A. O. Scott on Iraq War Films

A War on Every Screen:

And this may be the lesson that filmmakers need to absorb as they think about how to deal with the current war. It’s not a melodrama or a whodunit or even a lavish epic. It’s a franchise.

Frankly, he’s wrong. The war is a criminal melodrama, a criminal whodunit, a criminal lavish epic, and a criminal franchise. And much of that I detailed in fictive form in the novel Homefront 4 years ago. If the history of the movies is any guide it’s probably too much for Hollywood:

In the opening weeks of the US invasion of Iraq, Carolyn Thompson found herself with her husband on the front stoop of the house telling the media assembled on the grass and on the dirt and gravel drive that her soldier son Aaron had died for – “He died for all of us,” she said, when in fact, as she now knew, it would have been far more accurate to say that Aaron had been killed by all of us, that Aaron and the rest of the foot-soldiers had been sent as cannon fodder, however lethal, by the government of the United States and by the powerful corporate forces that drove and staffed and otherwise held large purchase on the government, and that Aaron had been killed by everyone in the US who had let the government, the corporate media and other cheerleaders carry out the illegal and otherwise criminal invasion and occupation of Iraq – an act on the same moral level as that of the conquest of Iraq by Hulagu Khan, grandson of Genghis Khan, nearly 800 years earlier when his invading legions overran the Middle East. This was the way Carolyn understood the context of her son’s death, now.

Carolyn had begun to see the fiction for the fact in the misleading reports on TV, on the radio, and in print, and what was more, she had heard it on her own lips – “He died for all of us.”

She knew better now. Because of. Not for.

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