Diary Of A Hollywood Refugee

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Welcome To The Suck

I was able to see an early viewing of "Jarhead", based on Anthony Swofford's autobiography of the same name and recently offered my thoughts on the film in the comments section of a few blogs.

Shortly thereafter, I received several emails asking if I would elaborate as to why I didn't like the film.

Let's start with Hollywood's new found lovefest with all things military EXCEPT our military.

I'm not easily fooled. Let's just say that years of working in "the biz"has left me acutely aware that anything Hollywood does is driven by the almighty dollar and a leftist agenda.

This industry, for the most part, has been vocal about its contempt for our military, our President, Republicans, and the War in Iraq. Collectively the elites lend financial support to leftist organizations like Code Pink(o) and ANSWER, and enjoy being seen in the company of Castro, Saddam, and assorted Mullahs.

The larger Hollywood community has done little to lend its support to our troups, our war on terror, and the families of those in harms way,This sudden emergence of films and tv shows about our Military seems a blantant attempt to cash in on the blood and sweat of deployed men and women who make huge sacrifices to protect us from scumbags who detest our freedoms, our way of life, and are hellbent on killing those of us they cannot subjucate.

Nonetheless, that has nothing to do with my opinion of "Jarhead".

I dislike the film because I disliked the book, alot. Compared to Evan Wright's "Generation Kill", Danjel Bout's milblog, and everything by Michael Yon, the book pales in its ability to leave one with a sense of what life is like in the sandbox, and doesn't offer us a glimpse into a Marine's inner landscape of confused emotions that lie between fear and bravado.It makes no difference that "Jarhead" takes place during the first Gulf War, the leftist agenda and negative perception of our military today permeates this movie, largely because Anthony Swofford has an axe to grind, and I can't figure out why, since He CHOSE to join the Marines.

I found nothing endearing about Anthony Swofford. Period! He is angry, dripping with attitude, disappointment, and cynicism. He isn't a grunt...he 's disgruntled!

In his book he writes " I hated being a Marine because more than all of the things in the world I wanted to be—smart, famous, oversexed, drunk, fucked, high, alone, famous, smart, known, understood, loved, forgiven, oversexed, drunk, high, smart, sexy—more than all of those things, I was a Marine. A jarhead.”

His contempt for the Corps combined with his desire to be famous, which is no doubt why he wrote the book, is distainful. All Tony wants is his 15 minutes of fame and he's got it. But he isn't worthy of the attention, nor of calling himself a Marine.

There are many other Marines whose personal narratives are far more compelling. Their commitment, leadership, courage under fire, and personal sacrifices are the highest example of what being a Marine truly is. Their accomplishments are many, and their stories should be put to film. Instead, we get "Jarhead" - about a messed up arrogant attention seeking jerk who happens to be a Marine sniper.

Under the pressure of war, Tony's tragic weaknesses are exposed, while his band of brothers are consumed with how their wives and girlfriends are being unfaithful, triggered no doubt by having watched a video tape of one guy's wife cheating on him.

What the film lacks in emotion and drama, it more than makes up for on the subject of masturbation! Left hand or right? I'm not oblivious to the reality that time spent in the sandbox is often "hurry up and wait" but there has to be a better way to have translated that boredom on screen.

I'll spare you the details of Anthony's voiceover in the opening, but it's a poetic monologue about a Marine's relationship to his gun; (no, not THAT gun!!) from holding a woman in his arms to changing a baby's diaper, his hands always operate from the muscle memory of holding a gun. While I'm certainly not in a position to know if this is true for every soldier and Marine, I greatly doubt it. Certainly the one I spent time with knew exactly how to hold me...and I assure you he never held a gun that way! The voiceover's covert message is that the humanity of a Marine is permanantly leached from him during bootcamp, turning him into a souless war monger.

Hardly true, but why not feed into the biased view liberals already harbour towards those who choose to join the military!?

I suspect "Jarhead" is meant to examine the mind numbing boredom and terror of war, instead it turns out to be mind numbing and boring. As for experiencing terror, milblogger's accounts of their daily experiences, and Michael Yon's "Gates of Fire" offer up evocative chilling moments of the terrifying realities of war far better than anything Sam Mendes attempts to deliver on screen.

You know a film is void of drama and good writing when it has to rely on its music soundtrack to strongly suggest how you should feel. Visually the movie is equally unimpressive.

Jake Gyllenhaal is the son of politically liberal, anti war director Stephen Gyllenhaal, and screenwriter Naomi Foner. His sister Maggie has been vocal about her thoughts on the war.
Jake says he was challenged in the making of this film, and admits that the experience changed him. "I started the movie with a judgement and opinion as anyone does who hasn't had any experience. But now I am not so sure. I think that's the point of Jarhead. It's not pro-or anti-war".

I respectfully disagree, Jake. There is an anti war subtext that runs through film, and an implicit recurrent message- "I don't like being a Marine..and neither will you".
"Jarhead" doesnt examine the challenges or celebrate the day to day courage that our Marines and soldiers face; its a 1hr and 55min insult to the men and women of the Marines Corps. The Marines are the Few and The Proud, these Marines are the few and the pathetic!

"Welcome to The Suck" - a great tagline that aptly describes this film.

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  • At 5:33 PM, November 02, 2005, Blogger Al's Girl said…

    Well, your review pretty much lines up with the opinion of a lot of people that I trust - so, I won't waste my $$ on "Jarhead".

    Thanks for the heads up!

  • At 3:36 PM, November 03, 2005, Blogger Sgt. B. said…


    Some folks wear the Marine uniform, others are truely MARINES...

    Swofford, you're a MAGGOT!

    So says THIS Marine!

    (I continue to hope that Mel Gibson, Denzel Washington, or Bruce Willis will step up to the plate and produce something taken from the annals of the guys and gals who are motivated to be there... I mean, "We Were Soldiers...", "Courage Under Fire.", "Tears Of The Sun." are fine examples of modern military oriented productions...)


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