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Vietnam War & Anti-War Film

This paper will be concerned with the Vietnam War and the anti-war film. Most critics have agreed that true antiwar films are virtually impossible to achieve. Many films which have been defined as anti-war films actually end up justifying or even glorifying the idea of warfare. In the early 1960s, Paul Goodman claimed that the first criteria of an anti-war film is that it "not do positive harm by predisposing its audience toward war" (195). According to Goodman, most so-called anti-war films fail in meeting this criteria because they tend to glorify violence rather than condemn it. Goodman points out that "the images of senseless violence, horror, and waste that are usually employed in the commercially successful 'anti-war' films without doubt have a pornographic effect and remain in the soul as excitants and further incitements" (195). Such anti-war films do not provide a clear anti-war message; they are actually entertainment spectacles centering around the theme of violence and warfare, "and to be entertained on such a theme is damaging" (197).

Colin Young has elaborated on this criticism by noting that most anti-war films fail in their intentions because they assume that both war and the military structure which supports war are necessities of life. Because of this, "the concerned citizen is given no alternative to the status quo, which by actual support or by default becomes all that is conceivable" (Young 87). Such films often support a double standard in which the enemy is always evil and "our side" is always good. In many cases, such anti-war films simply utilize the traditional war genre formula in which a group of diverse individuals must become united as a team in order to survive. Thus, most anti-war films fail to address the issues which are central to the real horrors of war. As noted by Young, most anti-war films fail "to explore the morality of revenge, of patriotism itself, of the relationship between ta...

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Vietnam War & Anti-War Film. (1969, December 31). In Retrieved 02:25, July 28, 2021, from