The media is said to assume a dichotomous coverage of the war where the conflicting sides are portrayed either as good/evil, innocent/guilty, heroic/despotic, united/fragmented and other descriptions that tends to put one side on the positive light and assassinate the character of the other. (Martin, 1993)
This paper seeks to analyze the film Jarhead with regards to the way it represents war. I will be laying out the relevant concepts by providing a historical context thru the use of two other films namely Platoon and the Green Berets. I will then proceed into a contextual analysis of the Jarhead film and illustrate its significance thru the application of the audience theory. It is hoped that this paper could show how the media can affect the psyche of the audience with regards to war and conflict.
According to Martin and Pedro (2006), author of the book Rethinking Global Security: Media, Popular Culture, and the War on Terror, the utilization of the media for the war effort has been one of the focus of PSYOPS which is an integral part of modern military affairs. This can come in the form of using printed leaflets, radio and television broadcast and even internet press release all of which try to persuade enemy combatants to surrender peacefully and avoid further harm. The use of the media is not directed towards enemy combatants alone, they are also directed towards the populace of the projected protagonist side.
Slater (1991) relates that military officials have long recognized the benefits of using the film industry to influence public opinion due to its wide reach and popularity. In the United States, the Pentagon has a special department called film liaison office that works with Hollywood in making war movies. The relationship is as follows: Hollywood gets to use military equipment such as tanks, helicopters, aircraft carriers, troops and even live munitions for free. In return, the Pentagon is given the right to approve the script and edit it so that the U.S. military is portrayed in a positive light while the enemies are depicted as evil and abusive. The relationship has other uses as well such as propaganda for recruitment. Martin and Pedro (2006) observe that the military "know that when positive images are portrayed in movies and television shows, they see huge spikes in recruitment. The military is really pressing to get into these pictures".
2.2 The Green Beret and the Vietnam War
One perfect example of how the military establishment and the film industry worked together for propaganda purposes was in the film The Green Berets which was a cinematic portrayal of the lives of U.S. soldiers during the Vietnam War. The cinematic treatment of the Vietnam War took time to develop because American society was very sensitive about the discussing the war which created deep divisions, exhausted the treasury and sacrificed many of its soldiers but ultimately resulted to their defeat in spite of numerous successful military campaigns. It does not mean, however, that there was no film produced during the war. (Studlar and Desser, 1990)
The Green Berets (1968) was the only film addressing the Vietnam War produced while the war occurred. The film was directed by and starred John Wayne,