Below is a link to an interesting article about this year’s Veteran’s Day censorship of Saving Private Ryan. You may not be aware that there were TV stations across the country that refused to show Saving Private Ryan (Tom Hanks) on Vet’s Day due to its offensive content.
This story reminds me of the photos of the US flag-covered coffins returning from the Mid-East that were also banned from public eye. I am against this war and always have been, but I understand that to make a strong effort you have to consolidate and hit hard. In battle, it is not a good idea to fracture and speculate and as a Vet that’s my unflinching position. Overwhelming force is not a divided force.
If this were a kinder, gentler world, I could protest the war and it would end and we’d all be at peace doing volunteer service for one another. Everyone would be learning a second, third, or fourth language and traveling outside their country as part of mandatory exchange educational and career development programs. We’d take a more proactive approach to the violence born by ignorance; we’d take the time to learn about each other. We’d simply do that. If we didn’t have time, we’d make time and make it a priority. Just a year or 2 of our lives: traveling to, learning, and working overseas.
But this world has war, and war is about killing people and breaking things. America is at war. Nobody travels anywhere if they don’t have to. It is ugly and offensive and it is true. I was in Gulf One, and although I was at sea and not exposed to the dangers of our ground troops, I was there to help kill people and break things, and I live with this. We are losing men over in Afghanistan and Iraq, and they are getting shot up and cut up. They are dieing and are returning in flag-covered caskets. Maybe that’s offensive to some, but as a Vet, I’ll be darned if I sit down and watch my country pretend it’s above knowing what I did and what other, much more brave men and women do every day. Brutal and offensive? Hell yeah. Welcome to planet Earth. Welcome to war.
Maybe we’re afraid to see what war is about because we don’t really want to know how bad some of us have it right now. To a lesser extent, like a friend of mine who won’t go to a slaughterhouse because she doesn’t like thinking about where her hamburgers come from. She just wants it on her plate, neatly in front of her, in its brightly-colored packaging. Don’t tell me what’s really going on. Just keep me in the dark and I’m happy. Afterall, ignorance is bliss.
But ignorance is bliss to none but the ignorant, and an ignorant public is not the goal of a free society. For the guys fighting now, things are real bad, and maybe exposing ourselves to the disturbing and offensive truth of how bad it can get will prevent it from happening again. If the public doesn’t know how bad those fighters have it, then the public may not even know enough to decide for themselves if it must cease and desist immediately. Hence, a possible argument for censorship of Private Ryan: showing the film will help to fracture and cause speculation among the civilian populations that are badly needed for their consolidated support of the war.
Another possible argument for censorship would be that it was done out of respect and consideration to those who have lost someone in the war, but does that make sense, when anyone can change the channel? War pictures have been made during many wars, but maybe Saving Ryan is especially graphic and realistic. Should movies only glorify war and the acts of the troops it serves? It has been done often in the past, and it would be easier to consolidate public opinion that way and would help sustain a sense of nobility of dieing in war. Americans’ love of reality TV is a conditional love. Reality must be comfortable. We are, after all, about 5% of the world’s population that consumes about 25% of the world’s energy supply. Comfort is a cultural norm. Sometimes its easier to be unaware or uninformed. Sometimes we’re just more comfortable that way.
Lastly, the article’s author has one view, albeit compelling, it is only one view of an undoubtedly complex issue. It’s from the NYTimes and they have a reputation as being liberal (NY was a Blue state). This does not ignore the compelling argument given by the author, nor is it fair to the author (he writes in the “ARTS” section). Personally, I did not want to spin this email in favor of either political side, since I belong to neither, nor do I make my opinion clear on the so-called “censorship”.
http://www.nytimes.com/2004/11/21/arts/21rich.html?pagewanted=1&th to log on, you may use these:
Live free or die,
p.s. If you want to read another Times article about one man’s account of the war as he followed Bravo Company of the First Battalion, Eighth Marines, read http://www.nytimes.com/2004/11/21/international/middleeast/21battle.html?th
This article probably isn’t for people who prefer The Real Gilligan’s Island. The article talks about people getting shot in the face. Our people.