Monday, December 12, 2005

Team America: uuuhhh

I am uncertain about my feelings concerning this movie. It was undoubtedly funny, but it made me uncomfortable, being the way I am, to see the gratuituous sex scenes. It stands though, that I like the message in the end - we take stuff too seriously. Left wing, right wing, moderate...we are all geeks, all open to be made fun of. No one is safe because we cannot say one side is right or wrong, we are all just...opinionated.

I think Trey and Matt were both trying to prove the point that everyone should be made fun of and to show, in no uncertain terms, the corruption of the horrors of war in our country. I am sure they did it with a great sense of humor, but this film, a love/war/action story told by PUPPETS made money in the box office. It shows deliberately and completely that America will buy into anything that has to do with war, we want it, crave it, need it and thrive on it. This film makes fun of every aspect of US's culture, from "Lease" on Broadway, with a graphic song about AIDS, to Times Square ads, the Derek Zoolander-esque lead male, the tragic love stories, the raunchy sex scene, the swearing, the over-zealous country songs promoting American domination. And yet, we saw it. We laughed. And Trey and Matt laughed all the way to the bank. The American public proved once and for all that no matter how bad it gets, we are obsessed with war and ourselves in it.

Despite my reservations and the shock on my roomates' faces when they realized what I was watching, I did really enjoy this. It gave me a good laugh and a much needed break from the serious subject matter of our previous films. This movie still leaves you with much to talk about and much to ponder, but you must also walk away remembering not to take us, and everything about us, too seriously.

HAHAHAHHAHAHAHHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA HAHAHAHAHA HAHAHAHAHAHA HAHAHAHAHAHAHA HAHAHAHAHAHA HAHAHAHAHAHAHA AHAHAHAHAHAHAHA! (me, not taking things too seriously.)

Friday, December 09, 2005

A Must See.

http://nobelprize.org/literature/laureates/2005/pinter-lecture-e.html

Here is a link to the speech that apparently isn't making headlines. It is the transcripted version of the video taped speech given by Harold Pinter on accepting the Nobel Prize for Literature. The political comments will stand out the most, but the artisit ones are good as well. I post it here for the relevence it has to the subject of our course. A definate must read/see. Enjoy.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Puppets in love.

Team America, World Police, and doesn’t that pretty much say it all. Clearly the filmmakers have a negative image of America as world police, or at least a strong appreciation for the ironies of the issues involved. By juxtaposing verbal information with contradictory visual information the filmmakers make a clear yet unthreatening statement about American foreign policy and action. For instance in the opening sequence Team America moves to stop terrorists, verbally we hear the Americans making statements, congruent with those of current policy makers, of their mission, that the foreigners have nothing to fear, that they are there to stop and prevent violence and create safety, and so forth. Meanwhile visually we see their actions cause wide spread unnecessary destruction and death. This contradiction is never really noted directly, only its unspoken presence in contrast to direct statements is provided to viewers. This way, it is the viewer’s interpretation of the movie, rather than the film itself, which develops a political position. Meanwhile the movie continues in its satire of many issues, not only those of American foreign policy (although that is a central theme) but it also broadly uses clichés and cultural conventions as entertainment and quick easy communication.
The story line itself, the lost love in the beginning, finding a new love, the love triangle, all very cheesy classical story lines, which is entierly befitting the needs and message of this film.

I agree with Aaron’s statements that celebrities have just as much right to voice their political opinions as any other citizen. I am not, however, surprised to see the issue parodied in this film which parodies so much. All in all the film succeeds in being funny, but for me it is not the kind of movie I’d want to see more than once. Honestly, if it weren’t for this course, I probably wouldn’t have seen it the first time, but, surprisingly, I don’t watch too many movies.

On another note, I think this film must have set some sort of record for oral sex references. From the landing strip in the president’s mouth to the use of oral sex as a proof of loyalty, I’m sure they did SNL members, and other such comedians, proud in their creative and flexible use of the oral sex metaphor.

In another side note, since there isn’t really a reading this particular week to discuss this film in light of, I would like to say something about German POW’s from WWII. On the history channel, (they love their WWII specials) There was a program recently (and probably replayed repeatedly) about the experience of German POW’s kept on American soil. In contrast to our current political controversies and embarrassments over the treatment of current POW’s and other prisoners, the POW’s then were treated exceedingly well. Geneva Conventions were followed very strictly and all the German POW’s were treated with the same standards as our troops. This meant, controversially, that they were not subjected to the same food rationing as American citizens (all this information is according to this documentary and has not been cross referenced by the way). Therefore they were feed better than most citizens of the time and recounted experiences of burning food, the excesses being more than they could consume, so that they would continue to receive generous proportions. Also they had available recreation (playing soccer, ect.)To get to the point, in interviews many former German POW’s talked about how the good treatment they received surprised them, they recounted being stuck in transit to a prison in one instance, and feared violence from the locals only to be greeted with gifts of food and people telling them “welcome to America”. This kindness and generosity directly contradicted the image of America they had received from Hitler propaganda. This aided greatly in teaching POW’s messages other than those of Nazism. Although this was not the intention of the military, who stated the favorable treatment was given to hopefully insure equally good treatment of American POW’s, it was very successful in changing the minds of prisoners. Today in the ‘war on terror’ the minds of individuals are the sole battleground. In this film we see that represented as a great focus is placed on processes of propaganda, for instance how the celebs were victims of propaganda and therefore a tool of propaganda, in believing Kim Jong and acting for his behalf. It makes we wonder though what some positive action, not merely propaganda, could do. If we treated prisoners very well, despite the controversies that would subsequently arise, would it help to create a more positive image of America, not just in the minds of prisoners (guilty and innocent alike), but also in the minds of foreign nations and their peoples? Just a thought.

Team America: Political Reality Check

From none other than the minds that brought us Orgazmo, Baseketball, South Park, and even this strange cartoon from the net comes a satire with it's sights set on our very own political landscape. I found Team America: World Police to be a very intelligently written satire, while still being able to wallow in the low brow comedy that 90% of people secretly enjoy. The film does whatever it can to lampoon everything dealing with the cluster fuck that was the elections of 2004, yet not once actually mentioning the two figureheads at the helm, George W. Bush and John Kerry. In doing this, it seems that Stone and Parker were able to dodge the cannonball that would've been the conservative/liberal finger pointing and name calling that marks any item leaning towards one party or the other.

Stone and Parker also make sure to make it very well known again with this film their despise of actors in general, first by using puppets, then secondly by straight out making fun of actor's efforts to make their opinions known using the fictitious "Film Actor's Guild". I truly enjoyed all portions of the movie devoted to this subject, as I am reminded by Sean Penn's recent attempt to save stranded people in New Orleans. Sean Penn set out in a small boat, while being accompanied by around 6 or 7 more people taking pictures and doing other media-friendly tasks. At one point those he was trying to save asked him how he expected to even fit anyone else into the boat with him.

I do believe Matt and Trey are trying to make a statement with the film, to say they aren't is irresponsible and unreasonable. Anything put into writing is a manifestation of someone's personal beliefs, and Team America is no exception.

Matt and Trey have been consistent in making a point using irreverent humor from the very first episode of South Park to the last, and with this film I believe they just want to give a refreshing look at the circus that politics has become. Howard Stern once said on his show that, "...the problem with politics today is 'professional politicians'. In the first years of the country, presidents had other jobs alongside their presidiential seat, and this gave them an identity with the common man." In today's world, everyone wishes to get things done to their liking, without thinking of the common man. Matt and Trey do their best to represent the reactions of the common man, by ridiculing those that try to stay at the top from the bottom of the humor barrel.

Actors put themselves forward to further their name, and in turn, the more an actor's name is in the mainstream, the more he/she and their films benefit. Kim Jong-Il does the same, trying to further himself above others. And while they say they are fighting for freedom, Team America does the same, fighting for what they believe is right with means they deem necessary. Rarely does Team America let the opinions of others phase them in their plans, whether it be killing terrorists, blowing up France, or destroying the Sphynx, they only acknowledge the success of the end result, and ignore what went wrong. "Win by any means necessary" seems to be the dominant paradigm in all the main characters' beliefs. By taking this one-sided approach to problem solving, the end result becomes something of an imbalanced success, a world that the leaders can live with, but the common man finds trying and difficult to stand with.

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Terrorize This- Sarah Mokhiber

911 x 2356= 2146316

Team America World Police is such a great movie. This movie pokes fun of every political view, major film makers, and even other countries. Look at the title of the movie, Team America: World Police. This definitely sounds like America, the big brother to the world, whether people want us to be or not. The opening scene of this movie is in Paris, France. On the bottom of the screen, it says how many miles east of the US France is, this really plays into American ethnocentrism. Then this little boy running around in a sailor outfit sees a terrorist with a weapon of mass destruction. Then out of no where, Team America flies in to “save the day”. Once the terrorists open fire, Team America proceeds to move in and literally destroy all of France. This part represents the tensions between America and France. Then once they think the terrorists are taken care of, Carson proposes to Lisa. This part is a complete satire of how Jerry Bruckheimer films are trying to convey this political war message, but are usually bogged down with sappy love scenes. In the next scene, they are in Time Square. Like any typical movie, there is a lot of product placement within these shots. There are Coco-cola, Jell-O and Cadillac signs. Then they move into the play “Lease” which is making fun of “Rent” and the song they are singing is “Everyone has AIDS”. Then Spotsworth tells Gary he wants him to join Team America, but Gary things that he wants him to suck him off. I guess this is what happens in Hollywood today. Once back at the base, Gary meets everyone on the Team, Joe who is the All American. Then there is Sarah who is clairvoyant. Then there is Lisa and Chris. Then Gary learns about Intelligence, the world’s smartest computer. After Gary decides to leave, he takes a detour to the Capital. During this scene this country song starts playing. It talks about how freedom isn’t free, and how it costs a buck five. One of my favorite parts is when they valmorphorize Gary to look like a terrorist. He has colored cotton balls on his face, with his big blue American eyes. Once the team is in Cairo, they destroy the entire city trying to kill the terrorist. After this, the terrorists launch an attack on the Panama Canal, killing thousands of people. Then enters the Film Actors Guild (F.A.G.). All of the actors that make up F.A.G are known Hollywood actors to be against the war, they hate Team America because they would rather use peaceful means to stop the terrorists instead of brute force like Team America uses. Just thinking about this movie makes me laugh. Then in the scene when Hans Blix can’t look at parts of Kim Jong Il’s castle, he says the U.N. would write him a really mean letter telling him how pissed off they were. This shows how the U.N. really has no power to police the world. After the Cairo incident, the team thinks that they have really stopped the terrorists and go back to the cave and party; this shows how America jumps to conclusions and underestimates their opponent. America is constantly relying on “intelligence” to determine what do to next in a war situation. I have to say, I love the Michael Moore puppet. I also really like the songs, they really do make fun every country song out there about the war, and they also exemplify American ideals and ways about handling terrorists. I think that through out this entire movie, each message that they are trying to convey is canceled out by another contradicting message. Then Kim Jong Il tells Team America that his plan will work because he has F.A.G. on his side. Once Gary realizes what happens, he goes back to the base to try and save everyone. Gary sees that the base has been blown to pieces. Then Gary finds out what the other way is to save America, he has to blow Spotsworth. I guess Hollywood really is like that. Then there is the montage. The montage songs is great, because at some point in every movie, the main character will have a montage, and this explains why they are the way they are. Then when the F.A.G. joins Kim Jong Il for the Peace Conference, they have no idea that this is time when the terrorists will be using their weapons of mass destruction. I love Kim Jong Il in this movie, he has pictures of himself all over his palace, every song is about him, he is just over all a funny guy. “I’m so wronrely”. Also, I think it is funny how Team America saves the world with Gary’s acting. When did acting ever save the world? Oh yeah I forgot it saved the world in the last Jerry Bruckheimer film. Then the almighty peaceful F.A.G. uses force to keep Team America away. It seems like Hollywood doesn’t have a thought of its own. Wow this movie is great, I loved Chris’s story about why he doesn’t like actors. The play Cats, then Sarah and Joe are being attacked by little ol’ black house cats. What a vicious animal. I think this movie is so great because it is done with puppets, I mean you can only take a puppet so seriously, even when you can see the strings. I don’t think that they would have been able to pull off this movie without using puppets. I know that Matt Stone and Trey Parkers are geniuses. This movie is by far their best. I like it because unlike South Park, it doesn’t convey a clear cut message, but it does still manage to make fun of everybody and their views. Then there is the dick, asshole, and pussy speech. Although this speech is really funny it doesn’t have a point. Everyone is either a dick, a pussy, or an asshole, and if you don’t take care of the assholes, then everyone will be covered in shit. Somehow though at the end of the movie, Kim Jong Il slips away. He is a cockroach that seems to always get away. Over time, it seems like the cockroach always makes it, and so do terrorists. Overall this movie is great; no matter you think or believe this movie can at least make you laugh. And as always with every other Jerry Bruckheimer the movie has to end with a love scene. This movie is awesome, FUCK YEAH!

Terrorize This -Sarah Mokhiber

911 x 2356= 2146316

Team America World Police is such a great movie. This movie pokes fun of every political view, major film makers, and even other countries. Look at the title of the movie, Team America: World Police. This definitely sounds like America, the big brother to the world, whether people want us to be or not. The opening scene of this movie is in Paris, France. On the bottom of the screen, it says how many miles east of the US France is, this really plays into American ethnocentrism. Then this little boy running around in a sailor outfit sees a terrorist with a weapon of mass destruction. Then out of no where, Team America flies in to “save the day”. Once the terrorists open fire, Team America proceeds to move in and literally destroy all of France. This part represents the tensions between America and France. Then once they think the terrorists are taken care of, Carson proposes to Lisa. This part is a complete satire of how Jerry Bruckheimer films are trying to convey this political war message, but are usually bogged down with sappy love scenes. In the next scene, they are in Time Square. Like any typical movie, there is a lot of product placement within these shots. There are Coco-cola, Jell-O and Cadillac signs. Then they move into the play “Lease” which is making fun of “Rent” and the song they are singing is “Everyone has AIDS”. Then Spotsworth tells Gary he wants him to join Team America, but Gary things that he wants him to suck him off. I guess this is what happens in Hollywood today. Once back at the base, Gary meets everyone on the Team, Joe who is the All American. Then there is Sarah who is clairvoyant. Then there is Lisa and Chris. Then Gary learns about Intelligence, the world’s smartest computer. After Gary decides to leave, he takes a detour to the Capital. During this scene this country song starts playing. It talks about how freedom isn’t free, and how it costs a buck five. One of my favorite parts is when they valmorphorize Gary to look like a terrorist. He has colored cotton balls on his face, with his big blue American eyes. Once the team is in Cairo, they destroy the entire city trying to kill the terrorist. After this, the terrorists launch an attack on the Panama Canal, killing thousands of people. Then enters the Film Actors Guild (F.A.G.). All of the actors that make up F.A.G are known Hollywood actors to be against the war, they hate Team America because they would rather use peaceful means to stop the terrorists instead of brute force like Team America uses. Just thinking about this movie makes me laugh. Then in the scene when Hans Blix can’t look at parts of Kim Jong Il’s castle, he says the U.N. would write him a really mean letter telling him how pissed off they were. This shows how the U.N. really has no power to police the world. After the Cairo incident, the team thinks that they have really stopped the terrorists and go back to the cave and party; this shows how America jumps to conclusions and underestimates their opponent. America is constantly relying on “intelligence” to determine what do to next in a war situation. I have to say, I love the Michael Moore puppet. I also really like the songs, they really do make fun every country song out there about the war, and they also exemplify American ideals and ways about handling terrorists. I think that through out this entire movie, each message that they are trying to convey is canceled out by another contradicting message. Then Kim Jong Il tells Team America that his plan will work because he has F.A.G. on his side. Once Gary realizes what happens, he goes back to the base to try and save everyone. Gary sees that the base has been blown to pieces. Then Gary finds out what the other way is to save America, he has to blow Spotsworth. I guess Hollywood really is like that. Then there is the montage. The montage songs is great, because at some point in every movie, the main character will have a montage, and this explains why they are the way they are. Then when the F.A.G. joins Kim Jong Il for the Peace Conference, they have no idea that this is time when the terrorists will be using their weapons of mass destruction. I love Kim Jong Il in this movie, he has pictures of himself all over his palace, every song is about him, he is just over all a funny guy. “I’m so wronrely”. Also, I think it is funny how Team America saves the world with Gary’s acting. When did acting ever save the world? Oh yeah I forgot it saved the world in the last Jerry Bruckheimer film. Then the almighty peaceful F.A.G. uses force to keep Team America away. It seems like Hollywood doesn’t have a thought of its own. Wow this movie is great, I loved Chris’s story about why he doesn’t like actors. The play Cats, then Sarah and Joe are being attacked by little ol’ black house cats. What a vicious animal. I think this movie is so great because it is done with puppets, I mean you can only take a puppet so seriously, even when you can see the strings. I don’t think that they would have been able to pull off this movie without using puppets. I know that Matt Stone and Trey Parkers are geniuses. This movie is by far their best. I like it because unlike South Park, it doesn’t convey a clear cut message, but it does still manage to make fun of everybody and their views. Then there is the dick, asshole, and pussy speech. Although this speech is really funny it doesn’t have a point. Everyone is either a dick, a pussy, or an asshole, and if you don’t take care of the assholes, then everyone will be covered in shit. Somehow though at the end of the movie, Kim Jong Il slips away. He is a cockroach that seems to always get away. Over time, it seems like the cockroach always makes it, and so do terrorists. Overall this movie is great; no matter you think or believe this movie can at least make you laugh. And as always with every other Jerry Bruckheimer the movie has to end with a love scene. This movie is awesome, FUCK YEAH!

Team America World Police

The first thing I noticed about this movie was the blatant exposition of ethnocentrism. This term was drilled into our heads in 10th grade in International Studies class, making sure that we were aware of what other country's views were. Every time they gave a title saying where Team America was going, and then said how far away it was from America, the idea was reinforced in my head. It is good to be aware of what others may think about us as a whole, because our culture just makes us look even more at ourselves, no matter what the problem is - but I also believe that every country does this to an extent it's just not as obvious or as problematic. Also, the speech Gary gave at the end, no matter how absurd it may have sounded, was very wise. He had the right idea, it was just covered in silly terms to make people laugh, which made it even more genius. If anyone seriously gave a speech like that, I think it would be one of the best a politician could ever make. About what kind of agenda, or lack thereof that was discussed in class, I also agree that they are just getting people to realize that it's never one sided, both sides will make mistakes and can be equally dumb just in different ways. Also, it gets people to realize that no one can really be defined by a group, the human opinion is far too complex and detailed to match exactly with certain standards, especially for the whole country to technically only fit under two. It never make sense and it never will, so it's a good thing that this movie brings it to light for people to reflect on.

Team America World Police

The first thing I noticed about this movie was the blatant exposition of ethnocentrism. This term was drilled into our heads in 10th grade in International Studies class, making sure that we were aware of what other country's views were. Every time they gave a title saying where Team America was going, and then said how far away it was from America, the idea was reinforced in my head. It is good to be aware of what others may think about us as a whole, because our culture just makes us look even more at ourselves, no matter what the problem is - but I also believe that every country does this to an extent it's just not as obvious or as problematic. Also, the speech Gary gave at the end, no matter how absurd it may have sounded, was very wise. He had the right idea, it was just covered in silly terms to make people laugh, which made it even more genius. If anyone seriously gave a speech like that, I think it would be one of the best a politician could ever make. About what kind of agenda, or lack thereof that was discussed in class, I also agree that they are just getting people to realize that it's never one sided, both sides will make mistakes and can be equally dumb just in different ways. Also, it gets people to realize that no one can really be defined by a group, the human opinion is far too complex and detailed to match exactly with certain standards, especially for the whole country to technically only fit under two. It never make sense and it never will, so it's a good thing that this movie brings it to light for people to reflect on.

"I sense the professor is reading to much into this movie"

Team America is funny, but I wonder if that is enough. Ultimately this movie seems to have little message despite many messages said throughout. Sure its in some places quite hilarious, but so is a little kid saying “fuck”. Thus this movie in some ways is a failure in any political realm. However I don't really see it as political. One thing that was brought up in class today that I felt was quite a reach was how Carson died. Sure one can make the “Mission accomplished”/people still getting killed in Iraq connection, but that doesn't mean it was there or intended. Perhaps it was, but perhaps not. I see this scene as a means to an end. For the satire of these types of movies there has to be a dead former love and all that gibberish. We needed to see Lisa in that state to put across the artistic aesthetic being made fun of.

This movie seems to have politics despite the lack of trying. In fact politics seemed to be injected more so into the movie according to one interview with Trey and Matt that I casually recall, although I would have to google for it...and fuck that. Furthermore that which gets the biggest skewering, the F.A.G.s seemed to be purely done so, for the most park, sans any malice. In other interviews which i did google, fuck yeah, with the exception of the hammy Michael Moore they expected the other celebrities to “like it”. That seems to sort of distance itself from really saying a kind of “actors are useless” or “they should shut up” message as the intent really doesn't get across in the movie or they don't even see it as offensive or blunt enough to really anger them. George Clooney for example I recall, is friendly with the 2, having voiced the gay dog Sparky for South Park.

It is a joke and not all jokes have actual meanings or messages, some are just easy shots that are told simply to be funny. To illicit laughter. This is a very guy thing. Guys cut each other down all the time, but there really isn't a message to be gained from it. Its just what is done.

This movie is like the bible in a way, or Koran, or some other religious text. One can cherry pick out the parts they like, toss the parts they don't and feel they have the one true message of it. But like the bible Team America itself has contradictions.

No message thus is gotten across or really intended to.

Sure a message could be read into it, but i think that is overthinking a joke. I could say that “this movie is a call for more moderate approach” or that “it took an actor to help Team America to succeed, therefore we must work together” or whatever, but somethings are meant to be taken at pure face value,to deconstruct them when inapplicabile seems wrong somehow.

All the other films had something underlying to deconstruct (except Soldiers Sweetheart which was a chocolate covered baby fart of a movie), but i don't see that here. Its gags and jokes and absurd. Sometimes thats enough.

America Fuck Yeah

Team America: World Police is one of the best pieces of current political and social satire that has come out recently. Its greatest ability is to make fun of both sides of the political spectrums, while not leaning towards either side. It takes a very centered view of our current events and makes them funny as hell. Just the puppet performers alone make what you're watching ridiculous. They can change a scene of walking that would normally be boring and common into a hilarious scene. By calling the Actors F.A.G.s they insult the entire left wing and by calling the U.S. and the world police and having them be horribly stupid they are insulting the right wing. The great thing though is that both cannot not love the movie because they get to see their opposites bashed. "Dicks", "Pussies", and "Assholes" encompass the world. No one is right. The only one that's worse then the other two is the Assholes who shit on everybody. This is a very fair and balanced view point. Everyone is fucked up so shut the hell up about it because it actually works to form a balance seems to be the basic message. I can't say I disagree. And that's probably why I love this movie so much.
All I can say is “team America, F*?! Yeah!” I think this film does an excellent job of addressing the ridiculous issues revolving around the war in Iraq and pop culture in general. The issue that sticks out the most to me is how they address how actor uses their publicity to voice things they think matter. It is so funny how one of the actor of “FAG” makes the comment how they take what they hear someone else say and then say it as if it is their own idea. This is an accurate issue when considering in times of war. Celebrities try to get involved and they have the idea that voice will make a difference. The funny think is that people are so caught up in pop culture that one can create his/her own biases according to what celebrities might say. In addition, the film incorporates many racial slurs. For instance, the way that Gary is transformed into middle eastern. He has the stereotypical hairiness and a towel wrapped around his head. In addition there is the scene where the film creates a parody of “Rent.” In one song, they mention Spaid referring to the aids epidemic in Africa. I think that the analogy with the dick, pussy, and asshole was accurate. The film was clever through its crude humor. Although there are different ideas that the directors try to convey they do an excellent job at relaying them.

team america blog - git 'r done

Team America: World Police succeeds in making fun of just about everyone. In class, we analyzed it mostly as a satire on foreign policy, celebrity opinion, and general American attitude (that word 'innocence' reared its ugly head again), and less as a jab at Bruckheimer-esque productions. But the more I think about it, the more I realize that these aren't necessarily two seperate things anymore. For example, one scene that stood out was when Joe and Chris were chasing the arabs (with Gary) across the desert, and they lose contact with Lisa on the walkie-talkie. Chris says "let's kill these guys, then we'll see what she wants". It typifies the whole shoot first, ask questions later mentality of both Bruckheimer films and current foreign policy. The language was the funniest part of Team America. In the "bar scene" (a blatant nod to Star Wars), even the singers have nothing more to say than "Jihad! Jihad!". Parker and Stone are emphasizing the total lack of respect and understanding given to the Muslim world by the average American.

I could go on and on about this movie... the whole CATS rape discussion scene is priceless, as well as the Susan Sarandon bit, Sean Penn's crazy ass, and everything else. But it doesn't really have anything to do with war, so "lick my butt and suck on my balls", as it were.

Gary Your Our Hero

I can sum up this movie in one word for me....Interesting. I personally didn't find it the funniest thing ever, but I must be honest, I think that because I don't think I really knew what was going on the entire time. There were times when I was confused or really didn't understand the humor. I think if I knew what was going on in the world a little better I would find it more interesting and funnier. What I did like about this movie is that it pretty much made fun of everyother movie we watched this semester. The war hero is a sense in a joke. This movie defiantly showed the viewer that there is so many sides to the story and that not all information that you find on one news network is telling you one hundred percent of what is really going on.
One thing that I did find interesting and what I have noticed a lot in the other movies that we have watched is that we as Americana do not care about the land or the cities that we destroy until a fellow American dies. That is like I said in class, we are the center of the universe and everything else is just in the background. A hundred people could die around us, but if one of our soldiers dies, that is just the end of it...All hell breaks through. We are such a conceded, self centered nation, but in all honesty we do that in totally the wrong way. We spend 200 billion dollars on a damn war when we have starving, homeless, sick Americans in our own country. How can we be so selfish in areas and so not selfish when I believe it really counts. Our country is so messed up but we seem to take on bigger tasks before we deal with our own people. I just think its so confusing...We care somewhat about ourselves...but when is comes down to it we don't???????
As cured as it was...The whole "dicks, pussies, and assholes" analogy is actually right. I think that was my main problem with the film. I by no means is a prude, but my god could they use sex more times when it was so not needed...but as I am saying that couldn't any film?? I guess I am just not used to seeing sex done that way...with puppets no less.
I guess when it comes down to it...I like everything about this movie
but the movie...

Team America

Team America finishes the semester with a satire of most of the war films we saw throughout this class. By poking fun at war hero's and villains it puts things into a perspective that was not attainable until I watched this film. I take most war films seriously for the message that the director tries to relay to his audience about war. However, in Team America you see the folly of your ways. Team America shows just how ridiculously one sided movies and news can be and that to find the truth you must take time and do some independent research.

Two scenes that stood out to me were the Paris scene and the montage of thoughts as, I can't remember who, sang the sappy country song. In Paris the United States plan of annihilating everything you see and without stopping to ask if it really needed to be done. The onlooking French can't believe what is going on, while the elite soldiers blow up everything and everyone. No emotion about the loss for the Parisians is shown, but once one of the team dies then a huge deal is made over his death. That sounds just like Black Hawk Down, we destroy their city and no one cares until they kill an American and the whole movie centers around the death of our soldiers. I'll admit that I like Toby Keith's patriotic tunes. There it's out there and now I can move on to the parity in Team America. To be really honest I am surprised the lyrics to the song haven't been picked up by a country singer, they are pretty good. However, since it is a parity, the song and montage show what I think America thinks about when you here an Alan Jackson song or any of the other countless patriotic tunes. America is great, we sacrifice so much for everyone else and we are always right and the "enemy" is always wrong. I think after watching this movie it motivates me to do a little research when I hear a claim on TV by a reporter or politician. Maybe they are telling the truth but I think if you want to sound truly knowledgeable about something you shouldn't just take a news sources word for it.

Team America

Team America: World Police… I’m not sure exactly how to react to this movie (And I say movie, not film, because puppets do not strike me as a film). The first time I saw it, I had a strong urge to walk out of the theater, which I have never done before. I had a feeling it wasn’t something I would normally watch when I looked around and I was one of maybe three females in the theater. This time around, I watched it on my own and actually listened to what was being said. Most of it contained cracks at politics and an extreme view of what America stands for, so extreme it’s unbelievable.

Gary’s quote about dicks, assholes, and pussies was actually interesting… in a weird way. The “dicks” in the theory represent the view that everyone has of Americans. He says that it’s better to be dicks- because even though they are reckless and arrogant, they always win, because they are the only ones who can beat both the other two. The other two will never be able to solve anything among them. The film definitely focuses on the idea of how the rest of the world likes to portray Americans- reckless and arrogant; especially when they are destroying the Eiffel Tower and blowing up the pyramids in Cairo.

I’m still not a fan of the movie, but this time I have more respect for what it is trying to say. The first time, all I saw was buildings being blown up a puppets having sex, but watching it a second time I was able to pick up on other things in the film, although there were still way too many lines about stupid things that seemed to dominate the movie.

Someone's got to fuck all these ass holes...

Watching Team America was a perfect way to end this "war films" class. The length and intensity of the other films is softened by this poetic farce. I mentioned before that the idea of America as the "world police" was an issue in war films and in wars in general. This movie directly confronts this issue and while remaining ambiguous as to which side is correct ( at least until the end ). We see both sides of this. The world police storm through Paris, destroy everything, kill civilians, and accomplish nothing ( because an act of terror is still committed ). On the other hand we see the actors as "F.A.G.’s" and worthless. The scene that really addresses this issue is at the end - "dicks fuck ass holes." I know it’s stupid and dirty, but there is an air of truth to the argument. The sexual connotations make the ideas personal. It is true that the government leaders are sometimes dicks and they fuck all of our pussy citizens, but they also fuck all those ass holes out there who are trying to shit on everybody. Pussies can’t fuck ass holes, so someone needs to. Since there can never be equality amongst men there must be balance. The dick, pussy, asshole system seems balanced. There will always be ass holes out there that need to be fucked, and if we consider ourselves dicks we need to maintain that status. America is in danger of slipping into "ass hole". I’m sure if Iraqis made a "Team America World Police," we would be the "ass holes". I do think that America can really be a dick sometimes and that is ok. We just need to be careful not to somehow morph into a giant ass hole. PS I guess everyone forgot about this blog....

Team America

Oh my gosh this movie was so disgusting, I am such a grandmother...those puppets were too vulgar for me. This movie made a great capstone to the Hollywood generated war genre we have been analyzing all semester. It exaggerated and poked fun at the cheesey conventions that link every war film to another in some common, predictable-ending way: love tri/quadrangles, women as distractions, ample sex for the hero, the spoken anxieties and fear of performance on the way to the mission, the betrayal of the team by a warrior and his imminent catharsis of conscience and return to save to the day, the racially integrated platoon, the "what will happen to your cock if you fail this mission" threatening by a superior, the guilt filled man serving his country to atone for past mistakes, and the inevitable montage where an inexperienced member of middle class suddenly becomes a highly-skilled, battle-ready combatant are a few examples.
This film calls out our nation's over-reaching dominion and disillusioned attempt to solve everybody's problems and name enemies for other countries and the plan of action to take against them for nations who may not have asked for our help. Kim Jong Il imagines a world post-destruction where "every country would be third world" and true human nature would be able to show its true colors in a dog-eats-dog world, where everybody could unleash their aggression and wield their power unabashedly with their individual benefit and survival in mind(like America has done before). Team America seems to be sending the message that world peace is unattainable and terroristic activity will pop up no matter how many times we intervene jihad attacks. We upstage ourselves with loftier missions and goals, as we see ourselves as crusaders for the righteous and good and democratic cause, neatly symbolized with helicopters done up in patriotic red, white and blue helicopters with the all-seeing eye of the Eagle in this film. In certain situations and world crises, it is obvious that our nation is too idealistic; Kim Jong Il points this truth out when he tells Lisa: "You believe in true love and happy endings even when the world around you is spiraling downward" to which she responds, "Sometimes believing is all we have." Americans are compelled trust in Peter Jennings' breaking news stories; our military depends on (questionable) I.N.T.E.L.L.I.G.E.N.C.E., faulty computers can be blamed for friendly fire mistakes and even bigger ones. Neither the "America, Fuck Yeah, coming Again to Save the motherfucking day" method of achieving peace (which entails landing our infedel Black Hawks down on foreign markets and city centers and burning the oil fields and killing goats who scream for help with a black liquid death sometimes) NOR the Alec Baldwin-lead Actor's Guild compassionate, talk-it-through approach to dealing with the nuances of global politics "by people who truly understand them- "namely us" -were portrayed as a better option than the other one in Team America. This film really just questions which of the two is the lesser evils- good intentioned yet disillusioned activists in Hollywood who tell us what is news or the aggressive yet effective behavior of U.S. military which Hollywood criticizes for unwillingly creating new enemies in their attempt to achieve world peace.
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** "Hate to break up this party but there's still a lot of bad guys out there" --Joe
** "I'm not from Hollywood, I'm not going to fuck your mouth, and my time's extremely valuable"--Spottswoode
** "We will write you a letter telling you how angry we are" --Hans Brix for the U.N. to Kim Jong Il when not allowed to search the whole palace for wmd's

Monday, December 05, 2005

Aaron has lost his damn fool mind.

Team America: World Police raises a lot of issues. Some of theses issues are political, others cultural. On the political side, we see Team America blindly destroy cities and kill innocent civilians during the course of their heroic missions, which of course brings to mind the destruction wrought on urban areas and civilians around the world during the course of war. (One could easily argue that this is pointed squarely and obviously at the United States war on terror, but I’ll leave that alone this time.) On the cultural side, we clearly see a skewering of our society’s celebrity-obsessed, media-saturated culture, and we also have a thorough ripping of lame Hollywood action-movie conventions.

You know, I think Team America: World Police is one of the funniest movies I have ever seen. I just want to say that up front. My friends and I laughed so hard in the theater that I couldn’t hear half the movie and had to go back and watch it again just to get the full picture of what was going on.

But, hilarious as the film is, it raises an issue which really chaps my ass. I may go off the deep end here, so please forgive me if it gets ugly. But this whole movement to mock the Martin Sheens and George Clooneys of the world -- the tendency to dismiss celebrities’ views as somehow uninformed or unimportant and generally unworthy of the public’s attention -- is a movement that is sheer laziness at best and downright dangerous censorship at worst. Really, I just want someone to tell me -- why is Martin Sheen’s opinion so unimportant? Or George Clooney’s? Or Alec Baldwin’s? Or Sean Penn’s? Why are these opinions less valuable than, say, Rush Limbaugh’s? Or Shawn Hannity’s? Was Ann Coulter born with some sort of righteous red-white-and-blue stick up her ass that makes her inherently more knowledgeable than any other person who actually takes the time to study the newspapers or history books? (And just what history book is Ms. Coulter reading, anyway? The one where Joe McCarthy was a patriot and a hero, right? Oh, right.)

This may not be the most popular idea in the world these days, but let me just say that in the sad frame of our society, where more and more young people get their news from the The Daily Show and SNL’S “Weekend Update” than from daily newspapers, I think that informed celebrity opinions do have value. No one can argue that our world is consumed by celebrity. We’ve talked about it before. The market for celebrity “news” is gigantic and is not going away any time soon. So, if society places these people on a pedestal -- right or wrong -- isn’t it almost a necessity that these celebrities use their place on that pedestal to speak to their audience? Don’t they owe that to us? Liberal, conservative, whatever, if celebrities are given a voice of power it is incumbent upon them to speak with that voice. Does that mean that everything they say is the gospel truth? No. But is everything George Bush says the gospel truth? No. Is everything Jesse Jackson says the gospel truth? No. If George Clooney wants to speak his mind and raise issues to his audience that said audience might not otherwise hear, then he should do that. And as his audience, we should determine for ourselves whether his ideas have merit. And that determination can only be made by arming ourselves with our own information -- real information, facts and history from all angles. You can’t say George Clooney’s movie is bullshit just because Ann Coulter thinks Joe McCarthy is a patriot and she thinks George Clooney's movie is bullshit.

It really saddens me that so many people are so quick to disregard the opinions of others. Is it easier to swallow the party line, and look only at the thin layer of “news” the media hands us, and not explore the issues to the full extent they deserve? Sure it is. Is it easier to sit around the house with your bros, watchin’ CSI and chuggin’ Natty Light, rather than taking a few minutes out of the day to actually pay attention to the world around you? You bet. Is it ore fun to play Star Wars Galaxies for days on end, rather than take a few minutes out of each day to actually use the internet for something halfway constructive, like reading a newspaper or two from somewhere outside your hometown? Gosh, I guess so. Is it easier to make fun of somebody’s hairdo rather than actually think about the difficult issue they just raised? Well, yeah. Of course it’s easier. It's easier to do nothing all day than to do something for just one minute. But is it right? Is it better? I doubt it.

Okay. I’ll stop now.

Team America, Fuck yeah! / Jesse Savill

Although the film, Team America, World Police uses marionettes and ridiculous voices, ludicrous characters such as Michael Moore who never stops eating, and almost retarded songs, it hits on a lot of aspects that Americans ask themselves; Why do we feel the need to liberate all countries of corrupt leaders? Why is it our job to remove dictators from power? On whose authority are we granted permission to put in a leader who will cooperate with us?
The lead character, Gary Johnston, becomes head of the World Police after his broadway show, Lease. Why an actor? Because we need faux people who don't have a clue what they're doing to lead our soldiers into battle against terrorists. haha, not funny. Furthermore, aren't we becoming terrorists by going into other countries and terrorizing the terrorists?
Although hilarious and extremely ridiculous, Team America, World Police provides insights and questions to a lot of the policies we as American's enact today. All in all, just for the comedy of the film, I must say, TEAM AMERICA, FUCK YEAH!

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Jarhead

Jarhead will go down as one of the most anti-climactic movies I've ever seen. That said, it got its point(s) across. I expected nothing less from Sam Mendes.

When Swofford is going through his training, the "pink mist" is introduced as the ultimate goal; what every sniper should strive for. It's the reason they are putting themselves through hell. Swofford's desires resonate throughout the audience, and we leave the theatre as unfulfilled as he and Troy leave the war.

The significance of the Vietnam War in this film cannot be overstated. Swofford and his peers worship the war much like the prior generation worshiped WW II. And therein lies the problem. WW II was a necessary evil. The men who fought in it were fully aware of their responsibilities, and of the consequences of failure. Victory meant freedom, triumph over evil -- whereas victory in Vietnam just meant maintaining the status quo. The soldiers who fought in Gulf War I shared a lot with the soldiers of Vietnam. Even though we were victorious, there was still no clear goal. The war bred confusion and a general feeling of inadequacy. Only Kruger knows what's really going on, and his opinions are largely disregarded because he's a stereotypical bumpkin.

In the homecoming scene, the Vietnam vet on the bus serves as a reality check for Swofford and the rest of the Marines. They're all dissapointed that they didn't see more action in the war, but once they realize how mentally scarred this man is, they all get this awkward look in their eyes. They don't know how to react to his praise and sympathy, because they know they haven't seen 1/10th of what he saw. They immediately go from being dissapointed by that to being grateful for it. At the same time, it only serves to further fuel their feelings of inadequacy. They all have blueballs, for lack of a better word. Highly trained and motivated, their military careers were wasted. They traded their lives and their potential as civilians for a few days that will forever haunt their psyche and leave them feeling hollow.

Jarhead

Did I really doubt that a day in the life of a soldier is usually like...well, just another monotonous day in the desert? Did I really expect that day in the dessert to be fully packed with action and adventure? Not exactly, but I found myself surprised to hear thier routine consisted of "hydrate..patrol empty deserts..navigate imaginary minefields..throw hand grenades nowhere..fire at nothing..hydrate some more." To me the film Jarhead draws much of its cinematic inspiration and reflects parallel emotions with those of the Vietnam War in its murky purpose, the underappreciated G.I., and the lack of interest on the home front. As I was watching Swoffs days fill with cleaning up fecal matter, sneaking liqour and abandoning his watch on Christmas Eve, and showering with his buddies, I felt like I would have been one of those lazy, disinterested Americans in the Vietnam war era, apathetic to the safety or dangers of the men in that war. They were pitting the scorpions they caught against each other for heaven's sake. These men looked safe. If only their gas masks didn't malfunction, and they used all the techniques they had practiced in training, the audience felt comfortable that their four days of actual combat would run as smoothly as the rest of their service, probably uneventful.
The attention was taken away from the fears of the front line soldiers to those totally separate fears of those who have too much time to think. These men suffer from paranoia about their wife cheating back home and worry about when they'll get the chance to take the shot they've been lusting about since their induction as a Sniper. The long, hard training ingrained in the men a sacred respect for their rifles. "There are many like it but this one is mine. Without my rifle I am nothing. Without me my rifle is nothing" was the mantra repeated over and over. Then in the airfield tower scene when Swofford and Troy were to take the hit on two commanding Iraqis, the firing squad in the airforce came and lit up the entire compound, stealing the Swoff and Troy's only chance at glory. Their excitement was once again anti-climatic. They never needed their rifle, though they had learned to put so much trust in the symbiotic relationship they were supposed to have with it. The sacred, the religious, gets perverted in other places in Jarhead. For instance, Sykes during training breaks down any external moral barriers which are to be 'subsumed by the military code: "Now the Bible says 'Thou Shalt Not Kill.' Now hear this: Fuck-that-shit." Sykes yells at the corpse of the man shot in the head because he couldn't keep going during the crawling on the stomach drill. The wall of shame is a perversion of the innocent, motivating force that women were portrayed to be by old Hollywood, waiting faithfully on the homefront. Instead of fighting for them, the soldiers use the frustration and obsession they have with the women to focus their anger towards the cause at hand, to put their heart and entrust feelings with their faithful brothers, and to become stronger soldiers. The sacred bond of marriage is shown to be corruptible with the porn-spliced "Deer Hunter" video. When Swofford is losing his mind, unsuccessfully masturbating, having hallucinating dreams and complaining that no 'standard solution' exists for his problem (going crazy over a girl), the comment is made "If the Corp wanted you to have a wife, they'd've issued you one."
This film also deals with the beauty of war. The burning oil wells were an awe-inspiring spectacle, but the wandering horse struggling to breathe and the distant gunfire, also the guy screaming because oil was raining in his eyes, reminded the audience that the desert was, for some, a little piece of Hell. The scene where Troy and Swoff's glorious moment was invaded and taken over by the 'zoomies' who are resented throughout the war. Resentment towards the Air Force is expressed throughout the film. Troy(?) makes the comment "Fucking zoomies, they gonna win the war all by themselves, by the time we have our rifles dialed the war's gonna be a mile down the road." It is like they are fighting an uphill battle to maintain the rank of importance and prestige and even the necessity of the Jarheads, especially the spotter/snipers, within the American military. In this sense, they are like the Vietnam war veterans who can't let go of the memory, can't stop trying to impress upon the nation that their service meant something.

Jarhead, an enriching story about blue balls

Swoffort's character is one that is rarely so intricately disected in war films, the kid who never wanted to go to war in the first place. Swoffort's character addresses many issues that seems to plague the military's image. Swoffort's original desire to go to college, but joining the marines to avoid the hurdle of parents that won't pay for him, and a family that's not desirable to live with is one such example of may army recruits. There are some circles that would say the marines purposefully targets these children because of their lack of options, but also seems to reflect on flawed governmental-aid employment programs that don't allow any other more desirable options.

A friend of mine made the comment of how he felt Troy's character was screwed over by the military. I'm not sure if army veterans get special funerals when they die out of combat, but he was upset at the point that even though Troy fought for his country under false circumstances, he still did not get any service recognition at his funeral. This is just one display of the problems with veterans on their return home from war. Another time this is addressed is when the dissheveled Vietnam Veteran climbs aboard the bus to get the welcome parade that never was granted to him.

Jarhead's perspective on the life of a soldier in Operation Desert Storm was one that was determined to show the truly animalistic qualities of the soldier in war. The soldiers we encounter in this film spent their whole war campaign being geared up and coerced to release. Pictures of girlfriends back home, pink scented letters with nothing emotionally promising on the inside, day after day of intense training to work toward your chance at "pink mist" all become a carrot dangling in front of the workhorse pulling the oil industry's stagecoach. One can see this when they begin showing the men Apocolypse now, only to stop after the "Flight of the Valkyries" scene plays out while a voice over the loudspeaker tells the men to "GO GET YOU SOME". In this film, the urge for release is what every man strives for, whether it be in the form of masturbation, stripping nude in order to party and drink unregulated water, or just get that one kill they've been promised from day one.

This movie needs help opening the Jar

Jarhead is a movie that seems confident in itself...look at its tag line “welcome to the suck”. The critics could and some probably did use that as an attack on the movie...I mean its right there. Bit of a tangent here. Now “the shit” and being in it, is something that is in a lot of war movies and war in general. Its an expression that, like the feces it hyperbolizes (should that be a word and/or applicable) rises to the top. Of course turds might also sink, as do some catch phrases, the Pepsi “chill out” campaign which i may be the only one in class who remembers or the “lord have mercy” catch phrase John Stamos tried to hard to get off the ground but never did. The Suck. The Shit. Looking at the two phrases, and being familiar with one and not the other, one wonders why the change. Well one can, as I did while watching the trailers, simply assume that the suck is a PC way of saying the shit and avoiding the attack by the FCC. Possible, but Ii recall it being used in the movie. Perhaps this is a trailer scene infused in my memory, something I will get to.


So what of the film despite a reflection on its confidence? Well...that's a good question. What of it? This film is a pretty solid character piece, it was after all based upon an autobiography/memoirs. Let's say autobiography as Swoff isn't a geisha. But this is a movie and not a autobiography and it seems to forget that, thus the problems. This movie was decent enough in a purely entertaining way but as a work of film seemed kinda, well, boring. It isn't due to lack of visuals, or good actors, or anything one might expect to cause such a lull. Rather it lacked clarity of pacing. This was a movie lacking a real plot, and rather simply one with many subplots to try to cover that up. Movies could be made here. The Troy/Swoff thing could have been further explored and there could have been a plot there. The Swoff/Girlfriend thing could have been made into a plot. No real lessons learned. No real character development. Not to be exceptionally crass but this movie is comparable to a story being told to you by a child, names and events are mentioned but its clearly not going anywhere “And then billy stole my bike, and i was mad. Then i played power rangers with Cindy. And then.... etc”. Autobiographies work because they offer reflection on, and the writer thinking more reflectively on his or her actions. This movie does some voice over stuff but they lack particular weight or resonance, despite ironically being repeated. Books can convey and experience, movies simply can show someone having an experience. Thus the failing for this movie. Look at the trailer, one of the better ones in recent memory. What better form or example for pacing and storytelling can there be than a trailer. Cut in anyway it tells a story. Don't believe me? Here is the funny shining redux trailer that someone made casting it in a different light http://media.putfile.com/SHINING31 . The Jarhead trailer did what the movie didn't, constructed a story. The Swoff/girlfriend thing seemed to never really get resolved, the audience had to take some visuals and infer. The Troy death wasn't mentioned particularly. I personally thought perhaps suicide or considering the character, meth lab explosion. This movie needs an ending. It needs an epilogue. And its middle is kinda weak to be quite frank.


So again...what of the movie. Its a seemingly weird message presented to be sure. Sure Swoff vomits when he sees all the crispy critters. And yes he pisses himself. But he still wants a kill. Still wants the trill. Still wants to get his gun off. And perhaps that is the interesting aspect itself. Today's military seems effectively crazy. They are so wrapped up in the mythos and cultural fluff job of war they seem to have trouble assimilating to the reality of it. But what is really interesting is they don't spin out really or go crazy like one might expect a Vietnamer to, they seem rather wanting to perhaps deny more. Wrap that flag around themselves a little righter. Have more bravado. Perhaps this is an age of excess hold over.


And although i tend to always harp on it, this movie also seems so homoerotic. The constant talking about their junk or other guys junk, or how guys yelling moved their junk, or how playing with their junk is a better use of time was simply the icing on the cake. The cake in all its carb glory was filled with glamor shots of males shirtless or male nudity or whatever. Now male nudity isn't itself homoerotic, that would be something a John Ashcroft might say before he goes off to burn some books. But considering what this movie was about, essentially war, and the breakdown of that audience it comes off as weird that more male flesh was seen than female (although when one looks at 80s action movies it seems to be a standard practice but those movies too are some ultra masculine they become flesh fest for male figures, and figures that would seem more in tune with a males aspect of what could be hot on another male than a females perspective on what is attractive). Perhaps the one soldiers wife was the only female nudity but even that might have been so blurred or inconsequential to be rendered insignificant. Now i don't discount the homoerotic nature of the military itself, I'm sure its quite common there, but the fact that war movies have it so prominent and front and center seems an interesting societal commentary.


Overall Jarhead still seems to lack purpose or clarity. The ending was anti-climatic. Nothing seemed to get accomplished. And for those reasons perhaps it it, flawed yes, but good for the Gulf War.

Jar head

I thought JarHead was a good movie. It has alot of criticism coming because it idles for about an hour and a half or so. But it is portraying a war that was all about waiting. There war only four days of war and months of sitting around. That is a fact of the war. So when the movie does the same thing it is being true to history. So I had no problem with the way the story was told. In fact the time they spent sitting around and building to the war is funny as hell. Going into the film I had no idea it was going to be kind of comedy. The way the men in the army try to pass time is really interesting. Its just like me and my friends when we get bored. We get drunk and talk about sex. Its cool to see that no matter where guys are we still talk about the same stuff and act the same way. It doesn't amtter that there are bombs going off within earshot. I think this film does agreat job of showing what war has become. Its like a spectators sport even for the men that are fighting in it. Instead of fighting face to face with the enemy they drop bombs on them from miles away. Then they sit back at watch from a lawn chair that they carry with them. In my opinion this makes war too easy and that's why we have so many today without really thinking about the consequences. In this way the director has accomplished making a true antiwar film
Many thought that the film Jarhead lacked in actually presenting what being in war was like, however I felt that it gave a different angle to war than just the gore and guts. An issue that many forget in war is the waiting period. During this time, the men seem to anticipate and long for that feeling of actually killing. The waiting period is crucial in war because this is a times when the soldiers reflect and examine their reasoning for being in war. I feel that the waiting period is when they actually become the jarhead, because they wait and replay repeatedly in their minds what it may be like to be at war. Going through what you have seen or heard about war can create some damage. For instance is it better not to do something and get it over with so you do not dwell on it too much. This is how I think the soldiers feel when waiting. Sitting and thinking about what can happen or will happen can be the scariest part of war. Not knowing to expect gives a side of war that is ambivalent. Not only does the uneasiness of what to expect from war come in but so does the wondering of what is going on at the home front. For many of the men their wives and girlfriends gave them hope and reason, but thinking about what these women could possibly be doing causes their motivation to dwindle into a question. Although the film is thought as a war film, it could easily categorize as a comedy. This was probably one of the funniest movies I have seen. It makes you say, “Boys can be boys.” No matter what was going on these men found some way to make the best of everything. They each in their own way tried to bring with them a piece of home whether it is a sport, a picture, a shirt, or a memory. The best way to deal with the actuality of being in war is creating an atmosphere that is familiar.

Here is a link to movie reviews for Jarhead

Go here.

Jarhead, not an empty vessel of a movie

No matter what others may say about Jarhead being boring, I think that it was entertaining while at the same time conveying the idea that the soldiers had to wait and be bored themselves. This film was anti-climactic for a reason, and it handled it a lot better than I even thought was possible. I think the humor mixed in (which was suprising to me, I thought this film would be serious) was the element of entertainment that they needed in order to keep this film entertaining and accurate. The scene where Swofford walks towards the corpse with the black, sooty ash under his feet and he leaves white footprints emphasizes his purity towards the situation of war, he has never killed but is trained to, he is surrounded by death but never experiences himself, he is almost simply an observer to it all. I liked the "one shot" reference to The Deer Hunter , or the abscence of the shot and ow it made the soldiers feel to be trained to kill and not get one shot. Obviously it upset them because of the scene where they set up the shot and then the others come by to actually shoot. It brings up an interesting question, what do you do if you don't get your one shot? What do you do if you train for something, be surrounded by it, and it never happens? What happens to all the leftover anticipation? It has to go somewhere, and it would be interesting to see how each soldier would deal with it later on in life. As Swofford said, "Whatever else he may do with his life- build a house, love a woman, change a son's diaper- he will always be a jarhead. And all the jarheads killing and dying, they will always be me. We are still in the desert." So in a sense, they never leave because they never do the job they came to do. Just like ghosts wandering the earth. Kruger was my favorite character (besides Swofford) because of all his questioning, he had good reasoning behind all that he did, and he was willing to vocalize his opinions no matter what the situation was. And despite his questioning of authority, he is still there. He is still doing his job, and there is a reason for him wanting to be there. I think his character provides a good balance in personality because of these actions. I'd be friends with him.

Jarhead

I’m still in limbo over how I felt about this movie. Just when I thought it was boring, unproductive or redundant, Jake Gyllenhaal was naked and made everything ok until he took his clothes off again. But seriously. The one thing I walked away from the movie with was all of the irony that took place. First off, they were trained for so long for such a short war. They were in the desert for months adjusting to the climate, learning how to properly hydrate themselves, running in the heat with all of their gear, talking to the press, etc. Once it came time for them to fight, while it was intense, it was relatively short compared to other wars. They were also trained on how to use and respect their rifles. They were told their rifle was a part of them and they were nothing without it. After hearing that so many times and chanting it to themselves, it really became a part of them. They had a certain love with their guns. They were all ready to use their guns at any given chance, but after all the training and preparation, almost none of them had the opportunity to even fire their rifles during combat. I don’t know how I would feel in their situation. On the one hand I would be glad that I didn’t have to live with killing another person. On the other (honest) hand, if I went through all the months of mental and physical training, if I had myself ready to go to war and fight my for country and the betterment of a cause, I would at least want to kill or capture somebody, or do anything besides wait for nothing. I would somehow want to make a difference, have something to talk about, come home with a story to make my parents proud, to make the whole hellish experience worth it. I wouldn’t know how to justify the depression and mental anguish I would put myself through preparing for war, and then get over there and do next to nothing. Or perhaps I would feel worse if I did take another person’s life. I’m glad I don’t know what I would do and I hope I never know. I just thought the movie should address the men post-war like it showed them pre-war. Maybe then my interest would have been held like it was when Swoffard was naked. Yum. (I wonder how great I would think this movie was if it had no sexy naked leading man. Perhaps I would have taken it more seriously).


And just an interesting tidbit I picked up about this movie:
The word "fuck" and its variants are used 278 times in this film (38 times with the prefix "mother").

Jarhead

WEll now we are back to a war movie that shows no war, only the waiting periods between battles. This movie however does encompass some of the topics that have been raised all year. First off being the brotherhood that is formed within a unit. These men become brothers almost instantly or they cannot survive. They live to save the mans life next to him. The bond between soldiers is one that no one else can even possible fatham. No one can recreate it and no one help one who loses a brother in war. These men go through hell in a desert for years together, showering, sleeping, breathing the same hot air every hour of everyday. I really wish i knew what that bond felt like, if even for a day.
Next is religion, another topic covered extensively in class, only this time its a little different. I was particularly intrigued by two lines that were said by the staff sargaent Sykes(Jamie Foxx). The first, " As I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, i will fear no evil, becasue i am the baddest motherfucker on the planet" This line really caught my attention because he takes something that is so sacred, that being lines from the bible, and turns the words into something of a battle cry. The next line being "Thou shall not kill... Fuck That!!". Sykes takes these biblical lines and uses them as motivation. These men are built up into thinking that they are the baddest motherfuckers on the planet so that confidence is not an issue. We ae americans and we will do what needs to be done and we will be the best at doing it. These battle cries were all over the movie but these two biblical parodies were the two that caught my eye.

Dude, hold my ankles 'cause I'm gonna go for the RECORD, man! Dude!

As I watched Jarhead, I found myself fighting off the urge to run out of the theater, jump in my car, head back home… and do a keg stand. This movie made me feel like the shy kid in eighth grade, reading H.G. Wells in the front of the room while the potheads sat in the back and took turns lighting each other’s arm hair on fire. Which is to say, I don’t really get it, and I don’t really want to get it; but hey, if setting your arm on fire gets your juices goin’, then by all means, have at it.

For me, this movie was about the dark underbelly of the "brotherhood of war" we've talked about so much this semester. My favorite line in Jarhead is when the guys are in the shower and one of them ducks by the camera and says, “Hey, that looks like a cock, only smaller!” It's my favorite line, because, for me, it encompasses one of the focal points of Jarhead -- the way in which some men might deal with their own insecurity by engaging in hyperagressive competition and -- dare I say it? -- dick swingin'. I almost want to go back and watch this movie again, just to keep a running tab as to how many “cock” references there actually are. I’m not sure that the movie completely celebrates machismo -- witness the way Swafford nearly breaks down after he realizes he’s gone a bit over the edge with pointing the rifle at Fergus, a scene which began by placing Swafford in a clear position of power -- but it certainly spends a lot of time glorifying these frat-boy antics as a sort of battlefield bonding. And there’s also a strong misogynistic feel to the story -- the men actual keep a running visual tab of all the ways they’ve been wronged by women (the “wall of shame” or whatever they call it), as if the film wants us to believe that all these men have left are each other, because they certainly can’t trust the evil women in their lives, who all seem to run off with the next-door neighbor the moment their soldier men touch down in a foreign country. It's telling that Swafford calls the husband who was betrayed by the Deer Hunter incident a "faggot"; at that point, Swafford himself feels betrayed by his own girlfriend, and, feeling weakened, immediately seeks to place himself in a position of superiority.

i don't feel good

Jarhead gave me a feeling that I had never gotten from a war movie—nausea. Films we have seen this year have been disgusting, graphic, and down right horrific, but I have never been disturbed like I was this time. Like, Allie mentioned, Swaff sitting down with those corpses and then throwing up was just unnerving. Also, Swaff’s gun show was horrible. Not only did he threaten his fellow soldier, he tried to make him fire on him, all the while he was venting his frustration, “If I slipped and shot you, at least then all the waiting would be over.” Later, the scene when the snipers are setting up for the kill and are told to hold their fire, Troy snaps. His over the top display of frustration is difficult to understand. He is so irate that he can’t even control himself. I thought that the CO might have to fight him to shut him up. The idea that a solider, or even a man, would be upset that he didn’t get to kill someone is disturbing. By the way-I hate Fowler. He is scum. One last scene that made me uneasy was the masturbation scene. In the theatre, you could have heard a pin drop. It was hard for me to sit still. All these scenes reflect how men change during war. Yes, Jarhead attempts to show the waiting, and it does so very well, but I think the real issue is about welcoming us all into “the suck.”
Troy put it best, “Fuck politics. We’re here. All the rest is bullshit.” This is, and should be, the attitude of every soldier. We know that brotherhood is huge in war films, and the bond that soldiers form is like no other. We know that we sometimes fight for stupid reasons, in this case oil, but care should be taken of this country and soldiers. If the war is unjust, protest and write letters, but don’t hate the soldiers. They take care of one another and do what they are told (even burn the camp’s fecal matter). I think this film did an excellent job of showing us what an individual may experience in war. We now have a full picture of war. I talked to people who thought it was boring. After watching war films as a critic, I disagree. Furthermore, I understand and appreciate what this film is trying to accomplish. War isn’t what Hollywood makes it out to be. There are themes in war, but until you experience “the suck” you can never fully appreciate what happens to our soldiers or how disturbing war can be.

Monday, November 28, 2005

Jarhead- truth?

I think I’ll start by noting something that Sandra said in her blog. She wrote about a young boy being brought to the film. This troubled me as well, as I saw a family with two young boys. The other thing that got my attention was a father who brought his daughter. His DAUGHTER! I see no reason to subject a young person to this. I don’t think anyone their age is going to learn anything from it. Maybe the Harry Potter movie was sold out. But man, the word “fuck” was said 278 times! You shouldn’t bring anyone to see this movie unless they are capable of understanding it!

I thought this movie was remarkable. There was just something about it that speaks to me after seeing all the war movies that we did. After seeing all the blood and guts (and reading about blood and guts), realizing the horrible truths (and exaggerations) of war, seeing the animalistic sides of men- what war can turn them into… Jarhead seems like a break from exaggeration. Although this might not be entirely true, Jarhead seemed like the truest tale we’ve heard. We see certain core aspects of a war movie, but with characters we can relate to, and with a storyline we can follow.

We don’t see much to say “ew” to in the first half of the film. I think the movie really gets going when Swoff loses it and threatens to kill the guy who got him in trouble. I mean, he really loses it. He just goes crazy, telling the guy to recite their little spurt about the gun that they learned in training. The guy, obviously scared to death, can’t get the words out, which angers Swoff even more. When he makes the guy point the gun at him and tells him to just kill him, he suddenly comes to. It was like he just then realized that this was the first time he’s gotten this close to death. This was the most action he’s seen. It was probably the most exciting scene of the movie. It shows you how sitting and waiting for action has Swoff on the edge of his seat, yearning for any kind of excitement. So he instigates it himself.

The fact that Swoff and Troy were disappointed that they never got to fire their rifles adds to the truth aspect. I was disappointed along with them. They had trained. They had made a perfect bulls eye- right in the head of their target. I wanted to see them save the day. But that’s not how it happened. Unpredictability. That’s truth.

Again, this movie seemed like it was telling the truth. But in all reality, I really don’t know what is truth and what’s not truth. In that way, I wish I was born a boy and had experienced it for myself. I’ll never know the complete truth about being in the middle of war, and that puts me farther away than I should be to be able to write about it.

Jarhead

"Welcome to the Suck." Jarhead borrowed scenes and dialogue from some of the most well know war films. Instead of pulling a John Wayne the snipers are told this is not Rambo when ordered on a mission. The first scene with the drill sergeant was eerily reminiscent of the opening sequence in Full Metal Jacket. The Marines watched Apocalypse Now and attempted to watch The Deerhunter. However, in a role reversal, the slow talking southerner is the soldier up on foreign policy and has a descent job when he returns home from the war.

The first scene that stuck out in my mind was when the soldiers initially arrived in the Middle East, the first sign that you see as they depart the plane says Oil. In the soldiers first briefing, the officer makes no bones about the fact that their mission is to protect the vast amount of oil in the Saudi oil fields. Swofford makes a great statement when the Marines first see the burning oil wells, he says "The earth is bleeding." Another scene that stood out was when the Staff Sergeant watched the sun set over one of the burms, the sky is obviously red, white, and blue. I do not believe this was a mere coincidence that American Marines watched a red, white, and blue sunset. The movie also had a subplot that the Marines did not re-up Troy's enlistment. During the first Gulf War the armed forces had the luxury of not keeping someone who wanted to stay because enlistment was sufficient. I wonder if Troy's enlistment status would differ in today's war? Lastly, as the soldiers celebrated they burned their uniforms and said we'll never have to come back to this place. OOPS!!

Jarhead

The idea behind Jarhead was different. Instead of showing the battle side of the war, showing the waiting really made for a different type of movie. I liked the idea, but I’ve battled with whether I actually liked the film or not. I know it’s something I would not want to see again. I actually prefer the action and battle scenes to the comments about women and the pornographic scenes. These are the more prominent scenes when I think back about this film. Any time someone asks me if I liked the movie, I think of the film that one of the soldier’s wives sends him and the crude jokes about the women that were left behind and how they are unfaithful.
Even though I didn’t entirely like the film, there were a few scenes that I thought brought up valid points about soldiers at war. One of those were the scene where Swoff and his partner (I believe his name was Troy) are on a sniper mission, and just after given the orders to kill are told they cannot kill their target, Troy gets really upset. He is upset because he doesn’t get to kill someone after having been in Iraq for months and the one chance he gets is gone. He begs and pleads to be given this one kill.
Overall, I found the film less for my taste, and although the film was slow it did show some interesting scenes, it just was definitely not the type of film I really enjoy. I never thought I’d say this, but I really enjoy those films like Saving Private Ryan which show men bonding over the strive to stay alive rather than this film which shows men bonding over telling crude jokes and stories about the women back home.

Oorah! That jarhead was me! Sarah Mokhiber

Jarhead, although I can agree with everyone who told me this movie was slow (I found myself restlessly moving in my seat) there was a little more to it than that. Like every other movie we have watched the first thing that draws me are the camera angles, lighting, and the position of people and props on stage. I really enjoyed how they used the camera to draw you in to certain frames and then drag you away as if to lose you in the moment. Also the heated frames with them walking through the desert kind of give the ambiguity that comes along with all war movies. When I first saw the previews for this film I thought it was going to be filled with political rhetoric, but I was surprised when it wasn’t. I really enjoyed the opening scenes of the film when Swafford is first being assigned his unit. He said he joined the marines because he got lost on his way to college. That seems to be a popular reason to join the armed services. When he first walks into the bunker, he is tricked into think that he has been branded by his new bunk mates, but in face it was the old switch-a-roo. I think this scene sets up the initial relationship between Swafford and Troy. After Swafford wakes up he realizes that he was not branded and Troy tells him that you have to earn the brand. This scene plays into some foreshadowing about what it takes to be a marine and fight with the corps. I felt like when Swafford first joined he didn’t really think he was going to be deployed. I really liked how this movie showed all the waiting around and boredom of the soldiers. They are trained so extensively to fight and how to handle war situations and when they get there, they have nothing to do. They have a few choices to try and pass the time; they can masturbate or read or masturbate or play game or masturbate. Wow that sounds like a lot of fun. I also liked how in this movie they showed the women not as the hero or the guiding hope for the soldier but ultimately she brings on a slight mental break down. As Swafford said, “For most problems the Marine is issued a solution. If ill, go to sickbay. If wounded, call a Corpsman. If dead, report to graves registration. If losing his mind, however, no standard solution exists.” There was no standard military solution to cheating girlfriends and wives other than the wall of shame. Once they finally do get deployed, they realize that there really was no clear mission, but when the get there find out what it is, to protect the oil. All that they are doing is setting up base camp and walking around in the desert. There was no real military action and all it seems like they were doing was protecting the big business money. Kruger said it best, “who do you think gave them all those guns? Us, and we are protecting the oil.” Even though Kruger was just a small town boy from Texas, it seems that he knows a lot about the government issues leading up to the war. Also, I liked the scene were he sort of protested the censorship of the military and the press by refusing to speak in his interview. Also during the interview scene, I liked how they repeated certain questions to Swafford as if he had to think about what the answer really was. “Do you have someone waiting for you at home?” Well he did and she cheated on him. “Are you scared?” Would you be scared over there? I mean all they could hear we the bombs, they never really saw anything. I really like the scene when Swafford had the dream. When he gets out of bed, and pardon my thinking but it looks as though when he was walking the he just got fucked in the ass (which he did by his girlfriend) and then he goes to the bathroom and sees her face in the mirror, looking back at him, with water dripping off her face. Then he throws up all that sand as if to purge himself of the desert and what the desert has done to him. Then he wakes up and realizes it was all a dream, the desert is still inside of him. Now Jamie Foxx did an excellent job playing staff sergeant Siek. He really brought the group together and held their focus at the task at hand. Welcome to the suck. It seemed to me that Siek had a strong focus on the task at hand, and although each of the men in his group was going through their own personal battle, he seemed to be the only one with his head on straight. Oorah! (Sorry I had to do that). But overall this movie was about one marine in particular just trying to serve his country and all of the people and situations he meets along the way. I was really glad that this movie wasn’t bogged down by political nonsense. And I must applaud the cast they did an excellent job!

Jarhead: 5 Days, 21 Hours, 13 minutes

Jarhead took me by surprise. I had heard it was boring, slow, long, etc. And while I can understand and respect that perspective, I don't necessarily agree with it. I found myslf so enraptured by Jarhead, by the ironic torture in its drawn out camera angles and heat warped shots that I only found myself spacing out looking at Jake Gyllenhall a record few times. (Just for the record, this movie would have been worth producing even with no plot, no dialogue, no other actors...just to see him.) Luckily for the class, though, there was more to it than that.
Don't get me wrong, I am not accusing Jarhead of having a plot. I am simply accusing it of being what all important war films are...deliberately ambiguous. This film was not headed in any particular direction from the beginning, there was no "IMPORTANT MISSION" or vengence to be had. It was no Rambo, there was no ruse of rescuing our poor trapped men - it was stated very clearly by the Sgt..."We are here to protect the oil." I knew this, but I was still shocked to hear it. A man died at boot camp, thrughout the movie we saw bombs drop and people die, we got an extraordinarily graphic view of charred bodies...all for oil. Not freedom, not our men or country or glory - for oil.

I feel like the carnage in this movie affected me more strongly that any other film we've watched. I was biting back tears as Jake...ahem, Swofford (Sorry, we're on a first name basis) looked around at the broken, charred remains of the civilians trying to escape and threw up - I wanted to throw up with him. This movie was sort of a contradiciton of itself...it acknowledged everything America has done wrong while asking we, the public, the people, to have faith in these soldiers. It spoke directly to some of the things skeptics like myself have been asking about all along - the soldiers being ordered to speak favorably of the combat, the waivers, the brutality...but it asked me to prevail and have faith. And I do.

"No Shot"

At the end of this film I rose from my seat and turned to leave with the few others that were present (no more than 15 people). It was then that I noticed a man and a boy, I assume father and son, who had been sitting just behind me. The boy was only about 9 years old and he stared at me (the only female present other than 2 middle aged women with their husbands) the entire way out of the theater. Of course, I don’t know why this guy brought this boy to this film, nor do I know what the kid was thinking afterwards, or why he walked backwards to keep staring at me, his eyes wide open almost as though surprised or afraid, as he and his father walked out ahead of me. But let me tell you about my subsequent assumptions. The only reason I can imagine for a man to bring such a young boy to a film like this is either ignorance of the content (in which case he should have left right at the beginning so I don’t think this is a possibility here) or some idea that showing a war film to this boy was going to show him how to be a man, or that it was going to show him something important and true about life. Personally I am sickened that anyone would subject any young child, male or female, to the kind of phonographic images and language present in this film. No matter the attempted justification. What is even worse is the image this film portrays of women, that they are all disloyal, unfaithful whores (except the one good pregnant wife who has no presence in the story), may well be one of very few images that young boy has of adult women, of how they behave and of how a man is expected to behave in return.

Well I could go on about that, but I should probably start talking about the movie itself. To start there is the obvious portrayal of women as disloyal in contrast to the men who are all very loyal to each other. That really started to bug me through the film because all the women were so bad, and none of the men were shown as cheating on their “girls”. In my experience of military life, yes some women do cheat, but yes so do some men, it all comes down to personality. The Wall of Shame only serves to further this idea that it is all women, not just one individual, are bad. Here the filmmakers are able to give many examples and hint at many more, of women harming men because they are disloyal, unfaithful whores. I had hope through out that Swoff’s growing paranoia’s about his girlfriend’s faithfulness would be proven wrong; that it would be an example of him being caught up in a lie, like the other mythical lies. But I received only disappointment.

I did like that the film was called jarhead. Since it is a derogatory term I really wondered what kind of film this was going to be. As connotations go, jarheads are those in the military who not only have the classic high and tight, but also are the epitome of stupid, crass, vulgar, inept, ect.

As we have seen with many previous war films, camaraderie is king and the men will forgive each other for things that would never be acceptable in any other kind of relationship. For instance when Swoff threatens to shoot another soldier and then tries to have the soldier shoot him.

This film certainly pays homage to its predessors, not only in the playing of those vary films (though we didn’t see much of the actual deer hunter) but also in the story line itself. The idea of “One Shot” becomes “No shot” here, as they are prevented from ever shooting their weapons. Swoff running for a battery reminds me strongly of Iwo Jima, as well as other films. Also the horse, wafting silently through the black rain, was a powerful image reminiscent of previous films (though not necessarily war films)

Jarhead

Jarhead truly re-defines what being a soldier is all about. The film pays respect along with putting down certain aspects of Full Metal Jacket at the sime time, all the while portraying the modern "war tactics" of today's army. No longer are soldiers caught in the jungles of Vietnam, entrapped by gunfire and mortars, emblazoned by enemy's shelling the dense foliage or sneaking out of rice paddies. Today's wars are fought democratically while the soldiers wait at base, unknowing of when or where they'll be sent when the time is called upon them.
In Jarhead, Swafford explains how boring and slow time passes through war. The soldiers even play football in their chemical suits in the middle of dry heat, fight captured scorpions while placing bets and pick on each other by telling each other their girlfriend's are cheaters. At one point, a soldier watches a porno of his wife cheating on him and doesn't realize it until halfway through. Swafford insists on watching it again so he "can know what it's like to watch another man fuck my girlfriend."
The respect to Full Metal Jacket starts off in boot camp, where Swafford gets his face smashed against a blackboard for telling the instructor "I got lost on the way to college". Later, Jarhead discriminates against the Vietnam War film by showing the sergeant of Swafford's platoon explaining how one of his fellow Marines will be court marshalled because "unlike the Army, we punish people for that shit," (talking about the Marine playing with a corpse and calling it his friend.)
Overall, Jarhead gives a portrait of the boredom and overall lack of actual "war." Swafford never fired his rifle at an enemy. Instead, he fired it in the air once the war was over. What does this say to the world? We train, we strive to be the best, and for what? To sit around, wait, sit around some more, wait some more, go out in the field, and be denied. War has become a chess game and we are the anxious players awaiting our turn to move.