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Media February 22, 2009

Posted by lcowie in My History.
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I said in my last post that I wouldn’t be able to handle being in a war. How do I know this? Other than keeping in touch with Nick, I have tried to learn about the war through the media.

Of course the media can be quite biased; does this director support the war/President Bush? was this journalist embedded with a platoon overseas and therefore has some kind of bias presented in his or her writing?

Literature

soldiersI cannot remember where I first heard about Rick Atkinson, but apparently he was embedded with the 101st Airborne Division (which has become Nick’s brigade) in March 2003.

I enjoyed Atkinson’s book, In the Company of Soldiers, because I could relate to some of what he was talking about. His descriptions of Hopkinsville, Ky. and Fort Campbell, as well as pre-deployment preparations, sounded quite familiar. As a journalism major, it was interesting to read a firsthand encounter of the war from an accomplished journalist. Atkinson spent much of his time discussing Maj. Gen. David Petraeus and other senior officials.

Around the time that Nick deployed to Iraq, my literature teacher assigned our class to read Tim O’Brien’s The Things They Carried. I never knew I could enjoy a book about the Vietnam War as much I enjoyed this one! I remember reading it on the plane ride to and from Fort Campbell in September. I was really interested in reading about the soldiers. O’Brien did an excellent job of portraying these soldiers not just as muscular robots, but as real humans – mostly teenagers and young adults. I was also interested in the role that women played in this novel; as many military personnel would say, girlfriends and wives are useless when it comes to deployment. Boy, I certainly did not like being lumped into that stereotypical category. I wanted to prove that one wrong.

I am looking forward to reading Colby Buzzell’s My War: Killing Time in Iraq. Buzzell was born on the splendid day of July 18 (just like me) but I am interested in reading this book because it started out as a blog. Buzzell, a former soldier in the Army, certainly has the experience and perspective that I am interested in hearing.

Music

Music concerning the Iraq War has been quite interesting. Obviously much of it comes from the country genre, with Darryl Worley’s “Have You Forgotten?” and Toby Keith’s “American Soldier.” Nick loved that latter. I couldn’t stand to listen to it because it was so true and so sad. I also do not enjoy listening to Tim McGraw’s “If You’re Reading This.” These songs are too sad. It’s a good thing Clint Black came out with “Iraq and I Roll” and Keith changed his tone with “Courtesy of the Red, White, and Blue.” Very supportive music, I’d say.

I once spent an hour-and-a-half watching WWE because it was a special salute-to-the-troops edition. Apparently some of the WWE characters visited Iraq and put on a special show for the troops. Yes, I watched the show because I was hoping I’d see Nick’s face among all those soldiers!

Cinema

Lately, I’ve become very interested in movies. It’s interesting to see how different directors put a spin on things and see what they have chosen to highlight.

elahI really enjoyed In the Valley of Elah, though I would not necessarily say that this is a movie that wholeheartedly supports the war. It’s about the murder of a soldier who has just returned from Iraq and a father’s quest to find out who did it and why. Tommy Lee Jones and Charlize Theron star in this movie. Many of the men who played soldiers in this movie were actually in the military. This may be why I like this movie so much; these soldiers/actors were able to lend credibility to their roles.

On the other hand, I was a smidge-bit disappointed with Home of the Brave. It was very interesting but I think it was a little exaggerated, or at least biased. I would certainly see it again, though. Jessica Biel and Samuel L. Jackson are in this movie.

I was not too crazy about Battle for Haditha. I thought the idea of portraying US Marines, terrorists and an Iraqi family was quite interesting. However, I just got bored halfway through the movie. There were too many subtitles, and I am more interested in the US involvement on this matter. In any event, it was interesting to see the terrorist, and definitely the Iraqi family, point of view.

Once again, I was disappointed with Harsh Times. I really like Christian Bale, but I wish I could have seen more about his experience in the military. The movie states that he was a soldier, but I would have liked to see how he was during his service. I think this would have thickened the plot more to see if or how his character had changed (especially as a result of being in the military).

I really enjoyed Stop-Loss, simply because Nick has expressed his worrystoploss that he will be stop-lossed when it comes time for him to leave the Army. I wanted to learn more about what “stop-loss” means, and this movie showed an interesting perspective. I imagine Channing Tatum and Ryan Phillipe represented the feelings that Nick would probably feel. I cried during the scene when they were deploying because I knew how it felt (at least from MY experience and perspective — I cannot imagine how THEY must have felt).

Sooner or later, I plan on watching Grace is Gone, The Lucky Ones, and The Marine. It’s only a matter of time. Right now I am fixed on movies about the Iraq War because I want to know what people think about our current situation and those involved. Maybe later I will watch movies about World War I or II or Vietnam.

Lectures

Lectures are another way that I have tried to learn about this war. Elon has hosted a variety of sessions about Iraqi culture and the war. During a student debate, students from both political parties discussed what the presidential candidates should do about the war.

Iraqi journalist Ahmed Fadaam spoke to my Reporting for the Public Good class in the Fall. It was really interesting to hear his perspective on the invasion because he was actually in Iraq when it all happened. He had good advice about American-Iraqi relations.

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