/TV dramatizations are, not entirely accurate). Just from the trailers The Pacific doesn't look like it will be up to the same standard.
 
#19
baboon6 said:
jumpinjarhead said:
FourZeroCharlie said:
Yeah, it was'nt so bad. For a piss-poor budget, the individual performances were pretty good and she/they managed to reproduce some of the tension and goat-fck decisions that are made on Ops.

What grips my spine is that the overwhelmingly radical/liberal 'elite' of Follywood queue up to fondle The Blessed Obama, save rainforests, whales, tuna, shrimp, krill, etc but really could not give a flying fck about the men and women on the ground and yet spend an inordinate amount of time hugging themselves in glee at the 'bravery' in bringing such gritty realism to the screen.

At least Kathryn Bigelow had the honesty to acknowledge the troops.
I stand by my position that in spite of the "gritty realism" the nuances of this genre of films in terms of the plot and characters do as much damage to the military in general as it does good in terms of the perceptions of the vast majority of viewers who have no real basis for comparison as civilians. They are the ones that the producers are trying to influence to their often anti-war, anti-military, anti-authority perspectives.

The upcoming and much bally-hooed (due to the Hanks/Spielburg/Goetzman involvement that brought us Band of Brothers) HBO series, "The Pacific" is no different. I attended a special advance premiere several weeks ago and was disappointed (though not really surprised) to see that in the very first battle sequence, there was a gratuitous scene of a captain cowering in his foxhole while his gallant men carried on the battle. While I realize such things happen in every combat, this was obviously added in by the producers since it does not appear anywhere in the books that the producers say were used as the basis for the screenplay. Indeed, if the producers were really driven by their professed quest for accuracy, they would know that for the officer to have been a captain in the Marines on Guadalcanal in 1942, this necessarily meant due to time in grade requirements he was of the "Old Breed"--those professionals who were in the Marines before Pearl Harbor and who generally performed heroically and competently, especially in the early stages of WWII when experience was at a premium.

My point is that given the limited screen time for any film, the producers make carefully chosen decisions for each and every scene included in the final cut. Accordingly, and especially when a scene is clearly fictional in that the source material does not support it, one has to ask why it was deemed worthy of inclusion. It does not take a rocket scientist to see why this scene was included (just as the many similar scenes in the other movies of this genre of cowardly and incompetent leaders, rebellious yet lovable and infinitely wise squaddies, routine criminal conduct etc.) as it plays into the well-documented biases of "Hollywood" against authority in general and the military culture specifically (notwithstanding the somewhat hollow protestations of some that they merely hate war but "love" the soldier when at the same time so often demeaning the soldier as someone who cannot do anything else in life).
Then what do you propose JJ? There have been movies made in cooperation with the US armed services (Top Gun and Blackhawk Down are two examples) but they aren't necessarily better. There are other "pro US" war movies (every Chuck Norris film) which are so dire as to be laughable. Do you think someone like you should be appointed chief censor of war movies? At the end of the day it's entertainment not historical record. There are plenty of very good books and documentaries out there for those who want to know what really happened. If a a film or TV show gets some people interested enough in the subject to find out, hasn't it at least done some service?

My suggestion, if it bothers you so much, get off your arrse, write a script (perhaps in co-operation with someone) and try and get it financed.

BTW I thought Band of Brothers was very good (obviously, as all film/TV dramatizations are, not entirely accurate). Just from the trailers The Pacific doesn't look like it will be up to the same standard.
I will pass on the screenplay suggestion. I will merely be a voice in the wilderness reminding those who do not know better that they are being crassly manipulated by much (not all) of what film makers produce in terms of "war movies." Films are like any other commodity and those who "consume" them should be aware of what is really in them.
 
#20
jumpinjarhead said:
shimna01 said:
Its only a movie
Perhaps to those who know better. To the majority of the audiences, however, it is much more than that in that the "reality" those viewers receive is quite distorted, largely due to the political agendas of the uber-liberal producers (Oliver Stone for example) camouflaged by the superficial accuracy imparted by advisors like Dale Dye who turned lackluster military careers (he retired as a captain whose specialty was public affairs) into million dollar gigs. I saw this phenomenon for real in trying to disabuse young Marines who grew up on such fare as Platoon, Apocalypse Now and FMJ that it was not ok to use drugs, kill one's superiors, rape and abuse civilians etc.
Bit of perspective required otherwise you will put yourself in an early grave JJ!

It won an oscar for best picture i think. Which is not an award for most realisitc depiction of the US military on operations.

So in order to win, it had to display all the requirements of a good film (piece of art by the way) good strong plot/storyline-conflict both emotional and physical- love/brotherhood- etc

But isn't it funny how the 'uber -liberal' hollywood keeps selling those films to people. It is after all a film INDUSTRY. If people do not like/want the product it goes bust. But still it makes billions every year in your country alone.

JJ people like their entertainment liberal, its a fact. Everybody knows right wing people can't dance/sing/tell jokes as good as those destroyers of civilisation- liberals!!!!
 

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