Friday, September 15, 2017

What Kind of Impact Will The New Vietnam Documentary Have?

Good Day World!

I wonder what value a new documentary on Vietnam will have?

Filmmakers Ken Burns and Lynn Novick teamed up on the project:

(Photo by Henri Huet, AP)

The Vietnam War, premiering Sept. 17 on PBS.

The timing of the release is interesting.

The documentary is about one of the most divisive periods of American history - the 60's and the 70s. Revisiting it in the equally divisive society we live in now is part of the message.

It's obvious the lesson of a made-up war never sunk in. It just took a few decades before Americans were once again involved in an overseas war of aggression against Iraq on false pretenses.

So what is the purpose of bringing up an illegal war that has been written about extensively, had documentaries devoted to it, and even mainstream movies?

If the filmmakers think that a new generation will be morally affected by the Vietnam War, I wouldn't bet on it. We're currently in another war in Afghanistan that's been going on for a decade.

How many protest marches have you seen about getting out of Afghanistan? Political pundits play with the idea, but no one seriously sees an end to that bloody debacle.

Trump quietly sent 3,500 more troops over there last week. If that isn't proof of generational stupidity, I don't know what is. America has cast a blind eye to imperialism. 

This new documentary has complied what was already out there, and is presenting it in 10 episodes and 18 hours.

There are 80 interviews with Vietnam Veterans, but for the most part it's a collection of prior works and films.

Some viewers may come away pitying the men and women who fought in Vietnam. Some will also revile the soldiers who fought there.

In what I see as an ironic twist, the narrative has changed, and some people feel guilty about how they reacted to returning veterans.

That guilt has morphed to a new narrative, "Welcome Home." As a Vietnam Veteran (1970), I'm conflicted about the greeting.

On one hand, it's really nice to have strangers come up to you and say "Welcome Home."

On the other hand, you feel guilty for what you did in Vietnam, and getting a blanket pardon doesn't change that fact. 

Another fact, two-thirds of the Americans who fought in Vietnam are dead. A good portion of that remaining one-third has PTSD like me.

Ken Burns told PBS, "This film is for everybody and will hopefully remind us all to have the kind of civil discourse that we’ve forgotten how to have.”

This new documentary is professionally done. Now, let's see how many people watch it. 

Time for me to walk on down the road...

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