Historically, American troops in conflict have largely been ignored or looked down upon. Granted, American troops were well received and looked up to during World War II and Operation Desert Storm. Most conflicts, however, are either overlooked by the American public or perceived in a negative light.
Two conflicts come to mind when I mention the overlooked aspect. More than thirty thousand American troops were killed during the Korean War, but the Korean War was quickly overshadowed by the Vietnam conflict. The Korean War is largely referred to as the forgotten war. The conflict in Somalia in 1993 is another example. The American public didn’t realize there was a conflict in Somalia until eighteen American troops were killed in a battle that historians describe as the most intense fighting the Army saw since Vietnam. Due to the public outcry and political pressure, the Rangers and Special Forces in Somalia were called home.
The Vietnam War, and presently the Iraq War, is an example of a war being fought on two fronts. There is one front where the United States is confronting the enemy. The other front is that of public opinion. Since the media has a great impact on public opinion, one could also argue that the second front involves the media.
The media was one of the key factors that public opinion was so negative towards the Vietnam War. Back in the sixties and seventies, the American public actually trusted the media. Not so anymore. The American public is more aware of the biased opinions that some media outlets have, and the public has tremendous avenues of cross-research including the Internet.
One example of a media outlet is that of Hollywood. Hollywood has always been somewhat political and was responsible for a lot of the positive propaganda films during the middle of the twentieth century regarding Hitler and the Cold War. Hollywood isn’t always positive, however. Recent films such as Munich, Crash, and Good Night and Good Luck seem to play on negativity, racism, and politics.
As noted by Ben Stein in his article entitled Missed Tributes, not one Hollywood bigwig during the Oscars thanked the troops in Iraq and Afghanistan for their continued sacrifices for America. Hollywood is in a good position to bring forgotten conflicts to the forefront and even glorify the American military. Lately, however, Hollywood has only focused on the negative. I can only imagine a movie that would come out describing the present Iraqi conflict. Would the movie describe the great sacrifices our military makes, or would the movie concentrate on the politics and conspiracies?
I pray that the American military is remembered for all they do, whether the public knows about the conflict or not. The media in this country needs to look beyond the politics or at least tell the good stories. Propaganda does work, whether it is negative or positive. Too much negative propaganda will only divide a country. The media, including Hollywood, is in a position to influence this country for the better, or the worst.