Written by, Roy Smith
Why is it that HBO can recreate the Roman Empire with extreme historical accuracy yet “Army Wives” cannot manage to secure a beret correctly on a commanding officer’s head? Any soldier past or present knows what I am talking about. Many Marines I know will stop watching a show as soon as they screw up the marine uniform or confuse tactics of the Army with the Marine Corps. In spite of thier million dollar budgets, Hollywood just does not understand the military.
I am not saying that all military movies are bad. I love “Tears of Sun”, most of the military guys I know do. Why do we love it? It’s accurate enough to be believable by present and former military personnel.
My hope is that someone with some pull in Hollywood will come to realize that whenever an actor wearing a Marine uniform incorrectly, every present, current, and future marine who watches that show will not take it kindly. After all, “Once a marine, always a marine”. They don’t like to see their Corps misrepresented. Now I am not saying the Commandant of the Marine Corps is going to call you if you produce a movie about marines and get their uniforms wrong, or worse, have a Marine call another Marine a soldier. They don’t call themselves soldiers, they are marines. The show will just loose a sizable portion of it’s audience.
The problem is widespread and is not just seen on the small screen. What is more surprising is that even the big budget movies that have the money to hire consultants and real military equipment get it wrong. They even pay to have their actors go through actual military training and still get it wrong. It seems to me that the mindset of the movie producers and directors is to get the big money shot of stuff blowing up or the rocket launcher which can shot down a helicopter but then forget to instruct the costume department on how the actor should be wearing a beret and that US Special Forces don’t carry around M16s. Additionally, it would be a good idea to make sure the actor wearing the uniform of a US soldier at war is not fat. Most civilians unfamiliar with the wear of the uniform and how it is supposed to fit might not notice the bulge in the midsection of the actor but those of us who have worn it notice. If I had soldiers under me who looked like most of the “soldiers” you see on most shows depicting the military, they would be with me at 5 a.m. every morning for training.
The point I am really trying to make is that those of us who have worn the uniform don’t want it to be seen by millions of people with some severely out of shape guy or gal wearing it. There have been literally millions of Americans now who have worn a uniform to defend this country since 9/11. They deserve for it to be represented with pride and worn correctly.
The fact is that more tactical research was done for “Tomb Raider” than most military movies. Why was that? Angelina Jolie was trained by a former British special forces soldier for several months prior to filming the movie. He turned a skinny little gal into a butt kicking chick in three months of training. Why aren’t other movies and television shows doing this?
That’s not to say every actor should train like Matt Damon, Brad Pitt, or Angelina Jolie. I am just saying that more of them can. More should be expected from Hollywood
when they are depicting our job on the big screen.
Let’s talk about explosions. I am avoiding ‘Green Zone’ because that would be like picking on the handicapped. That movie sucked from a military tactics standpoint. I’ve never met an EOD specialist who liked it and I know quite a few. GI JOE was another one but at least the made it clear it was not based on a real world situation. Good special effects but as far as tactics of any military organization I have ever seen, it was so far out there that I wouldn’t even know where to start.
If there are any retired military people out there who have knowledge of the film industry or even just know people in the film industry, I encourage you to speak to them.
I want to see a good movie that doesn’t have so many mistakes in it that I can’t stand to watch it.
For the rest of you, if you happen to run across the guy who trained the actors for Troy, Tomb Raider, Mr. & Mrs. Smith, and the Bourne series, buy him a drink and shake his hand for me (just make sure it’s a good beer, Brits know good beer). He did a damn good job even if he is British. I wouldn’t make fun of him about being British though, he was Special Forces and I have worked with enough of those guys to know they don’t take crap from anyone.
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