Preview Mode Links will not work in preview mode

Arts & Entertainment with Chris & Randall

Jun 22, 2022

Randall asserts that (US-made) Vietnam War movies nearly universally serve to exonerate US conduct in the war — a war whose purpose is only to oppress indigenous people, further colonialism, and expand empire. 


Vietnam movies discussed include: 

The Green Berets (1968)
Coming Home (1978)
The Deer Hunter (1978)
Go Tell the Spartans (1978)
Apocalypse Now (1979)
First Blood (1982)
Platoon (1986)
Good Morning; Vietnam (1987)
Hamburger Hill (1987)
Gardens of Stone (1987)
Full Metal Jacket (1987)
Hanoi Hilton (1987)
Born on the Fourth of july (1989)
Casualties of War (1989)
We Were Soldiers (2002)
Rescue Dawn (2006)


Topics discussed include:

US empire building
The Phoenix Program
What would a good Vietnam movie be like? 
The CIA as an outgrowth of Nazi intelligence
Reinhard Gehlen
Operation Paperclip
Mỹ Lai massacre
Wannsee Conference
Côn Đảo Prison
Zero Dark Thirty (2012)
American Sniper (2014)
The Card Counter (2021)
Top Gun: Maverick (2022)
Bertolt Brecht's distancing effect
wars run by the CIA
Missing (1982)
Paths of Glory (1957)



Quotes from this show:

I would call it a moral get out of jail free card because if every soldier in every war is really just an innocent chap who accidentally signed up for the wrong thing and now got stuck with a bunch of bullies who don't know any better, it really reduces the entire nation's moral culpability in a war because now it's just a bunch of good guys and bullies. —Chris

These movies are trying to excuse the US' behavior in Vietnam. —Randall

We gotta do bad things because the people we're fighting do bad things. You can literally justify anything with that moral equivalency. There's no point in having law, order, civility, or even a Geneva Convention if you're just going to tell hero stories. —Chris

Our hero has the right to morally transgress because the villain is always so bad that the rules of civility exempts our hero from having any rules of civility. —Chris

The CIA is the missing character in a lot of these movies. —Chris

Every other kind of genre there's a moment of catharsis and realization that you can be a better person, but you can't do that with a country. You can't tell a story about a nation becoming a better person. Every time you make a war movie you're always going to end up with this false pat on the back. —Chris

Is there anything the US could do that the US people would be ashamed of? —Randall

Almost every one of our war movies are in some sense a perverse rationalization for violence. —Chris

Why are they made at all? They're glorifications of going to war. —Randall


Background reading:

How to Hide an Empire: A History of the Greater United States by Daniel Immerwahr

The Phoenix Program: America's Use of Terror in Vietnam by Douglas Valentine

The CIA as Organized Crime: How Illegal Operations Corrupt America and the World by Douglas Valentine 

Nemesis: The Last Days of the American Republic by Chalmers Johnson

A True History of the United States: Indigenous Genocide, Racialized Slavery, Hyper-Capitalism, Militarist Imperialism and Other Overlooked Aspects of American Exceptionalism by Daniel Sjursen


recorded June 12, 2022


Visit us at