Feb. 23rd, 2017

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It was one of the first Vietnam war movies I saw. It was hilariously funny, and I always enjoyed watching the wonderful Robin Williams (sniff) doing his awesome stand up comedy routines about the Cold War.

That being said, even I had to admit that the framing narrative around the comedy routines was a bit… lacking. Oh, it was clearly well intentioned, determined to show the consequences of the war on the Vietnamese population and refusing to make this a stand up war movie. Which was great, except it tackled these concepts with all the subtlety of a rampaging bull with an anvil strapped to its tail. Watching the movie was an interesting exercise in vacillating between laughing your head off and wincing in embarrassment.

So husband and I decided that, since we were going to Vietnam (I am writing this in Hue right now) we would remedy my sad deficit of good Vietnam War movies (the only other I’d seen was Apocalypse Now) and I looked forward to seeing a more nuanced and interesting picture of the war from a Vietnamese perspective.

Well. If you’ve seen any Vietnam War movies, you can guess how well that turned out.

It was about at that point in Platoon where random white POV character says “We did not fight the enemy, we fought ourselves” that I started feeling really fucking insulted on the behalf of the people of Vietnam because what the fuck was the Viet Cong and ANV then? Chopped fucking liver?

Turns out, Good Morning Vietnam was the only Vietnam War movie that even recognised there were people in Vietnam other than Americans, and these people didn’t have names like ‘one legged man’ or ‘woman in village.’

And this pissed me the fuck off because besides being racist as all fuck, telling the Vietnam war from a Vietnamese perspective would make a really really fucking good movie.

I mean, I went on a tour today around the DMZ, with a guide who had been around at the time and could remember the war and what came to me again and again was-

These were people fighting a massively technologically advanced enemy, who was waging war not only against their people but against the whole world around them- poisoning the ground, burning down forests, using immense amounts of hardware they couldn’t dream to match in a direct fight and which could just annihilate everything in their path.

Where have I heard this story before?

I’ve just described the plot to HG Well’s War of the Worlds.

So yeah, fuck Joseph Conrad’s raving racism, the real turn of the century novel-to-Vietnamese war movie is War of the Worlds written from the POV of someone in Da Nang or something when the Americans more in. 

It works on just every level. No one knows if the invaders are going to be good or bad, check. Massive destruction on an unimaginable scale, check. People living underground to escape the machines of death, check. Envrionmental annihilation, check.

And the ending of the novel - slain, after all man’s devices had failed, by the humblest things that God, in his wisdom, has put upon this earth - doesn’t refer to bacteria, but rather the sheer arrogance of the American military in thinking the Vietnamese were weak and pathetic and easily conquered. Check mothafucking check.

So fuck Platoon, and Full Metal Jacket, and Apocalypse Now, and even Good Morning Vietnam. 

What we need is a War of the Worlds Vietnam movie.

August 2017

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