1. Names. IMPORTANT SCHEDULE CORRECTION: No group responding for Th., but A for 2/11, B 2/13, C 2/18, D, 2/20. I sent an email; Chris’s and Kelly’s bounced.
Topic statements due Thursday. One more day on Missing Peace; Color Purple is next.
Pass sheet around: everybody: let me know what you’re planning.
Today, our subject is
Start with some general feedback on Platoon. What did you think? It’s very close to the ground, very much about the experience of combat there. I want to also step back and talk about wider issues, but let’s start with the close in ones.
What are the realities of war, here? No fixed battle lines, night missions out into jungle, villages where it’s not at all clear who’s on which side, the near-massacre that results, ambushes and booby traps, tunnel complexes.
The soldiers: mostly young, heavily skewed towards poor and people of color. Drugs and alcohol. Division between “heads” and drinkers. Ineffectual lieutenant. Rotations by individual, rather than units that stay intact—everybody counting down his own time left in country. At odds with each other as well as with the enemy.
The two sergeants: Barnes and Elias. What do they represent for Taylor, the narrator and central character? His two fathers, he says. The difference in how they fight: both are capable soldiers, but Elias has a sense of honor and discretion while Barnes is just a killer. Barnes as Ahab, bent on revenge (complete with scar). Elias as Christ figure, raising his arms in the clearing with the ruined church in the background.
The last battle, chaos and confusion, finally the officer calls in air strikes on his own position. An ironic variation on one of the most famous lines of the war: “We had to destroy the village in order to save it.”
We might, of course, ask whether these are the only two options. Certainly this isn’t the “whole story” of the way. But it’s a part of the story that I think rings true.
This summary of the TV series provides a useful overview of the history of
My Notes from 2000:
background: A kind of progression from WW II, the “Good War,” with a clear
enemy, a clear sense that fundamental
were a variety of rationales given for the war. Perhaps most important
now is the realization that unlike WW I or II there was no single, clear entry
point, no starting date. Less than 1000 advisers under
Eisenhower, up to 15,000 by 1963. The
was the “domino theory”: that if one country in the region fell to Communism,
others would follow. There were the “strategic location” and “valuable
minerals” theories, though we seem to have survived the years since
http://www.wwnorton.com/college/history/tindall/workbknf/tinprs34a.htm Johnson’s speech on
“But there is more to it than that. For our generation has a dream. It is a very old dream. But we have the power and now we have the opportunity to make it come true.
For centuries, nations have struggled among each other. But we dream of a world where disputes are settled by law and reason. And we will try to make it so.
For centuries, nations have struggled among each other. But we dream of a world where disputes are settled by law and reason. And we will try to make it so.
For most of history men have hated and killed one another in battle. But we dream of an end to war. And we will try to make it so.
For all existence most men have lived in poverty, threatened by hunger. But we dream of a world where all are fed and charged with hope. And we will help make it so.
The ordinary men and women of
Every night before I turn out the lights to sleep, I ask myself this question: Have I done everything that I can do to unite this country? Have I done everything that I can do to unite this country? Have I done everything I can to help unite the world, to try to bring peace and hope to all the peoples of the world? Have I done enough?
Ask yourselves that question in your homes and in this hall tonight. Have we done all we could? Have we done enough? . . . . “
The idealism of the early years of the war. Caputo
(102) writes knowingly, if somewhat bitterly, about his own entrance into the
war, his fascination with the idea of war and the excitement that it
promised. At the start of the 60’s, with Kennedy
idealism in the air, the idea of fighting bravely (and inevitably victoriously)
for freedom was widespread. As a nation we were closer to WW II in
1965 than we are to
In Philip Caputo’s memoir A Rumor of War he writes of how that idealism and excitement were driven out of him by the reality of Vietnam combat, where the clarity and chivalry of his generation’s vision of combat--largely a romanticized version of the WW II experience of their fathers--crashed and burned. Heat, rain, jungles, a slippery and persistent enemy, boredom and fear and sudden bursts of terror. A slow war of attrition, in which “body counts” became the official measure of how we were doing.
Official pronouncements were optimistic for years; surely, it seemed, with so many men and such overwhelming firepower we would crush the Viet Cong guerillas and North Vietnamese. But the war on the ground was always difficult; jungle terrain, hit-and-run tactics, no clear front lines, no clear enemy, very difficult to achieve clear results. The problem, always, is fighting the last war rather than the current one.
In 1967, determined to muster public support for the war that had been drifting away, LBJ demanded good news. “Body counts” and kill ratios went higher and higher, and Gen. Westmoreland claimed that the end was in view, the famous light at the end of the tunnel. Approval ratings did go up, sharply; sometimes lies work, for a while. During this time, though, television news coverage brought images of the war into everybody’s living room--images of confused struggles in jungles, men ducking and firing blindly, scurrying around, tending to each others’ wounds.
161: spring 67 mainstream protests on campus, increasing perplexity about war even within administration. McNamara’s questions that became “Pentagon Papers.” Bad options, 162-3: escalate, keep stable stalemate, or demobilize.
“In 1957 a sensitive American official overseas said that it
seemed to him that our nation was on the wrong side of a world revolution.
During the past ten years we have seen emerge a pattern of suppression
which now has justified the presence of U.S. military "advisors" in
Venezuela. This need to maintain social stability for our investments accounts
for the counter-revolutionary action of American forces in
Increasingly, by choice or by accident, this is the role our nation has taken -- the role of those who make peaceful revolution impossible by refusing to give up the privileges and the pleasures that come from the immense profits of overseas investment.
I am convinced that if we are to get on the right side of the world revolution, we as a nation must undergo a radical revolution of values. We must rapidly begin the shift from a "thing-oriented" society to a "person-oriented" society. When machines and computers, profit motives and property rights are considered more important than people, the giant triplets of racism, materialism, and militarism are incapable of being conquered.”
Another fascinating what-if question here: what if we had taken the side of Ho Chi Minh and the Vietnamese nationalists in the fifties, stood with a revolutionary movement that was trying to throw off a colonial power as American colonists had done in 1776?
in Jan. 1968, just as the presidential primaries were about to begin, came the Tet offensive, with bitter fighting in
the spring of 1968 the unpopularity of the war and the surprising strength of
antiwar candidate Eugene McCarthy in the primaries forced LBJ to announce he
wouldn’t run again for president. (I read recently, somewhere, that by then he
knew the war could not be won.) That left McCarthy, RFK, and HH as the main
contenders; both McCarthy and RFK were antiwar, RFK less so, but a good
campaigner whose success in
The war, and popular opposition to it, raised questions that Americans are still trying to answer. Some are symbolized in slogans: “Love it or leave it,” “change it or lose it.” It divided the country in ways we’re still trying to recover from. It deflected huge sums of money and public attention from other causes, and made it harder to unite people toward reaching other goals. It helped to create suspicion and cynicism about politics and politicians . . .
are more abstract and troubling:
LBJ’s and MLK’s versions of the war and reasons for being for it and against it: it’s hard to believe they’re talking about the same situation, hmm? Though they both invoke the Bible, and other powerful archetypes.
My Platoon running notes
I don’t think I can take this, grandma.
Sergeant who runs things, lt. who doesn’t, good corporal and bad corporal.
Going out on ambush, with the new meat, the cherries.
Dead end guys, poor and unwanted, fighting for our society and freedom. They call themselves grunts. They’re the best I’ve ever seen grandma, the heart and soul.
Maybe I can start over from here, not fake it.
Lizard crawling up statue, bugs wake him, watch guy is asleep. What’s out there in the fog, in the jungle? Guys with weeds on helmets.
sounds. Fire fight, suddenly. Wounded
Back at base, King and Taylor get put on latrine duty by the nasty O’Neill.
you get here anyway? I volunteered, says
You got to be rich in the first place to think like that.
King introduces him to the heads. This here’s Chris, he been resurrected. He smokes the long pipe, while White Rabbit plays.
Dafoe: the worm has definitely turned for you, man.
“We don’t smoke marijuana in
Bunny: the gooks put chemicals in that shit, so we won’t fight, become pacifists. The clean cut lieut. comes in, looking to mingle. O’Neill sucks up to him, then “there’s one sorry ass mf.” He’s not going to make it.
Meanwhile the heads are getting happy underground. Tears of a Clown. Manly love of comrades. Singing along.
New Years Day 68.
Dafoe/Elias gets out. Berenger mad about guys wounded. They move out. Lt. says to leave four there with medic. Manny’s dead by the stream.
Barnes was the eye of our rage, our Capt. Ahab. We’d set things right through him. Into the village they go.
up villagers, shoot pig, find people hiding underground, girls and women. They
scream and cry, grenade in hole, man down in hut. They find weapons, extra
Talking to guy—waste him, then see who talks. He says NVA made them store stuff, they’re just farmers. Noisy woman, Berenger shoots her.
Just as Barnes is threatening little girl Elias comes in, stops him. Fight in dirt, men yelling.
LT. finally stops them. Torch this place, he says. Elias—to lieut, why didn’t you do something? Lt says he doesn’t know what the fuck he’s talking about.
Huts burning, Barber Adagio for Strings.
CT stops guys raping girl. She’s a fucking human being, man, you’re fucking animals. You a homosexual, man?
They move out with prisoners, fire behind them. Explosions.
Officer tells Barnes and Elias to cease fire. Back into bunker complex tomorrow.
Black guys talking. Barnes knows what he’s doing. Other guy: a Christian wouldn’t be going around cutting heads off.
Bunny and O’Neill sucking up to Barnes. Somebody ought to frag Elias.
CT and Elias. “I love this place at night. No right or wrong in the stars.” Elias: ”I believed in 65, now no. We’re going to lose this war.” “It’s time we got ours kicked.”
CT voice over: struggle to maintain both strength and sanity. Civil war in platoon, half with each guy.
shoots a bunch of gooks, Elias gets some too, they run
toward each other. Barnes shoots him.
Evac. wounded. Guys look bad. Bodies under tarps, helicopter wind blows cover off.
Elias being chased by whole mob of NVA. He raises hands as
chopper goes over, collapses.
If there’s a heaven Elias is in it, drunk as a monkey and smoking shit.
Barnes been shot seven times. He ain’t meant to die. Only thing that can kill Barnes is Barnes. And there he is, whisky in hand, “Talking about killing? Smokng this shit to escape from reality? Me, I don’t need this shit. I am reality. There’s the way it ought to be, and there’s the way it is. Elias was a crusader. I got no fight with any man do what he’s told, but when he don’t the machine breaks down. And I ain’t gonna allow that. You all loved Elias. You want to kick ass. Well here I am all by my lonesome. Nobody gonna know. Six of you boys against me. Kill me.”
“I shit on all of you.”
CT bangs head into post. Barnes has knife. Don’t do it, says guy with mustache. B: ”Death? What do you all know about death?”
Back into the valley the next day, returning to scene of crime.
Two thousand meters from
Alpha company the bait to lure out the whole 141st NVA regiment.
Moocher gets Elias’s squad. Ramouchey? Lt. brushes off his complaints. He doesn’t give a flying f. any more.
CT with King. Ten and a wakeup. CT complains, people like Elias get wasted, people like Barnes go on making up the rules any way they want. We don’t matter.
King: who ever said we did? O’Neill comes by saying that his orders have arrived. Ten minutes to go.
Martin has bad feet, says he can’t walk. Barnes threatens him with courtmartial, then centipede.
O’Neill wants to get out, says he has a bad feeling. Everybody gotta die sometime, Red, says Barnes.
King on the chopper. It blows up. No? No.
Bunny with shotgun. Sometimes he gets a bad feeling. He likes it here, you get to do what you want, nobody fucks with you.
Officer asks for grid. Radio guy panicking. Then no reply. Then Vietnamese.
Zips in the wire down here. The captain calls down fire on his own position. Barnes ready to kill CT when the air strikes hit. Major explosions, then all goes black.
Morning, and all’s quiet, birds and insects. CT sees deer, hears chopper. Picks up a gun. Bodies all over. There’s Barnes, crawling. “Get me a medic. Go on, boy.” “Do it.” And he does.
Here come the marines, heavy vehicle. most everybody dead.
Black guy stabs himself. O’Neill crawls out. Guys cutting off ears, etc.
500 VC KIA, 22
Guy with club hits himself on chest with gun and roars. CT gestures back, then looks out from chopper at guys in dust below. Crater with bodies everywhere.
CT: “I think now we didn’t fight the enemy. We fought ourselves, and the enemy was in us. The war was over for me now, but it’ll always be within me, as Elias was, fighting with Barnes for my soul. My two fathers . . . Those of us left have an obligation to start over, build again, find a goodness and meaning in this life.”
The movie platoon was very good. I found it to be very
interesting. For one, I get into movies like that and, secondly I found it to
be very realistic. I thought that is showed how awful war really is and it
showed the public that these are the type of things that went on in
Yesterday evening I watched Platoon, and I must say that it was a very hard movie to watch. So many things were just so awful – the hate that those men felt and what their actions were in response to the hate. I think that war is evil just because it is killing your enemies, but it was awful to see that people were killing even those that were on their side. That hate was not just between nations, it was within each individual. Some of the scenes were very difficult to watch, such as near the beginning at the first village they go to and destroy. I cannot understand how a human could commit these horrific acts against the innocent people. It is sad to think that they become numb to taking people’s lives and destroying families. I thought the last thought of the main character was significant, but I cannot exactly remember what it was. I think it was something related to the fact that war is evil, and he learned that after being there and experiencing it.
online at some websites, and one that stood out to me was Bush’s response to
There were two specific
scenes that stick out in my mind after watching the movie Platoon. The first scene is when the soldiers move
into the village of the
The article that I read was about the Miller Lite beer “catfight” commercial that we talked about in class. This commercial is bringing up controversy among different people some that feel that the ads are just made to be funny and others that do not feel they are funny at all. One of the ladies said that the ad just reinforces the attitudes that keep women from achieving equal treatment in pay and career opportunities. There are three main problems with the ad that people have complained about which include: it’s inappropriate for children, degrading to women, and the one version that end ’s with the women saying “let’s make-out” which encourages lesbianism. Some people feel that it is just a stereotypical way to look at men. At the end of the article it talks about how sex sells and it works in marketing. Basically it is saying money is what matters and who cares if 30 percent of the viewers are children and they are ran during sporting events and prime time. This is a sad reality that brings us back to how women are perceived in our culture. Should commercials like this be allowed on TV?? http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,77341,00.html
In past class meetings we have openly discussed the different beer commercials that are now playing on television. A popular commercial is the Miller Light commercial. Miller company spokeswomen Molly Reilly said that the "catfight" that you see turns out to be a fantasy ad imagined by two guys, and it is supposed to represent what men are thinking about. The brewing company has received approx. 4,000 emails and phone calls divided fairly evenly in opinion about the commercials. In the article it said that generating feedback, positive or negative, is what most companies dream of. If your getting feedback then you must be doing something right. As far as using the techniques that both Coors and Miller are using, Hillary Chura said "using sex as a marketing technique that has been used since God was a child, and if it didn't work, marketers wouldn't keep using it." So why the switch from past commercials? The old target market used to be women and older males, but since the older generations do not drink as much as the twenty something males so they are now running commercials that appeal to the new age range. A post from Realbeer.com said "these commercials are selling beer to men. What's the quickest way to get a mans attention...T and A!!!" I think that is what the beer companies are doing, they are using what drives men to buy things. If you want to say sex sells, then sex sells.
The movie platoon really showed a vision of the Vietnam War that I and I’m
sure others wouldn’t even think of. The thought that these soldiers were not
only fighting against their enemy (Viet Cong), but also among themselves,
was an issue that was a result from lack of leadership in this case, as well
as some radicals, who I feel in a way got power hungry and or nuts in their
The scenes in this movie were chilling and at times I felt like I was hidden
in the bush with them just waiting for the enemy to come over that hill and
introduce me to death. The thoughts going through these men’s heads at this
time must have been dramatic and emotional, all tied up into one big ball of
The Vietnam War touches close to me because my father served in the war as a
Navy Seabee. He went ahead of all the troops (usually into lands where no
soldiers had been before), and built hospitals and other buildings needed
for the war effort. Like Chris in the movie, my father volunteered, due to
the fact that he would have been drafted anyway, and at least if he went in
then he could have some say in what he did. He lived with and among the
he even made it home.
Growing up, we were never able to watch war movies or get into great
detailed discussions about
such things would give him nightmares and once while at the movie theater
watching Good Morning Vietnam, he YELLED, “it’s gonna blow”, causing terror
in the theater for one, as well as family embarrassment (he he), because in
the scene (which was quite accurate might I add), a bomb was hidden in a way
that he has seen and it was like
he actually was there in
has scars on his face that he can’t tell you about how he got them because
of the memories that would be awakened. There is so much I have learned from
him about this and so many stories he has told me, as well as the pictures
and different items…like a pair of rubber tire boots a villager made for my
dad because of his gentleness with the man’s family. My father cared for the
Vietnamese people as well as his own men, his experiences were a lot
different from the killing fields and I’m glad that over the years he has
been able to tell more, his stories give a different perspective to the war.
Watching the Fragments Fall by JAMES DAVIS This article was in a way a bit
distasteful in regards to the
tragedy. Mr. Davis give his account play-by-play how the media covered the
tragic event, and in a way made a mockery of it.
I was watching this as it unfolded on Saturday and I think Mr. Davis was
right in a few of his accusations… such as Buzz Aldren trying to endorse his
company…etc. But all in all I think it was handled in the best way possible.
They had to be gentle and stay with the story (taking up the regularly
scheduled broadcasts) because some of the crazy Americans here might have
tried shooting people or who knows what thinking that the crash was due to a
terrorist attack. Just my own personal thought!
I found the above article quite interesting. I have to say that I agree with President Bush that we need to do what we can to get vaccinations ready for any possible situation that could ensue. I feel that this is a necessary precaution. Joe Lieberman, however, feels differently. He feels that Project BioShield "falls short of what's needed". I don't know what else could be done other than to get vaccines ready for the American people. Bioterrorism is a real danger in the world we live in today.
As for the movie, Platoon,
it made me quite angry. I usually like war movies...but I realize that
all those that I have seen show
After watching this movie it gave me mixed feelings on how war is even just able. When the young men went to the “Bush” as they called it the Sergeants and other people that have been there for months did not give the respect as you think that soldiers would. Most of the men did not want to establish any type of acquaintance or even a friendship, because they did not know if they would even be their the next day. The corruptness and hatred of the soldiers brought on inhuman acts that brought controversy to the unit and brought out many red flags on how ethical people really were. The part in the movie where they killed a couple of the villagers for no reason showed that war is awful in ways no one can explain. The dialogue that Charlie Sheen was saying were he felt that they were not fighting the enemy but that they were fighting each other. People that were involved with the Vietnam War never really understood why we were fighting so really the never cared and just wanted to go home. The movie shows how stress, conflicts, and hatred towards people are the effects of war.
Even though I was not around when
this war was going on but from what some of my friends dads that fought in
Web site http://www.vwip.org/vwiphome.html
I wasn’t sure if I was going to enjoy watching this movie when it was first
assigned, but once I actually sat down to watch it I decided it wasn’t that
bad. I was surprised at how much it showed, especially for the time period
in which it was made because most movies in that time period were not that
graphic. After I finished watching the movie I had mixed feelings about how
it represented the soldiers of that time and how they all acted. I felt
that for the most part, the only type of soldiers that were represented were
the gung-ho fighters who were overly violent and who actually enjoyed
harming the Vietnamese people and ruining their villages. I do understand
that those types of things did happen, and I’m not nieve enough to think
that there were some people there who didn’t enjoy what they were doing or
going out of there way to harm others. I do know though that not all people
who were involved in the
harming the innocent village people and not everyone wanted to kill innocent
women and children and ruin their homes. Charlie Sheen’s character was one
of the only person who was portrayed with any kind of morals or feelings for
human kind, and he spent so much of his time in the movie getting high
(which I’m sure was a favorite past time for most people there) that he
avoided reality as much as possible.
I did however think that it was very interesting how the inner conflicts between the people in the platoon. I think that it showed how much tension was there between the individuals and how those kinds of conditions can effect people after being exposed to them for long periods of time. I was really surprised when the first commanding officer killed Willem Dafoe’s
character, or at least thought he did. Then towards the end when we found
out that he wasn’t really dead at all, but was killed trying to reach the
plane, I found myself sort of depressed that there was one last good guy
represented in the movie.