We finally got around to watching something TV captured for us last week: a PBS program profiling the Marines. What was amazing about the show, considering the source, was how laudatory both Mr. Bookworm and I thought it was. It could not emphasize enough the rigors of training, the camaraderie, the bravery, the history and the honesty and morality of the Marines. I truly enjoyed the show, especially because it dovetailed so perfectly with my understanding of the men who fought at Tripoli, who captured Iwo Jima and who cleaned out Fallujah.
What was really interesting was Mr. Bookworm’s reaction. As readers new to my blog don’t know, while I crossed the Rubicon from liberal to conservative (or, I prefer to think, as the parties’ ethos shifted, the parties rejiggered themselves around me), Mr. Bookworm remained a die-hard liberal. Just to give you an idea, the Times is his browser’s home page! Mr. Bookworm hated the show. While he is fascinated by things military, he thought it was just awful to have a show treating the Marines with such respect, and not dishing out any dirt. After going on for a while about the show’s failings (“it’s just a recruiting film”), his final statement was “and on public television, of all places.” I had to laugh.
It did occur to me this morning, though, that Mr. Bookworm’s reaction may just have been because the show was, in fact, somewhat saccharine. He’s very attuned to movie scores, and the music they chose was this soaring, “inspiring” music tht just went on and on. That kind of thing is always irritating, especially if you pay attention to the music. What I did realize is that, if you’re a die-hard anti-War, anti-military nut, the show would probably please you too, because of the emphasis on the Marines’ warrior culture. After all, if you’re anti-War, the mere fact that a warrior culture exists would drive you crazy, wouldn’t it?
UPDATE: On the radio this morning, I heard an NPR story that probably comports a lot more with the “progressive” view of Marines than does the TV show, since it focuses on a Marine who is on trial for killing an Iraqi civilian (and mentions a few other ongoing military trials in the same vein).
Incidentally, am I the only one who finds it impressive that there are so few of these types of stories about military abuse of power? Considering the military’s demographics — young, male, armed, stressed — it’ s testament to our military that these stories are rare enough to be “man bites dog” headline grabbers, rather than “dog bites man” ho-hum stories.