Platoon from a Marxist’s POV

27 07 2008

Hah! Again, something pretty original!
by Scott H. (1987)

You can surely argue if this was true or not:

QUOTE: You see, the bad guys in Platoon understood something very basic that the “good guys” did not: The Vietnamese people were against them. Not just the NVA and the Viet Cong; but the whole people, including the women and children. If you thought it was all right to kill the men, but not the women and the children, then you were stupid, because they were all trying to kill you!

But this is surely a good observation:

QUOTE: It is also true that the “hero” of the movie does shoot the most repulsive character, the scarred U.S. sergeant. But even here, it was primarily an act of revenge for the killing of the “good” hippy sergeant. Did the hero think to do this after the genocidal killings of Vietnamese peasants in the village? No. He was upset, but they were “only” Vietnamese after all. Did he think to also shoot the Lieutenant and Captain who were ordering them out into the field to kill “gooks” in the first place? No. (To my mind even the most progressive U.S. soldiers in this movie are also repulsive.)

Finally someone giving more substance to the objection that Platoon shows only one side of the coin. Funny, I’ve read that argument a thousand times before and wasn’t convinced. It must be something in the choice of words, right now it is quite hard to arue with this:

QUOTE: Not only is the movie from the point of view of the average American soldier; we learn to know and empathize with American soldiers only. It is true we see some Vietnamese children crying as their mother is killed by the U.S. soldiers. But no Vietnamese person in this movie has a name or a personality.

Even from the point of view of the movie makers, let alone from that of the more reactionary characters in it, the Vietnamese people are being subtly dehumanized. Because we are not allowed to get to know them we find it hard to care for them as much as we do the Americans. The words for this sort of thing are racism and national chauvinism.

There is no way you can have a truthful, honest movie about Vietnam which does not itself really think of Vietnamese as people, and portray them as such.

Of course in a Vietnamese movie the Viewer would sympathize with Vietnamese people and of course it would be natural. But, I think we maybe should just keep this fact in mind.


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