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[P]
'Black Hawk Down' rewrites history

By drquick in Media
Tue Jan 22, 2002 at 06:51:06 PM EST
Tags: Movies (all tags)
Movies

A new popular film describes the war in Somalia fought by American and Malaysian troops. Americans are of course the heroes in the film.

A BBC article claims the film rewrites history. BBC correspondent Yusuf Hassan says about the Somali combatants: "Many of them were just people in the neighbourhood who got caught up in this fire and were trying to defend their homes, as they thought they were under attack,"


American troops entered Somalia on a UN mandate to secure food aid and stop a civil war to break out anew. Stories of murder and torture by Canadian "peacekeepers" appeared in the Canadian press. Soon the troops came into conflict with one Somali clan lead by Farah Aideed. As a result of this some helicopters were shot down and a rescue operation was started for the crew. In the cause of this operation Somalis not supportive of Aideed were drawn into combat and killed several Americans.

The film gives another story. Vicious fanatics seek to hurt America and are taught a lesson. Canadian troops and the fighting done by the Malaysians is ignored, just as allied troops were ignored in 'Private Ryan'. "I think the [US] army wanted this film to be made because of the misconception that it [the military campaign] was a fiasco," said Ridley Scott, director of the film.

The question is, are Hollywood producers routinely distorting history just glorify America or is there a more sinister planned agenda of changing public attitudes and opinions? Are the lies in 'Black Hawk Down' prompted by purely commercial motives i.e. to flatter Americans or are audiences brainwashed to see American troops in a different - more positive - light?

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Poll
Why are Hollywood's films not factually correct ?
o Hollywood's too dumb to know, lazy and has to make films fast. 11%
o Errors are calculated. Producers try to maximize profits and flatter audiences. 60%
o Directors just reveal their personal opinions and want to "better" history 6%
o Someone wants to target audiences and brainwash them. 6%
o Don't think! If you want to keep your job in Hollywood, just lie as ordered! 12%
o Extensive research is made before every film. They are actually very true to facts. 2%

Votes: 205
Results | Other Polls

Related Links
o BBC
o conflict
o Also by drquick


Display: Sort:
'Black Hawk Down' rewrites history | 180 comments (169 topical, 11 editorial, 0 hidden)
Hollywood... (3.50 / 4) (#1)
by Gawyn on Tue Jan 22, 2002 at 07:23:56 AM EST

I think in general, Hollywood doesn't give a damn about truth or morals, they just want to get the largest possible audience to make as much money as possible. Truth most often gets in the way of a good story, and therefore must be ignored when necessary. Or, more appropriately, truth must be listened to only when it cannot possibly be ignored.

Sure, the movie was inaccurate on a lot of points, as anyone who knows that incident can tell you. However, that didn't stop it from being a good way to spend two and a half hours.

As I've read on slashdot, many people there think it was only a quick way to cash in on the current patriotism craze, but it's honoring the soldiers who fought, and that's something that's almost never done in this country, and certainly not by the masses.

Gawyn
-- Error: .sig not found. Replace user and try again.
Right, but it has a political significance (2.66 / 6) (#7)
by drquick on Tue Jan 22, 2002 at 07:58:02 AM EST

You are probably right. But the film doesn't honor the men who fought on the other side. The fathers and brothers who just defended their homes. Somewhere between 500 and 1,000 Somalians were killed in a massacre and the film just portrays them as villain's.

The real point is that it really isn't just entertainment. Even if the makers of the film think so. With all commercial and entertainment intentions it still is propaganda - inadvertently. Since this has a real impact on society I'd like to see a debate on who is at the rudder of the ship. Possibly no one is - as you suggest - but it doesn't please me.

[ Parent ]

Defended? (3.33 / 3) (#8)
by holdfast on Tue Jan 22, 2002 at 08:07:30 AM EST

just defended their homes
The trouble is, that is not what they did. Whatever some people choose to believe, soldiers went there to try and help them. They were not seeking OBL or any other bunch of 'bad guys'. The country had collapsed and some people recognised their moral duty to do something.
When they were attacked by 'General' Aideed, they left. It is still a world shame but we have been shown what will happen when people try and help.

"Holy war is an oxymoron."
Lazarus Long
[ Parent ]
Ok, you dont read the links (3.25 / 4) (#20)
by drquick on Tue Jan 22, 2002 at 09:07:51 AM EST

And I should have known. No one really reads the links...
I'll quote one snippet to show what the film omits
An article by the former Independent correspondent Richard Dowden (not to be confused with Mark Bowden) the previous year makes the clear point that U.S. troops killed unarmed men, women and children from the outset of their mission: 'In one incident, Rangers took a family hostage. When one of the women started screaming at the Americans, she was shot dead. In another incident, a Somali prisoner was allegedly shot dead when he refused to stop praying outside. Another was clubbed into silence. The killer is not identified.'"


[ Parent ]
Actually, I did read that. (3.50 / 2) (#28)
by porkchop_d_clown on Tue Jan 22, 2002 at 09:56:45 AM EST

But since it contradicts everything I have heard up to this point, I'm somewhat skeptical. I'd need independant verification from other sources before I swallowed the Independent's story whole.



People who think "clown" is an insult have never met any.
[ Parent ]
Your research skills need help. (4.00 / 2) (#44)
by FcD on Tue Jan 22, 2002 at 11:46:48 AM EST

The original Economist article by Richard Dowden can be found here. Dowden is paraphrasing Mark Bowden's original articles on the raid. Bowden omitted these allegations from his final copy of the book, indicating that he no longer stands behind his account.

Everything comes from Bowden. Dowden's quote is circulated because people like his phrasing. Bowden backs off the allegations, but Dowden's copy still stands because it's a review of Bowden's original work.

This reminds me of the commercial they used to play on children's television when I was growing up: "If you tell one lie, it leads to another..." Someone lied to Mark Bowden. Mark Bowden repeated it. Richard Dowden repeated it. And now the whole world is repeating it. Shame on the world, when the facts are available.

[ Parent ]

So do yours.. (4.00 / 1) (#65)
by Danse on Tue Jan 22, 2002 at 01:32:00 PM EST

Where are the links? You criticize him, but then you do nothing but offer more unsubstantiated claims. I have never heard that Bowden backed off of the allegations. I just heard that he decided (possibly at the request of his publisher) not to include them in the book.






An honest debate between Bush and Kerry
[ Parent ]
So we agree on the facts, then. (3.00 / 1) (#75)
by FcD on Tue Jan 22, 2002 at 02:22:01 PM EST

I have never heard that Bowden backed off of the allegations. I just heard that he decided (possibly at the request of his publisher) not to include them in the book.
Now, does this not indicate to you that the report of the incident could not be substantiated? I mean, why would a publisher withhold publication of sensational allegations if there was solid evidence to back them up? That doesn't make any sense!

(Unless you believe that the publishing house is controlled by the vast military-industrial-Zionist-Vatican conspiracy. In which case I doubt any amount of research or facts would satisfy you.)

[ Parent ]

umm.. (3.00 / 1) (#81)
by Danse on Tue Jan 22, 2002 at 02:43:38 PM EST

I mean, why would a publisher withhold publication of sensational allegations if there was solid evidence to back them up? That doesn't make any sense!

Sure it does. For the same reason that they wouldn't want to include it in the movie. It's not what people want to see (or read). The publisher wants to sell more books. They want the story of the heroic Americans. They don't want to include anything that compromises that image. But like I said, if you can show me someplace where Bowden actually says that he can't back up the statements, then I'll gladly reconsider my position.






An honest debate between Bush and Kerry
[ Parent ]
The statement you're looking for (4.50 / 2) (#107)
by rantweasel on Tue Jan 22, 2002 at 08:18:44 PM EST

It's been a while since I read Bowden's book, but he does mention (I belive in the forward, but it may be endnotes) that there are some statements of fact that have changed between the series of articles and the book, due to new evidence or a lack of evidence, etc. He gives examples, and that may cover this. I would point out that some of the civilian deaths, at least as told by Bowden, are confusing to say the least - there is a story related of a woman carrying a baby and a gun, shooting at the convoy. According to the Rangers, both the woman and the baby were killed. Say what you will about rules of engagement or war crimes, but how can you tell a soldier not to shoot back in that case? And if a soldier does shoot back, how can you defend shooting a baby? The situation is just plain wrong no matter what...

mathias

[ Parent ]
That's not a news article (3.50 / 2) (#55)
by wiredog on Tue Jan 22, 2002 at 12:40:08 PM EST

It's an op-ed commentary. And the author has perfected the art of leaping to conclusions without presenting any supporting those conclusions, or allowing for alternate explanations. Which is what makes it an op-ed piece, rather than reporting.

Peoples Front To Reunite Gondwanaland: "Stop the Laurasian Separatist Movement!"
[ Parent ]
What?! (4.00 / 1) (#62)
by Danse on Tue Jan 22, 2002 at 01:23:11 PM EST

They were not seeking OBL or any other bunch of 'bad guys'. The country had collapsed and some people recognised their moral duty to do something. When they were attacked by 'General' Aideed, they left.

What the hell are you talking about? They were attempting to capture Aideed when the incident happened! They didn't leave until after the incident when the US government decided to pull them out because the public wouldn't support a conflict in which US soldiers get killed and dragged through the street.






An honest debate between Bush and Kerry
[ Parent ]
I'm dumb. (4.50 / 2) (#9)
by scanman on Tue Jan 22, 2002 at 08:08:05 AM EST

Could someone just briefly outline what actually happened? I'm all confused now.

"[You are] a narrow-minded moron [and] a complete loser." - David Quartz
"scanman: The moron." - ucblockhead
"I prefer the term 'lifeskills impaired'" - Inoshiro

[ Parent ]

Ditto. (4.75 / 4) (#29)
by porkchop_d_clown on Tue Jan 22, 2002 at 09:57:32 AM EST

I mean, until this movie thing came out I was under the impression that this was a low-level screw up by US forces and was completely unaware of any casualties on the other side. Now people are saying anywhere from 300-1000 somalis were killed? Personally, if a group of foreigners dropped into my neighborhood and shot up the place, I'd be first in line to start shooting back.....



People who think "clown" is an insult have never met any.
[ Parent ]
Gettysburg in early July (4.00 / 1) (#104)
by cam on Tue Jan 22, 2002 at 08:00:45 PM EST

But it's honoring the soldiers who fought, and that's something that's almost never done in this country, and certainly not by the masses.

Garbage I dont beleive that for a second, I have been to Gettysburg on anniversary of the battle, it was packed, not only with tourists, amateur historians and re-enactors. I dont beleive the above statement for a second. Do a search on the web for sites related to the US's martial history, they are numerous and deservedly so.

On the NFL during the play offs, every 5 minutes I have seen an NFL player thank the US forces overseas. I watched the trumpeter in Arizona during the baseball play God Bless America, which included the Servicemen Overseas.

When the Gulf War was on, I was working in Wollongong, I was 19 at the time, myself and the others there were concerned that the war would escalate and Australia would be asked to increase it's presence. We were a little shy of conscriptable age, but my father was conscripted for Vietnam as a national serviceman, so wasnt far fetched that it would happen again.

Staying with us in Wollongong was a young bloke from Wisconsin, even though we though it America's war and were somewhat flippant about it day to-day, he was interested and got annoyed without attitude, his reason was he had mates that were likely involved. There are a lot of Americans who have served or are currently serving, I dont think the masses are unaware at all of their servicemen and women.

In my own case I spend a lot of my time on a site that covers an obscure part of Australian WWI martial history, www.australianflyingcorps.org. America has it's own way of celebrating their veterans.



cam
Freedom, Liberty, Equity and an Australian Republic
[ Parent ]

Yeah, we're like that now (2.00 / 1) (#112)
by Your Mom on Tue Jan 22, 2002 at 09:56:24 PM EST

But things are rarely this good for the average US servicemen. And even now, we have many people who say things like this. Us Americans can get all riled up pretty easily. But give this wave a newfound patriotism a few months, and we'll see where we end up.

--
"As far as I'm concerned, Osama bin Laden can eat a dick." -trhurler
[ Parent ]
No mass conspiracy (3.42 / 7) (#2)
by nobbystyles on Tue Jan 22, 2002 at 07:27:44 AM EST

Just that films about American soldiers put bums on seats in Middle America better than ones about British or other foreign soldiers. I mean how can joe six pack really empathise with bunch of funny accented foreigners....

Good example of this is U-571 which was based on a real life British raid on a U boat to get the Enigma codes. The directors felt that rewriting history to what should have happenned ie: an American raid, they were fulfilling their duty to the American public...



Rewriting history (4.60 / 5) (#5)
by twodot72 on Tue Jan 22, 2002 at 07:55:15 AM EST

I agree, it's most probably done for purely commercial reasons. However, I still do think it's questionable behaviour to misrepresent actual historical events like that. Especially as we often don't get to know how history has been rewritten in a movie, and considering the great impact hollywood actually can have on peoples' minds and moods.

Sure, it's just entertainment. But, I think people are actually more likely to remember what they've seen in a good movie than what they read in a history book (not to mention that most people go to the movies much more often than they read history books). At least that is true for myself.

As a side note, I remember that when I was a kid, I was told how "in Soviet they rewrite the history books to make themselves look better". Of course, now I know that everybody does that, at least to some extent.

[ Parent ]

They rewrite history (3.33 / 3) (#12)
by nobbystyles on Tue Jan 22, 2002 at 08:27:56 AM EST

All the time in the UK. It's just they don't make multi-million dollar films about it.



[ Parent ]
Yeah! (4.81 / 11) (#16)
by FredBloggs on Tue Jan 22, 2002 at 08:40:11 AM EST

I`m still waiting for the Daily Mail approved version of Bloody Sunday, where the hordes of baby eating Catholics storm the police station with guns and bombs, and are single handedly defeated by a single,good looking policeman with a pretty wife and 2 children.

[ Parent ]
Thank you (none / 0) (#49)
by /dev/niall on Tue Jan 22, 2002 at 11:56:39 AM EST

This has to be one of the most enjoyable comments I've ever seen on K5. Thank you.

[ Parent ]
Erm.... (3.66 / 12) (#3)
by AmberEyes on Tue Jan 22, 2002 at 07:42:27 AM EST

It's a movie. It's not supposed to be History 101. It's just a movie.

Pick up a book about the Somalian incident if you want to read about the history behind it. Pick up a book about the Titanic, compiled from the accounts of survivors if you want to learn about it. Pick up a book about the breaking of the Enigma Cipher if you want to learn about it.

It's fairly stupid to complain that a movie, which is designed to appeal to people, isn't factual. Movies like Black Hawk Down, Titanic, and U-571 aren't supposed to be historically accurate. They're supposed to appeal to people.

Sometimes, the pure truth just isn't entertaining. That's why people tend to embellish stories. Would my fiancee go to a movie to see the truthful history of the KKK? Doubtful. But she'll watch Ghosts of Mississippi with me. Why? Because it's a movie. She's not stupid -- she just realizes that sometimes, it's fun to sit back and be entertained.

There's nothing sinister going on here. It's not a vast American conspiracy. It's just a movie. Repeat: It's just a movie. The books, the internet, factual sources...they aren't going anywhere, and the people who want to learn the "truth" can pick them up and read them whenever they want.

-AmberEyes


"But you [AmberEyes] have never admitted defeat your entire life, so why should you start now. It seems the only perfect human being since Jesus Christ himself is in our presence." -my Uncle Dean
Dear Mr. Eyes (3.00 / 5) (#6)
by SouperMan on Tue Jan 22, 2002 at 07:56:30 AM EST

Of course, you are thinking that moving pictures are not supposed to be historically acurate. Why in that case, would the American moving picture producers pick a topic based on a historical incident, only to be completly ignoring the actual events?

I am thinking that perhaps they should have,

  1. Completly made up a fiction film, and reported it as being fiction
    or
  2. Told the true story
I am thinking that fictional moving pictures should not be sold as based on real events.


Is it a bird? Is it a plane? No It's Souperman!
[ Parent ]
Actual Event Not Ignored (4.37 / 8) (#11)
by mech9t8 on Tue Jan 22, 2002 at 08:25:29 AM EST

Why in that case, would the American moving picture producers pick a topic based on a historical incident, only to be completly ignoring the actual events?

Well, firstly, in the case of Black Hawk Down, "completely ignoring" is far too harsh. It minimized certain aspects.

Why?

Because the purpose, beyond entertainment, is to capture the feel of a particular perspective of an actual event.

A movie cannot completely cover all perspectives of a historical event without losing the immediacy of the situation, without feeling like a documentary. This movie is not intended to be an overview of the historical situation - it's intended to capture how the American soldiers felt like in this situation - how they felt as they were trapped, how their buddies felt as they went to rescue them.

So, yes, the Malaysian role is probably minimized. (Although the BBC article makes it sound like the Malaysians were solely responsible for the rescue, which is false - it was a joint effort.) Perhaps one day someone will make a film from the Malaysian perspective which will highlight their role.

As for the role of the Somalis, apparently the movie depicts the Somalis as wave after wave of militiamen. This is far different from what the soldiers percieved, which was hordes of militiamen mixed with civilians, including women and children, some of them holding up their children as shields as they fired machine guns. It would be impossible to actually depict *that* situation without devoting the whole film to trying to understand their motivations. Perhaps one day someone will make a film from the Somali perspective that will cast light on that. But in a film from the American soldier's perspective, casting the Somalis as a lot of evil soldiers is actually a more favourable depiction than what the Americans really perceived, which was that every man and woman in the city was trying to kill them.

--
IMHO
[ Parent ]

Historical fiction... (3.00 / 3) (#19)
by seebs on Tue Jan 22, 2002 at 09:06:45 AM EST

I take it "historical fiction" is not a genre you're interested in?

Note the word "fiction".


[ Parent ]
Dear Ms. Seebs (3.50 / 2) (#24)
by SouperMan on Tue Jan 22, 2002 at 09:31:32 AM EST

I am takeing it that by historical fiction, you are meaning a fictional story, set in a well known historical period.

As opposed to re-writing things the way we would have liked it to be happening, releasing it as "being based on historical events" and confusing it in many persons minds about what the actual events were that occured.

Myself I am being prefering the former. It appears that you are having little regard for what actually happened, and are wishing to be seeing a happy happy joy joy rah rah rah flag waving edition of event instead, gladly you will be replacing the real events in your mind with the we're being so great version.


Is it a bird? Is it a plane? No It's Souperman!
[ Parent ]

But it does affect people (4.75 / 8) (#10)
by Mike Hearn on Tue Jan 22, 2002 at 08:15:48 AM EST

Look at it like this: how many people have an intimate historical knowledge of that particular incident in Somalia? Not that many I'd bet, ditto for U-571.

So when people see films that purport to be about a historical incident and they have no prior knowledge of that event, they will naturally absorb some of the information in the film as truth, even when they know that perhaps the directors have altered it a bit in the name of "artistic license".

U-571 was controversial, because it rewrote history while still purporting to be an historical film. By pandering to American patriotism, they insulted the families of those who really did board the U-Boat, and really did perform those acts.

I for one do not tolerate people who rewrite history and then tout it as fact, not even in the name of entertainment. Especially where war history is concerned, fact should be fact, and fiction should be fiction.

thanks -mike

[ Parent ]
There are 10,000 people in the movie. (1.50 / 2) (#38)
by FcD on Tue Jan 22, 2002 at 11:09:44 AM EST

Each of them has a story about what happened during the fight. Recreating the whole thing "factually" as you say would take about 1 year of movie per hour of actual event.

Let them cut. Please, make them cut. The story remains true to what happened. People are complaining about omitted points of view, not altered facts.

[ Parent ]

Actually... (4.00 / 1) (#60)
by Danse on Tue Jan 22, 2002 at 01:14:54 PM EST

People are complaining about both. You don't need to film from the point of view of all 10K people. You need to know what happened based on which pieces of information are corroborated by multiple sources. If you're not going to make the film adhere to the facts, the don't make the claim that it's based on a true story. Just make a fictional film and leave it at that. Leaving things out that you don't want to deal with is just as bad as adding things in that didn't really happen. It happened with the book, and it happened with the movie.






An honest debate between Bush and Kerry
[ Parent ]
"Based On True Story" != PC (3.00 / 1) (#69)
by FcD on Tue Jan 22, 2002 at 02:01:34 PM EST

In a "true story", the events depicted actually happened. That doesn't mean that the story's interpretation of these events is universally-accepted gospel; all "sides" need not be portrayed. This is a story and not a textbook.

Your assertion that "You don't need to film from the point of view of all 10K people" simply cannot be reconciled with your view that "Leaving things out that you don't want to deal with is just as bad as adding things in that didn't really happen." What you are probably saying is that some facts can be overlooked but others cannot. This makes the final cut a judgement call, and apparently you disagree with the director's (and author's) judgement in this instance.

Perhaps you might cite specific examples of disagreement rather than claiming illegitimately the sanctified high ground of "Truth".

[ Parent ]

Sigh.. (3.00 / 2) (#73)
by Danse on Tue Jan 22, 2002 at 02:12:56 PM EST

If it was a "story", then they should just come out and say that instead of trying to tell us that it's the truth. The words "truth" or "true" should not be associated with the movie.

What you are probably saying is that some facts can be overlooked but others cannot.

No, that's not what I was saying. What I was saying is that you take what can be established as truth and use that. You don't just use the pieces that you like. You don't change the pieces that you don't like. You take the good with the bad and try to present things as they happened. For those things that can't be determined, then sure, you may have to fill in the blanks, but that's not what happened with the book or movie. They simply left out the facts that they didn't like.






An honest debate between Bush and Kerry
[ Parent ]
You're Trolling, right? <NT> (1.00 / 2) (#76)
by FcD on Tue Jan 22, 2002 at 02:25:27 PM EST



[ Parent ]
Absolutely not. Are you?<NT> (1.00 / 2) (#83)
by Danse on Tue Jan 22, 2002 at 02:47:00 PM EST






An honest debate between Bush and Kerry
[ Parent ]
"It's just a film" is not an excuse (3.62 / 8) (#17)
by zakalwe on Tue Jan 22, 2002 at 08:40:31 AM EST

The moviemakers for these films you mention have explicitely said they are basing their story on actual history. They do this because that way they can cash in on the notion that this is somehow real - that what you are seeing actually happened. I have no objection to someone making a film about a ship that sinks, or a fictional war - but if they start trying to imply that they are telling a real story then they should expect to be held to the same standard as other media that do the same. The BBC is entirely right to point out lies in a film claiming to be "based on" real events.

For another perspective, here's a relevant link to an essay by Guy Gavriel Kay (excellent author BTW) about his objections to films like this.

[ Parent ]

Broken link (5.00 / 2) (#33)
by spiralx on Tue Jan 22, 2002 at 10:15:51 AM EST

Try the google cache instead.

You're doomed, I'm doomed, we're all doomed for ice cream. - Bob Aboey
[ Parent ]

Yar, indeed! Historical nonfiction == bad plan (4.00 / 1) (#110)
by rantweasel on Tue Jan 22, 2002 at 08:28:15 PM EST

I am planning on seeing the movie anyway, because I'd like to see how close it came to Bowden's book. I suspect that it will either suck, or suffer the problem that nearly all movie adaptations of books share - too much information to fit into a 2-3 hour movie. The book that the movie is based on is quite good, and relatively unbiased. The movie, on the other hand, can't possibly contain (or deal with) the political and military analysis, the hindsight contained in interviews with the combatants of both sides, media lies that sprouted in the aftermath, etc. Your suggestion that movies "based on" historical events should be held to the same standard as other media is dead on - either fictionalize it completely, or tell the whole truth.

mathias

[ Parent ]
Ethics of film makers. (4.33 / 3) (#56)
by Tezcatlipoca on Tue Jan 22, 2002 at 12:46:15 PM EST

Fortunately most filmakers in democratic countries have little or no interference in how they treat any subject in their films.

Nevertheless I find terribly unethical to twitch history just to please ignorant cinema goers. If one is going to approach an historical theme it does not make any sense to get rid of all the background one is trying to replicate just to get a cheap cheer from the pseudo-patriotic zealots.

At least they could put a warning at the beginning stating clearly that all is a work of fiction.

If Hollywood filmakers believe that stating that the US did everything first and better and when there was failure it was a gracious one, so be it, but that does not mean other people, specially out of the US, have to agree with that way of making movies. I can think just out of my head of several countries (meaning goverments) that have been ofended one way or the other by obvious innacuracies and prejudices in Hollywood films.

When filmakers decide to look at situations surrounded by an accurate historic background, normaly movies gain far more than what they loose for not having a character or situation that is a sheep-crowd pleaser and nothing else.



---
Those who sleep can't sin.
Those who sin, sleep well.

[ Parent ]
Hugs for all! (4.37 / 16) (#4)
by duxup on Tue Jan 22, 2002 at 07:44:55 AM EST

I'm usually upset when movies are historically inaccurate, but I think the criticism here is stretching things a bit far. The movie seems to be about the soldiers involved in a particular incident in Somalia. It's not a portrayal of the entire war and thus isn't obligated to go into detail and give hugs to everyone who might have been directly or indirectly involved to make them feel special. If the portrayal of the soldiers is accurate, I'd say the movie did it's job.

Reading the BBC article I'm reminded of an episode of The Family Guy where someone makes a negative comment about a particular Native American. The show is then paused while they stop to say something nice about all Native Americans. Then someone mentions something distantly related to Poland (or something like that). The show again stops while they say something nice about all Polish people. The pattern then repeats.

Which reminds me of Vietnam... (2.71 / 7) (#13)
by inerte on Tue Jan 22, 2002 at 08:35:57 AM EST

... and how in Hollywood north-americans are always heroes and victorious on almost any mission!

Oh well, who from there (USA) wants to see their soldiers running from a battlefield. You guys are so patriotic (don't get me wrong! It's a good thing!) that you deny history. I guess the patriotic spirit sells more (in the end, middle, and begin, movie studios are trying to do this).

I once heard, sorry I forgot the author, USA doesn't have a cross. (sp?, cross is that thing were Jesus got crucified). Oh well, at least the other religious countries have a ultimate simbol of their devotion. In USA, most people (never generalize too much, Arguments 101) doesn't have this symbol. So you turned your flag into this symbol, this representation of beliefs and religion is a 'national' symbol too.

It's nice to be patriotic (repeating so people won't think I am trolling ;-) but sometimes north-americans get way too far with it.

Yes, it's just a movie. But it's also what people want to see. People want to see their soldiers doing fine on wars? Fine, as long as in school actual facts are teached. And in such a massive culture impressed country like USA, where the entertaiment production is so abundant that the entire world absorves it, you see 1000 times a north-american winning and 1 time in class (boooooring) they losing, you know what remains inside most people heads.

Oh well, just a small ranting. I will give this article +1 section because it belongs to current discussion, and the kind of things that you will (and we from Brazil, and them from the rest of the world) see for the next years. Norh-american playing hero and keeping peace all over the Earth.

Good or bad, I don't know if it will be. But that this is going to define what a lot of people will see in the next years when they look for fun. So that's my +1 for you ;-)

Vietnam movies (4.71 / 7) (#23)
by wiredog on Tue Jan 22, 2002 at 09:29:50 AM EST

in Hollywood north-americans are always heroes and victorious on almost any mission

The two most popular Vietnam movies, and the only ones (IIRC) that got Academy Awards were Apocalypse Now and Platoon. In neither of those are the Americans victorious heroes. Far from it. The Americans, and America, in those movies are deeply flawed. Both are excellent.

I'm not sure which version of Apocalypse Now I prefer. May have to "roll my own" after the Redux version comes out on DVD. It has a much expanded battle scene with the cavalry, which is very good, but the French Plantation scene is unneccessary. Still an excellent war movie.

Peoples Front To Reunite Gondwanaland: "Stop the Laurasian Separatist Movement!"
[ Parent ]

Apocalypse Now (none / 0) (#89)
by MrYotsuya on Tue Jan 22, 2002 at 03:49:49 PM EST

Thanks for pointing out the movies, they are both excellent. Do you think a movie critical of the american military could be made without the military's help?

[ Parent ]
Well (4.00 / 1) (#95)
by wiredog on Tue Jan 22, 2002 at 05:48:28 PM EST

Both Apocalypse Now and Platoon were made without help from the US military.

But one of the producers of Black Hawk Down said that, without help from the US Army, it would have been "Black Huey Down"

Peoples Front To Reunite Gondwanaland: "Stop the Laurasian Separatist Movement!"
[ Parent ]

One or two more to see (5.00 / 1) (#164)
by Miniluv on Thu Jan 24, 2002 at 06:11:24 PM EST

If you're looking for "honest" looks at the Vietnam war in particular you might try "Heaven & Earth" despite it being made by Oliver Stone.

There's also the remainder of his Vietnam movies (Born on the 4th of July, etc.) which are all fairly honest (as far as I can tell, though I've not done in depth research) about the views they take of the events around Vietnam.

While not set directly in Vietnam, covering the events of the time period is the "Killing Fields" which is a true story and is openly endorsed by the man whose story it tells. Perhaps he lied, but if so he's at least consistent about it.


Some things are holy, and the sauna is one of them
[ Parent ]

victorious on every mission? (4.40 / 5) (#26)
by porkchop_d_clown on Tue Jan 22, 2002 at 09:50:47 AM EST

... and how in Hollywood north-americans are always heroes and victorious on almost any mission!

Actually, they were. That was the big lesson of Viet Nam - we won every battle, our casualty rates were, what, 10% of what the VC's was, and we still managed to lose the war - because, in the end, we weren't offering the vietnamese anything better than what the VC were - corruption, oppression, being the play things of a foreign power, etc...

Hopefully, we won't make that mistake in Afganistan.



People who think "clown" is an insult have never met any.
[ Parent ]
Hollywood treating their audience as dupes (4.50 / 2) (#100)
by cam on Tue Jan 22, 2002 at 07:32:19 PM EST

>Oh well, who from there (USA) wants to see
>their soldiers running from a battlefield.

I think Hollywood treats it's audience for war films as infants. Most US war films are flag waving affairs with the red, white and blue appearing more often than Khaki. It trivialises the real people they are based on by caricaturing them. Watch the History Channels show on the Black Sheep in History vs Hollywood and how the real pilots were not happy about their depiction.

The most recent which has broken with the flag waving war movie was "Band of Brothers" which did a wonderful job of humanising the members of Easy Company. They are reall people with their tales told through actors. The only US flag I recall seeing in it was when Winters rested his cheek on a truck after the Normandy landings when he was looking back on the all the fighting still going on and feeling a long way from home. It was fantastic, I hope more nations choose to document their nations martial history in such a histroical, prideful, honest, humanistic and professional manner.

It is interesting to compare other nations with the Hollywood ( I wont say American culture as American culture is very differant to Disney or Hollywood culture ) manner of representing war. One of the best Australian films is "The Lighthorsemen". It depicts a group of Australian Lighthorse mates in Palestine in WWI. The film culminates with the last successful cavalry charge at Beersheba. The movie takes the time to humanise the Turks ( as Band of Brothers does the Germans ).

Most interestingly the main character is a poor soldier, who shows courage but not in combat. He is put in a Medical unit, where he can show his courage in a non-combat environment, his mates are still his mates despite his unfitness for battle. In one of the final scenes, he dives on a grenade to save one of his wounded mates from death. It is based on a real story.

Other better known Australian films on Australian martial history are "Gallipoli" with a very young Mel Gibson. Again the mateship bond is the dominant theme. In Australian, ANZAC Day is the main celebrated holiday, it is based around the day the ANZAC troops landed on the shores of Gallipoli, a place where the Turks eventually forced the Australians, New Zealanders, British, French and Indian troops to abandon their beachheads.

It was the first occasion that Australian culture was placed under the extreme stress of combat and the Australian despite the conditions, over-achieved often and did their new nation proud. One of the Australian cultural attributes that was displayed in those conditions was the mateship bond. It is no wonder that the Australian war films celebrate this. Even in WWII, Australians celebrate campaigns where Australians were placed under extremem duress and deprivations, such as the Kokoda Track and Tobruk, rather than more obvious victories like Milne Bay and Syria.

Probably the other better known films is Breaker Morant. Moant was an Englishman who emigrated to Australia, Edward Woodward playing the Breaker was wonderful. It is a juxtaposition, that the one of the 19th century Australian military figures was executed by the British for executing prisoners. Not only was the Breaker English, he and Handcock were most likely guilty as well. Didnt stop them being scapegoated though.

"The Lighthorseman" and "Band of Brothers" are the two best films on martial history I have seen. And neither required the cheap trick of gratuitous waving of a nations flag to make me feel emotive.



cam
www.australianflyingcorps.org
Freedom, Liberty, Equity and an Australian Republic
[ Parent ]

Hollywood treating their audience as dupes (4.66 / 3) (#101)
by cam on Tue Jan 22, 2002 at 07:35:22 PM EST

>Oh well, who from there (USA) wants to see
>their soldiers running from a battlefield.

I think Hollywood treats it's audience for war films as infants. Most US war films are flag waving affairs with the red, white and blue appearing more often than Khaki. It trivialises the real people they are based on by caricaturing them. Watch the History Channels show on the Black Sheep in History vs Hollywood and how the real pilots were not happy about their depiction.

The most recent which has broken with the flag waving war movie was "Band of Brothers" which did a wonderful job of humanising the members of Easy Company. They are reall people with their tales told through actors. The only US flag I recall seeing in it was when Winters rested his cheek on a truck after the Normandy landings when he was looking back on the all the fighting still going on and feeling a long way from home. It was fantastic, I hope more nations choose to document their nations martial history in such a histroical, prideful, honest, humanistic and professional manner.

It is interesting to compare other nations with the Hollywood ( I wont say American culture as American culture is very differant to Disney or Hollywood culture ) manner of representing war. One of the best Australian films is "The Lighthorsemen". It depicts a group of Australian Lighthorse mates in Palestine in WWI. The film culminates with the last successful cavalry charge at Beersheba. The movie takes the time to humanise the Turks ( as Band of Brothers does the Germans ).

Most interestingly the main character is a poor soldier, who shows courage but not in combat. He is put in a Medical unit, where he can show his courage in a non-combat environment, his mates are still his mates despite his unfitness for battle. In one of the final scenes, he dives on a grenade to save one of his wounded mates from death. It is based on a real story.

Other better known Australian films on Australian martial history are "Gallipoli" with a very young Mel Gibson. Again the mateship bond is the dominant theme. In Australian, ANZAC Day is the main celebrated holiday, it is based around the day the ANZAC troops landed on the shores of Gallipoli, a place where the Turks eventually forced the Australians, New Zealanders, British, French and Indian troops to abandon their beachheads.

It was the first occasion that Australian culture was placed under the extreme stress of combat and the Australian despite the conditions, over-achieved often and did their new nation proud. One of the Australian cultural attributes that was displayed in those conditions was the mateship bond. It is no wonder that the Australian war films celebrate this. Even in WWII, Australians celebrate campaigns where Australians were placed under extremem duress and deprivations, such as the Kokoda Track and Tobruk, rather than more obvious victories like Milne Bay and Syria.

Probably the other better known films is Breaker Morant. Moant was an Englishman who emigrated to Australia, Edward Woodward playing the Breaker was wonderful. It is a juxtaposition, that the one of the 19th century Australian military figures was executed by the British for executing prisoners. Not only was the Breaker English, he and Handcock were most likely guilty as well. Didnt stop them being scapegoated though.

"The Lighthorseman" and "Band of Brothers" are the two best films on martial history I have seen. And neither required the cheap trick of gratuitous waving of a nations flag to make me feel emotive.



cam
www.australianflyingcorps.org
Freedom, Liberty, Equity and an Australian Republic
[ Parent ]

Some background (4.64 / 17) (#14)
by wiredog on Tue Jan 22, 2002 at 08:37:16 AM EST

Somalia, 1993. Also, the Philadelphia Inquirer site, with all of the reporting that went into the book.

Canadian and Maylasian troops were not involved in the fighting depicted in the movie because, well, they weren't in that battle. They were in other parts of Mogadishu. The movie is the story of the Ranger's actions in that battle. It's a movie about a battle, not a movie about a war.

The people claiming that the movie was intended to be propaganda for the current war are ignoring the inconvienent fact that the movie was already in post-production before September 11. Filming had been completed months before that.

Final note. Some people are claiming the movie is racist because it shows mostly white American troops fighting against black militia. In so doing these people are ignoring the fact that the Somalis were black and the 75th Rangers, like the rest of the USA, were mostly non-black.

Peoples Front To Reunite Gondwanaland: "Stop the Laurasian Separatist Movement!"

I don't think it's anything sinister ... (4.00 / 12) (#15)
by joegee on Tue Jan 22, 2002 at 08:38:02 AM EST

I think it's commercial. Remember U-571, good ole America captures the Enigma machine? Except of course that Enigma was captured by the British. As I recall the British parliament was deeply upset by this film.

Somalian American groups are bashing Blackhawk over its supposed depersonalization of Somali civilians into savage killing machines. I can't stand political drama-mentories, so I'm not likely to watch this either in the theater or on video. I really can't give a critical opinion of the film itself.

Pehaps what we see in films like this is the creative license of vain directors pursuing personal glorification, à la Oliver Stone?

<sig>I always learn something on K5, sometimes in spite of myself.</sig>
Enigma was captured? (2.66 / 3) (#25)
by porkchop_d_clown on Tue Jan 22, 2002 at 09:38:43 AM EST

I know the british broke the enigma code - but did they capture machines, too?



People who think "clown" is an insult have never met any.
[ Parent ]
Twice from submarines (5.00 / 5) (#31)
by grand master thump on Tue Jan 22, 2002 at 10:08:46 AM EST

First in the North Atlantic on 9th May '41 afrom U-110 and then again on 30th Oct '43 (the u-boats had been upgraded with a more advanced enigma machine with four rotors/wheels rather than the usual three) from U-559 in the Med.

However the capture of the machines was not the important thing, machines had already been brought to the UK by the Poles (IIRC), it was the code books with the setups that provided the real coup.

Legal Tyranny provides the info.


This sig has been stolen
[ Parent ]

Errm, yes (5.00 / 4) (#32)
by spiralx on Tue Jan 22, 2002 at 10:09:14 AM EST

We found the Enigma machine on the German sub along with some other useful information, and IIRC, two of the soldiers died trying to recover more before the sub sank. Their families were not very impressed with the revisionism of U-571 as I'm sure you can imagine.

You're doomed, I'm doomed, we're all doomed for ice cream. - Bob Aboey
[ Parent ]

Enigma (4.20 / 5) (#37)
by Bad Harmony on Tue Jan 22, 2002 at 11:01:01 AM EST

The Poles (Marian Rejewski et al) broke the Enigma. The British exploited that breakthrough.

54º40' or Fight!
[ Parent ]

I know Poles did a lot of the preliminary work (none / 0) (#51)
by porkchop_d_clown on Tue Jan 22, 2002 at 12:21:22 PM EST

I'm remembering more of my history.

There were many versions of Enigma which actually existed as a commercial device before the war. IIRC, the Poles broke one of those earlier versions - which did lay the ground work for breaking the later machines.

But the efforts of the Poles were insufficient - the germans kept adding bells and whistles to the machine to make it more secure. Again, IIRC, the final version was orders of magnitude more complex than the earlier models. (BTW, having the machine itself was insufficient to break the code, BTW - there was an equivalent of a password that had to be known to decrypt communications). I'm pretty sure Alan Turing had something to do with breaking the final version of the device.

That's one of the problems with saying "Dr X was the one who broke Enigma!" Different versions were broken at different times, and the germans upgraded each time.



People who think "clown" is an insult have never met any.
[ Parent ]
Enigma History (5.00 / 1) (#77)
by Bad Harmony on Tue Jan 22, 2002 at 02:25:52 PM EST

For a good history of the cryptanalysis of the Enigma, see Gilbert Bloch's Enigma Avant Ultra. Selected chapters of the book were translated into English and published in the journal Cryptologia. These can also be found in the book Selections from Cryptologia: history, people, and technology, Cipher Deavours et al. To quote the author:
The Poles and only the Poles attempted the reconstruction and cryptanalysis of the German military Enigma. Alone, they carried out the totality of intellectual, cryptologic, and mathematical investments necessary. And they alone arrived at the solution. Chapter IV will show that they were the only ones, between 1933 and the beginning of 1939, to retain mastery over the Enigma and its decipherment. For these extraordinary exploits, the Poles must receive all of the credit and retain all of the glory.
The Poles kept up with the German military Enigma until the Germans added two additional rotors (IV & V). This increased the number of rotor permutations from 6 (3 rotors) to 60 (5 rotors). The machine was not modified, it still used three rotors, a reflecting rotor, and the plugboard. The Poles solved the wiring of the new rotors but the increased workload overwhelmed their resources. The additional rotors increased the equipment (bombes) and labor requirements by a factor of 10.

Based on the Poles work, the British attacked and exploited the Enigma. Even the British ended up needing help from the Americans to cope with the increasing workload when the Germans added a fourth rotor to the machine. See this series in the Dayton Daily News on the American bombe.

54º40' or Fight!
[ Parent ]

Thanks (none / 0) (#136)
by porkchop_d_clown on Wed Jan 23, 2002 at 09:13:20 AM EST

I'll look for the book.



People who think "clown" is an insult have never met any.
[ Parent ]
maximizing profit makes it sinister (5.00 / 1) (#96)
by ivk on Tue Jan 22, 2002 at 05:49:33 PM EST

As an European, it's insulting to see movies where all non-Americans are evil and Americans are good (like "The Patriot"). I'd say the majority of movies shown in Europe comes from Hollywood. Yeah, it's our own fault for buying such movies, but it surely affects our view of the world, as people tend to believe what they see, especially when the movie is supposed to portray real events. Lying deliberately in order to get more money sounds pretty evil to me.

Oh, but nobody knows the truth, so one can claim whatever maximizes the expected profit of the movie, right?

A lot of the people in this forum say that "It's just a movie, not reality". Compare this to the reviews at IMDB where people promote the movie as an absolutely accurate description of the events. The contrast is disturbing.

[ Parent ]

OK, it's something sinister. :) (no text) (none / 0) (#138)
by joegee on Wed Jan 23, 2002 at 09:57:15 AM EST



<sig>I always learn something on K5, sometimes in spite of myself.</sig>
[ Parent ]
history channel last night (4.73 / 26) (#18)
by westcourt monk on Tue Jan 22, 2002 at 09:00:44 AM EST

Last night from 9pm - 11pm (EST) on the History Channel in Canada they showed a BBC documentry that was produced before 1998. It was Black Hawk down - the documentry.

They showed how the Clinton administration and the UN sold out the US military - who thought they had a clear mandate until the Pakistani troops were attacked. The Italians and others had agreements with the Abidi (no clue how it was spelt but he was the biggest and baddest dude in Somalia) so that the Americans only got attacked daily.

The Army Rangers were set up, isolated, and fought brilliantly. The US didn't have any armor or proper air cover to fight a war, hence the battle. What I found most impressive is that the Army Rangers wounded where pulled out by Pakistani and Malaysian forces that had APC's and could drive in.

What a UN failure though. They allowed a UN mission to be attacked, soldiers killed, and Italy worked against other UN troops. No wonder the US and other nations pulled out of World affairs.

This program was excellent. They interviewed Somali commanders who planned the ambush on US troops and what was going through their minds. They armed children, women, elderly and told them the US was invading their country so they must fight. It was a brilliant ambush.

I do believe many of the critics are re-writing history. What do you want? Should the US and other sit back watch nations be destroyed by war? or should we assist them?

Now Somalia was a real messed up operation. It fell victim to changing political leaders accross the world and didn't have a clear political mandate. So the new leaders had no interest in it. But I think they have learned - look at the former Yogoslavia, if ever an army could take on the UN... the Serb's could have done serious damage. But the UN/NATO went in properly with a clear mandate.

Assist them? (2.80 / 5) (#46)
by t0rment on Tue Jan 22, 2002 at 11:50:53 AM EST

I do believe many of the critics are re-writing history. What do you want? Should the US and other sit back watch nations be destroyed by war? or should we assist them?
What??? Yea... i'm sure. Lets send troops in. That way we can help the country destroy itself in the name of freedom and democracy.

This maybe over simplifying but, when you have family problems you don't want your next door neighbour getting involved in your affairs, unless you specifically ask, and how many times does that happen?

Military action is not the proper course for peace. As long as some people think violence solves problems, there will always be problems, and peaceful ways of resolution will never/hardly ever work.

Peace.


. - = [ t 0 r m e n t ] = - .

Anyone can become angry--that is easy. But to be angry with the right person, to the right degree, at the right time, for the right purpose, and in the right way; this is not easy.

- Aristotle
[ Parent ]
your assumtion (2.66 / 3) (#72)
by westcourt monk on Tue Jan 22, 2002 at 02:12:34 PM EST

You assume that these troubled nations are capable of rational discussion. You can bring them flowers and they will still shoot your face off. You have to remember that many Red Cross employees died in Somalia as well... long before UN/US troops arrived. These people where not able to take of themselves.

You then have two options - help them, or (as the movie line sorta goes) you can watch them kill themselves on CNN. Helping means dealing with the situation on the most simplistic level - action first, words later.



[ Parent ]

Re: Assist them? (2.00 / 1) (#114)
by Wateshay on Tue Jan 22, 2002 at 11:09:28 PM EST

You're right, I don't want my neighbor getting involved in my affairs. On the other hand, if my neighbor is killing off his kids one by one, I'm damn well going to get involved in his affairs.

"If English was good enough for Jesus, it's good enough for everyone else."


[ Parent ]
Interesting book dealing with this. (none / 0) (#54)
by Tezcatlipoca on Tue Jan 22, 2002 at 12:39:53 PM EST

Check "Out of America", it is written by a Washington Post correspondent during those troubled years.

Although I don't agree with the conclussions of the book the first hand account of the facts would be laughable if the situation was not so tragic.
---
Those who sleep can't sin.
Those who sin, sleep well.

[ Parent ]
umm (4.00 / 1) (#155)
by Stretch on Wed Jan 23, 2002 at 05:33:43 PM EST

The US didn't have any armor or proper air cover to fight a war, hence the battle.

Previous and similar conflicts indicate armor would have been a bad, bad idea. There were hundreds, if not thousands of RPG rounds fired at the Blackhawks and Little Birds. Only 2 came down. Most analysts think both hits were pure luck. Start rolling tanks in and suddenly all those RPG rounds that, for the most part, are missing everything are now dramatically more effective versus the tanks.

As far as not having proper air support...umm, what are you on? Any man there will tell you the air suppport they did have saved them all. The little birds were the most effective at holding back the mob. What would you do? Call in the some F-16s to level entire city blocks surrounding the pinned American forces? I assure you it sounds a lot better on paper than in reality. No, there was proper air support.

What I found most impressive is that the Army Rangers wounded where pulled out by Pakistani and Malaysian forces that had APC's and could drive in

The reports I have read said the Paki vehicles were aquired, without crew (save possibly the driver) and filled with Ranger's trying to save their own. These vehicles were used because they were nearbye. If there were indeed heroic pakis and Malaysians then they deserve credit but there weren't as many as save american lives as you make it sound.

[ Parent ]
Pakistan and malaysian assistance (1.00 / 1) (#162)
by westcourt monk on Thu Jan 24, 2002 at 08:54:33 AM EST

Pakistan wasn't officially helping the Americans, but there was a number of Pakistani troops that assisted. This is according to several Pakistanis I know.

Whatever the case may actually be, tanks would have done the job. The Iraqis couldn't peirce the armour of the American tanks with shells designed to do so. I am pretty sure you need uranium tipped shells or a serious mine or missle to take out those American tanks.

Look at how effective they are in Palastine - and the Palastinians know how to take them on.

The Somali's couldn't take out an APC, I don't think they could have taken out a tank.

What it came down to is that American's over-estimated their ground forces ability in urban combat. Under-estimated the number of Somali militants, and tried to go in cowboy style.

[ Parent ]

Some other accusations (4.00 / 8) (#22)
by Rand Race on Tue Jan 22, 2002 at 09:28:30 AM EST

This story points out that the screenwriter was pressured by the Pentagon to change the name of a character whose real life counterpart is currently serving 30 years in Levenworth for child rape and assault. And this article points out a Canadian study that found rampant and brutal racism was endemic among UN troops in Somalia. Similar charges have been leveled against American Special Forces units involved in this incident specifically, units not known for their diversity.

There was no doubt that racism was an important ingredient in the crimes and a persistent component of military life in Somalia. Some of the troops had renamed Operation Restore Hope, Operation Smash Niggers.

I'll also mention that The History Channel had a two hour show on the incident that ran last night. Unfortunately I only got to see the first half hour, but in just that the fact that UN troops were absolutely despised by many Somalis came through quite clearly. They called the US commander, Admiral Jonathan Howe, "Animal" Howe. Shades of "Beast" Rabban...


"Question with boldness even the existence of God; because if there be one, He must approve the homage of Reason rather than that of blindfolded Fear." - Thomas Jefferson

the show (3.40 / 5) (#30)
by westcourt monk on Tue Jan 22, 2002 at 09:59:21 AM EST

You should watched the entire show... yes the troops where hated, but they where loved at first. The warlords spread the word of hatred and the UN troops there got blasted with it as well.

The racial hatred was a result of experience not anything else. It was no different than the racial hatred of Germans, Russians, Japanese, Koreans, Vietnamese, Afghans... etc. 'Zips in the line!' isn't exaclty race friendly.

...and it was a handful of Canadian troops, not the entire unit. You generalization is no better than the racism you point out.

[ Parent ]

Read the links you (4.00 / 6) (#43)
by Rand Race on Tue Jan 22, 2002 at 11:32:25 AM EST

The racial hatred was a result of experience not anything else.

From this one: "The committee sent investigators to 19 military bases at home and abroad, where they interviewed 2,000 randomly selected GIs. They found that overt racism was "commonplace" at four of the bases, and that inadequate training in racial awareness was a widespread problem.

Another task force, which investigated organised racism in the US Army, said the problem was particularly serious in all-white, so-called "elite" and "Special Operations" units. Such racial separatism could lead to problems, its report warned, because it "foster[s] supremacist attitudes among white combat soldiers". (The Secretary of the Army's Task Force Report on Extremist Activities, Defending American Values, 21 March 1996, Washington DC, page 15.)"

It was no different than the racial hatred of Germans, Russians, Japanese, Koreans, Vietnamese, Afghans... etc.

So? It's no different than the institutionalized racism of the old south either.

'Zips in the line!' isn't exaclty race friendly.

And it ain't exactly torture, rape, and murder.

...and it was a handful of Canadian troops, not the entire unit.

From this one: "Racism was rampant among United Nations contingents in Somalia in 1992-93 and problems associated with a scandal that rocked Canada's military were mirrored in the experience of other countries, according to a Canadian study released on Friday."

You generalization is no better than the racism you point out.

My generalization? What the fuck are you blathering about? I made no generalizations or even specific accusations, I simply pointed out links to alternate views. Arrogant ignorance like yours is no better, in fact it's one of the primary causes of, the racism that the links I provided point to.


"Question with boldness even the existence of God; because if there be one, He must approve the homage of Reason rather than that of blindfolded Fear." - Thomas Jefferson
[ Parent ]

i have seen it (3.00 / 1) (#87)
by westcourt monk on Tue Jan 22, 2002 at 03:25:17 PM EST

Well Somalia was, if nothing else, another rude awaking for the media. War is hell on earth... Somalia was a war.

What pisses me off is when people think that you can conduct yourself in the very same manner in war torn Somalia as easily as you can in Toronto. Especially soldiers.

Soldiers are trained to kill, trained to hate enough to kill, and worshiped when they do what they are trained to do. Do you think a rational person can methodically shoot a rifle at someone, eat insects, slit throats, and not sleep?

What makes the soldiers seem so evil is what keeps them alive and allows them to excuse what they do. You need them to protect you, but you don't like what they need to do in order to be effective.

Granted, Somalia was out of hand... but it was nothing new. The difference being no government will allow so much media involvement and perhaps after 9/11 less people will really care.

I was 16 at the time, and I wasn't surprised by the reports of the soldiers behaviour. I find it hard to believe people still are.



[ Parent ]

Animal Howe and charges of racism (none / 0) (#82)
by rantweasel on Tue Jan 22, 2002 at 02:45:09 PM EST

Animal Howe was the name that Aideed's propaganda crews gave to Admiral Howe, who was in fact there in a political role, not a military role. I would suggest that a less biased collection of information might lead to a clearer view of the situation. The UN and US troops, the politicians, the Somali warlords, and the Somali civilians all did stupid things and all acted badly. It doesn't excuse any of them, but it doesn't make any of the evil, either.

mathias

[ Parent ]
To clarify the situation in Somalia 1993 (2.40 / 10) (#27)
by drquick on Tue Jan 22, 2002 at 09:54:35 AM EST

...I will add something. This 'The Independent' article that tells the story of Somalia 1993. The film tells a heroic story about American soldies when the truth seems more like soldiers rushing in to save American investments, attacking and killing civilians face to face for minute reasons.

Great damage to truth is made by the film. Since no one really follows links here are few quotes from the Independent:

"United Nations mission to Somalia was, from a humanitarian viewpoint, capricious. But, citing famine ... [snip]"

"[snip] ... It didn't go well. On 7 May 1993, the Canadian press reported that elite Airborne Regiment Commandos in Somalia had tortured and murdered a civilian teenager, Shidane Arone. Other reports of murder by Canadian peacekeepers followed."

"In one incident, Rangers took a family hostage. When one of the women started screaming at the Americans, she was shot dead. In another incident, a Somali prisoner was allegedly shot dead when he refused to stop praying outside. Another was clubbed into silence. The killer is not identified."

"The American elite forces couldn't perform their central role in Somalia - to protect the oil business - because they were white racists, untrained and unable to relate to a humanitarian mission in Africa, even when corporate money was involved."

"Canada put several "elite" white soldiers, who had tortured and killed Somalis, on trial."

"... Ewan McGregor's character: elite, white GI John "Stebby" Stebbins, renamed as Company Clerk John Grimes in the film, who is now serving a 30-year sentence in Fort Leavenworth military prison for raping a 12-year-old girl. ..."



Rebuttal (4.60 / 5) (#59)
by wiredog on Tue Jan 22, 2002 at 12:52:59 PM EST

First, the piece from The Independent isn't news reporting, it's op-ed commentary. There's a difference. Second. This isn't a movie about a war, it's a movie about a battle. So, going on to snippets.

United Nations mission to Somalia was, from a humanitarian viewpoint, capricious. But, citing famine ... [snip]"
Maybe there were other reasons. The movie isn't about the reasons for being there, it's about the battle. The reasons are unimportant in that context.

"[snip] ... It didn't go well. On 7 May 1993, the Canadian press reported that elite Airborne Regiment Commandos in Somalia had tortured and murdered a civilian teenager, Shidane Arone. Other reports of murder by Canadian peacekeepers followed."
And what do the misdeeds of Canada and Canadians have to do with the battle the Rangers fought in? Were those Canadians there with the Rangers?

"In one incident, Rangers took a family hostage. When one of the women started screaming at the Americans, she was shot dead. In another incident, a Somali prisoner was allegedly shot dead when he refused to stop praying outside. Another was clubbed into silence. The killer is not identified."
Did that occur during the battle? If not, why would it be included in a movie about the battle?

"The American elite forces couldn't perform their central role in Somalia - to protect the oil business - because they were white racists, untrained and unable to relate to a humanitarian mission in Africa, even when corporate money was involved."
White racists. Right. The US Military is probably the least racist institution in the country. Not that you would know that by reading the British press.

"Canada put several "elite" white soldiers, who had tortured and killed Somalis, on trial."
And what do the misdeeds of Canada and Canadians have to do with the battle the Rangers fought in? Were those Canadians there with the Rangers?

Peoples Front To Reunite Gondwanaland: "Stop the Laurasian Separatist Movement!"
[ Parent ]

Article written by Alex Cox, director of Repo Man (none / 0) (#152)
by dbc001 on Wed Jan 23, 2002 at 03:12:02 PM EST

While I love the movie Repo Man, I cant imagine what makes Alex Cox an authority figure on anything other than cult movies. "Stebby" Stebbins is the only part of the movie that was "rewritten" because rapists are not to be glorified as heroes.

While many K5 readers will argue that the men in the film were not heroes, most of the people who watch the movie will regard them as such. Stebbins was removed from the movie because he was a fucking scumbag. It was such a big deal that his wife actually wrote the author of the book asking that his later actions be taken into account. Check the philly.com site under Q&A (several people have already posted the link) for further info.

dbc

[ Parent ]
Factionalisation (3.60 / 5) (#34)
by loaf on Tue Jan 22, 2002 at 10:20:46 AM EST

It's a movie (and not a very good one at that). Movies have traditionally been, to quote an ex-British Cabinet Minister "economical with the actualité" - especially where war and combat is concerned. From "The Dam Busters" and "The Great Escape" to "U571" and "Enigma", reasonable books (or as reasonable as they could have been at the time) had to be manipulated to fit on to the big screen.

It was designed to make the UN mission seem exciting and to bring it to the people. Especially as the UN is again in the spot light, it highlights that peace keeping isn't all about delivering aid and food and patting cute parent-less kids on the head. Sometimes there really is a lot of work in keeping the peace.

yeah so what? rant (2.25 / 4) (#35)
by buridan on Tue Jan 22, 2002 at 10:44:55 AM EST

history is a narrative, a story so to speak. stories take positions, they are editted, they do not carry the complete information, never will, and probably shouldn't. Every mediated event, even reported live is constructed as such outside of the realm of truth and into the realm of story. Of course, some stories have more truth in them than others, depending of course what you think is the truth, but get over it.

Does the film represent the actual kill ratio in the event? does it show that when they fired the m-60 into the crowd the bullets went through multiple people in a row, unlikely, too horrible to consider for most people.

everything like this is a perspective, it serves a purpose or strategy, whether intended or not, so while i think it is interesting that you finally caught on, I do not think you should post the same story about the upcoming 'Spiderman' movie.

Sooo wrong. (2.50 / 2) (#39)
by t0rment on Tue Jan 22, 2002 at 11:11:24 AM EST

History is the representation of facts. When you change and manipulate the facts, it is no longer history it is like you said, a story.

The two should never be confused.A historian is responsible to stay completely neutral, lest his biases get involved.

This reminds me of a E.H. Carr, who said :
History cannot be written unless the historian can achieve some kind of contact with the mind of those about whom he is writing.
Which Ridley Scott has completely not done so. He has taken only the American side. And the fact that Ridley Scott acknowlegdes that the army wanted to make this movie also makes me wonder.

And I'm sorry but I am confused by this statement:
I do not think you should post the same story about the upcoming 'Spiderman' movie.
What has this got to do with History? As I recall Black Hawk Down is supposed to be based on a true story, while Spiderman is fiction. I don't see how you can compare the two, when it comes to the subject of history.

Anyways, Peace.


. - = [ t 0 r m e n t ] = - .

Anyone can become angry--that is easy. But to be angry with the right person, to the right degree, at the right time, for the right purpose, and in the right way; this is not easy.

- Aristotle
[ Parent ]
History (none / 0) (#45)
by /dev/niall on Tue Jan 22, 2002 at 11:47:26 AM EST

History is the representation of facts. When you change and manipulate the facts, it is no longer history it is like you said, a story.

An admirable sentiment, but I do hope you do not regard any historical account of any event as fact. The reality is that history is compiled by human beings, and consciously or unconsciously they are going to leave out or add details. Merely refraining from injecting one's opinion into an historical account does not make it accurate.

This reminds me of a E.H. Carr, who said : History cannot be written unless the historian can achieve some kind of contact with the mind of those about whom he is writing.

This is an interesting quote. I'm of the opinion that a historian who gets inside the mind of their historical subject is probably going to be biased, or presumptuous. Who knows what went on in the heads of prominent historical figures?

I think you said it best at the top of your post: "History is the representation of facts". It's important to remember it's just that, and not a factual account (if such a thing could really exist).

[ Parent ]

You are correct. (none / 0) (#64)
by t0rment on Tue Jan 22, 2002 at 01:29:18 PM EST

I completely agree, with what you have said, and with what Danse said.

Although true objectivity cannot, and may not exist. There has to be something that comes from the study of history. And I don't mean to sound like a pessimist or optimist, because I am neither. But I will and I find that I have to believe in the worst of humankind, and the best of humankind.

With that, I find that I should try to believe in history, but also question it. I should seek multiple sources if possible, including mulitple perspectives. That way just like Danse said, you can at least get as much of an accurate persepective as possible.

I just had a small debate with one of my good friends about whether it is possible to be truly objective. This ties into the beginning of this reply. I have to believe the objectivity can exist to some degree. And I don't mean to sound naive or anything. And a true historian will at least strive to be as objective as one can, and if a historian does at least that, then he is doing a good job.


. - = [ t 0 r m e n t ] = - .

Anyone can become angry--that is easy. But to be angry with the right person, to the right degree, at the right time, for the right purpose, and in the right way; this is not easy.

- Aristotle
[ Parent ]
Learning and history (none / 0) (#137)
by buridan on Wed Jan 23, 2002 at 09:47:13 AM EST

the question may not be whether one can learn anything from history, but what we can learn from history that is different from what we can learn from fictions. One can learn alot from fables, myths, and varieties of fictions, what one probably does not learn there is the history, ie brute facts however contrived, the question of course is whether the brute facts make one bit of difference.

[ Parent ]
Written by the Victors (4.00 / 1) (#47)
by Woundweavr on Tue Jan 22, 2002 at 11:51:43 AM EST

History is the representation of facts. When you change and manipulate the facts, it is no longer history it is like you said, a story. The two should never be confused.A historian is responsible to stay completely neutral, lest his biases get involved.

The problem with that is that historians are NEVER completely neutral. History is not science. History is written by the victors. Is as much known about Carthage as about Rome? No because historians who had the material and wealth to write about it were Roman and wrote from a Roman perspective. Just as this movie(this is not a history text) is written from an American standpoint, history is written in the same way.

In order to create history, one needs first person sources. The only way someone can be first person, is if they were at the event. Anyone at the event, if it was of magnititude to be of historical merit, will be bias. They will remember some things better than others, they will believe their side is just, and they will color the truth, however subconsciously.

History is not science. It is in fact a story.

[ Parent ]

Well... (none / 0) (#52)
by Danse on Tue Jan 22, 2002 at 12:24:24 PM EST

There is something to be said for not intentionally and blatantly changing the facts as you understand them to suit your particular purpose. Thta's what the movie does. While I agree that you can't really keep bias out of history, you can seek out as many accounts of an event as you can find, and then figure out what they had in common. Those things can reasonably be considered facts. The rest is more gray and probably harder to figure out. I don't know why the director or producers of this movie would willingly change the facts known about the situation and then still try to tell us that it is based on a true story. Once they changed the facts, it was no longer the true story, therefore the movie could not be based on that. If they wanted to be at least somewhat honest, they could have said "loosely based on a true story." If they wnated to be even more honest they could have said "based on what we'd like you to believe is a true story."






An honest debate between Bush and Kerry
[ Parent ]
Out of Context, not Untrue (none / 0) (#66)
by Woundweavr on Tue Jan 22, 2002 at 01:41:09 PM EST

The movie tells the story of one battle. While it may be out of context, this doesn't make the story untrue. If a story of the entire conflict had the same cast as this one battle then it would be a falsehood. As it is, the movie is just Hollywood fare... getting the main point of the battle and jazzing it up a bit. The jazzing wasn't that necessary here so in general the movie is accurate, if not in context.

[ Parent ]
More than that... (3.00 / 1) (#70)
by Danse on Tue Jan 22, 2002 at 02:02:18 PM EST

Sure, it was only portraying a single battle, but even within that limited focus, they changed plenty. They left out the parts where the Americans acted less than selflessly and nobly. While it was probably justified in some cases, and not in others, the leaving out of the things that aren't so heroic makes the story simply a fiction. It becomes nothing but a "Rah! Rah! Go Americans!" pep rally. They even changed the name of one of the main characters at the request of the army because he is currently serving a 30 year sentence for raping a 12 year-old girl.






An honest debate between Bush and Kerry
[ Parent ]
Based not Equal (none / 0) (#97)
by Woundweavr on Tue Jan 22, 2002 at 06:36:19 PM EST

The story is based on a true story. Nothing ever says that the story is perfectly accurate or is equal to the true story. Even documentaries find this difficult without a narrator and paying customers don't want that.

The movie wasn't so much about the individuals as about the group. Einstein married his first cousin and was a horrible family man, but when we give an overlook of his life, we mention his scientific achievements cause that is what makes him signifigant. The flaws may have been more accurate, but they would have weakened focus of the story. What happened before or after the events are in a way irrelevant, as far as a story based on a single event for mass market appeal.

[ Parent ]

spiderman, spiderman, what was that tune (none / 0) (#67)
by buridan on Tue Jan 22, 2002 at 01:52:03 PM EST

well as I admit that mine was a rant, I assume your post does something else, or tries to do somethings else. Tell me, if history is based on facts, what are the facts of history? the classic test here is from russell, prove to me that the facts are not fictions by proving to me that the world was not created 5 minutes ago with everything in it to fool us into believing its history...

there is a story to spiderman, it seems fictional enough. It seems to lack a notion of truth and have a strong tendency toward fantasy. However, upon analyzing something like spiderman one quickly finds that there is as much truth in it as nearly anything taken at a certain level of understanding. Peter Parker did not exist, yet there are Peter Parkers in the world. The city he lives in does not exist, yet it does. Radiactive spider bites do not really create heros, well whose to say the rules won't change on that tomorrow, mr. bleen? now, given all those problematic statements.

what is similar between spiderman and blackhawk down is that they are hero stories that put forth for reasons, that have an undercurrent of patriotism to some extent, of the hope for some type of ideological 'good' etc. so more or less one could do the same thing for spiderman, imho. and it would not be too far off target.

though granted, spiderman does not make a claim to be based on a true story, whatever that means, probably has some relation to the bush presidency

[ Parent ]
You're hurting your credibility (4.07 / 14) (#48)
by roystgnr on Tue Jan 22, 2002 at 11:55:17 AM EST

You should have made your analogy something like the U-571 inaccuracies others have pointed out. It would have come off better.

just as allied troops were ignored in 'Private Ryan'

In case you didn't notice, the entire war was ignored in 'Private Ryan'. One scene showed an Allied unit storming a tiny chunk of Normandy beach, and they picked an American unit for that. The rest of the movie focused on less than a dozen men. Yes, the British were ignored, as were the Russians, the Italians, the Australians and the Japanese. It was a story about how a handful of young men reacted under combat pressure, not a war documentary.

(In defense of Private Ryan) Furthermore... (3.50 / 2) (#57)
by br284 on Tue Jan 22, 2002 at 12:46:48 PM EST

... the author, in their anti-US cloud, displays their lack of knowledge about the fundamental happenings of D-Day. The reason that that only American troops were depicted in Saving Private Ryan is because the invasion of Normandy happened not only on a single beach, but over several landing locations.

The Americans were responsible for rushing and taking several beaches, the British a few, and the Canadians one or two more. It would have made no sense to interleave different countries' infantry groups at the same place as it would cause confusion as different groups would have been under different command structures. The battle of Normandy was tough enough -- they didn't need further chaos. For more information, read Stephen Ambrose's book D-Day. No sense in spreading anti-American ignorance when the author doesn't even know the history.

And while Saving Private Ryan was not a war documentary, the events depicted within were as they would have been in June of 1944.

-Chris

[ Parent ]
in offense of (4.00 / 1) (#122)
by linca on Wed Jan 23, 2002 at 02:06:17 AM EST

You don't know yours either. The American army was to take Omaha beach and Utah beach ; it failed on Omaha. The British were to take Sword and Gold, the Canadian Juno, they were all successfull. not "several" for the American, "a few" for the British. Most of the work was done by subjects of the Queen ! It seems many ignore that. And the fact that D Day was possible because most of Hitler's soldiers were busy fighting waaay east.

Reminds me of the Newsweek issue of June 1944 where the maps showed the real parts each had taken in the battle, yet the texts and the photographs talked only of the American Army.

My problems with Saving Private Ryan is not that you only see American Soldiers. It is that it is built to make one feel WWII was America versus veeeeeery evil Germans. That stuff with the flag at beginning and end. that stuff that shows the German soldier as treacherous, immoral, inhumane.

[ Parent ]
Still a little off (4.00 / 1) (#124)
by jasonab on Wed Jan 23, 2002 at 03:23:29 AM EST

You don't know yours either. The American army was to take Omaha beach and Utah beach ; it failed on Omaha. The British were to take Sword and Gold, the Canadian Juno, they were all successfull. not "several" for the American, "a few" for the British. Most of the work was done by subjects of the Queen ! It seems many ignore that. And the fact that D Day was possible because most of Hitler's soldiers were busy fighting waaay east.
Ok, let's try this one more time. The Americans were assigned Omaha and Utah, that is true. The Brits and Canadians had the other two. All beaches were captured, although Omaha had the worst resistance. In fact, most of the Brit beaches had little or no resistance. That's just how the dice ended up. All armies ended up falling behind in their objectives (particularly the capture of Caen in the Brit sector) for many weeks until the breakout.

Over the course of the Crusade in Europe, the US supplied the vast majority of men and material. This was because they had more to offer, and hadn't taken as many casualties as the Brits had.

Reminds me of the Newsweek issue of June 1944 where the maps showed the real parts each had taken in the battle, yet the texts and the photographs talked only of the American Army.
Holding a grudge for sixty years can be quite psycologically harmful, you know.

[ Parent ]
You are wrong (4.00 / 1) (#127)
by Cornelius on Wed Jan 23, 2002 at 05:05:39 AM EST

The lamentable Soviet Union commited the most men and material to the field. (Granted that the victory over Germany was a concerted effort on the part of the Allies, but the USSR paid the highest price for that achievement.


Cornelius

"Your suffering will be legendary, even in Hell", Hellraiser
[ Parent ]
I stand corrected. (none / 0) (#142)
by br284 on Wed Jan 23, 2002 at 10:52:57 AM EST

As another poster pointed out, and I checked out -- two beaches for the Americans, two for the British, and one for the Canadians. I will say that my fault in attributing several as opposed to a few beaches to the Americans has to do with the fact that while the British were taking their beaches and brewing their tea on their beaches, the Americans were in a godawful firefight on Omaha -- which was taken.

I think that it is funny in Private Ryan that you lament the fact that only American soldiers are seen. As the historical record stands, the battles depicted in the movie were fought by the Americans and it would have been historical revisionism (we don't like that, remember) if the Brits and Canadians were also shown on the same beaches. Now, there might have been a few more British paratroopers shown, but as there were 13400 American paratroopers as opposed to 7000 British paratroopers, it is not a grave historcal omission that not that many British paratroopers were shown. (Weren't there a few though?) Now, do you want this movie to be historically accurate (in setting and areas, if not story), or would you like it to be an international feelgood film that has our British and Canadian buddies fighting at our sides during the initial phases of the invasion? Remember, that rewriting history can work both ways.

-Chris

[ Parent ]
Not the brits (none / 0) (#157)
by linca on Wed Jan 23, 2002 at 09:47:51 PM EST

I'm not minding the absence of Brits and Canadians (and French, no kidding, there were a few French soldiers on D Day), but rather the absence of German soldiers. They are depicted as Heartless killing machines ; only worth to be wiped out of earth with flamethrowers. That is certainly false.

[ Parent ]
Germans (4.00 / 1) (#159)
by br284 on Thu Jan 24, 2002 at 02:37:54 AM EST

The funny thing is that a large part of the Axis defense along the wall of "Fortress Europe" did not consist of Germans. Many of the defenders were prisoners from the Eastern front -- "Ost" troops. Many of these (Russians, Polish, even Koreans) gave up because they thought being POWs under the Allies was preferable to being POWs under the Axis.

Mind you, there were almost always German officers on hand with a pistol to shoot those who did not fight. I can't say that it is better than the Russian Army's actions in Stalingrad, but it still seems quite heartless.

But then again, I'm straying off topic.

-Chris

[ Parent ]
Yeah (3.00 / 4) (#50)
by PhillipW on Tue Jan 22, 2002 at 12:08:14 PM EST

This is probably very true, but so what? I am not educated on the subject, so I do not know if the movie re-writes history or not. But does it really matter? Hollywood is famous for mutilating history or the truth, and they won't distort it in a way that makes the country they live in look bad.

It really is nothing to worry about. I don't think that the movie will shape anyone's opinion on anything. And if it does, than that person is probably not intelligent enough to make a difference.

-Phil
Cynical, but true... (none / 0) (#103)
by Clanwolfer on Tue Jan 22, 2002 at 07:52:47 PM EST

As someone with extensive American public school experience:

Yes, Hollywood shapes opinions. There are many people for whom Hollywood is a prominent source for opinions. Why, I won't speculate: poor education, inability to think for selves, whatever. However, the fact remains that this movie, for better or worse, will shape public opinion.

The battle, a month ago, was unknown to all but a very well-educated group. Now, it will be indelibly etched as seen into the minds of many people.

Yes, these views are cynical. I don't like it; I don't want to believe it sometimes. But, to my experience, they are absolutely true.
--"I'm simply not going to take it any more."
[ Parent ]

Moron. (4.73 / 26) (#53)
by kwsNI on Tue Jan 22, 2002 at 12:36:26 PM EST

The question is, are Hollywood producers routinely distorting history just glorify America or is there a more sinister planned agenda of changing public attitudes and opinions? Are the lies in 'Black Hawk Down' prompted by purely commercial motives i.e. to flatter Americans or are audiences brainwashed to see American troops in a different - more positive - light?
First of all, your claim that Saving Private Ryan is "evidence" of Hollywood changing history is asinine. That movie is fictional. There was no private Ryan. There was no quest to save Ryan. At least do some basic research. Here are some facts about Saving Private Ryan from IMDB. :
  • Based upon the true story of the Niland brothers. One was killed on D-Day while in the 82nd Airborne, one was killed on Utah Beach with the 4th Infantry Division, and a third was reported killed that same week in Burma (but later turned up alive). Mrs. Niland received all three death notification telegrams on the same day. The fourth son was serving with the 101st Airborne and was ordered pulled out of the front lines, but couldn't be found. He survived anyway. [Based on a story - that means the writers got the original idea from it.]
  • Many veterans of D-Day have sent kudos to director Steven Spielberg for the film's authenticity, including actor James Doohan, best known as Scotty from Star Trek. Doohan lost the middle finger of his right hand and was wounded in the leg during the war. He commended Spielberg for not leaving out any gory details. [Probably the only true part of the movie was the invasion of Normandy - the part of the movie that was highly acclaimed for it's realism by the people that were there.]
Yay, it's another bash Hollywood story. The next thing you know, pop-culture is going to be glorifying things that didn't happen. This is a bad trend that Hollywood must not be able to start.

...

So I'm completely failing to see where this is anything new. I know I'm going out on a limb here, but have you ever heard of Shakespeare? Try reading some of his "histories". Try Richard III - it's a great story of this Machiavellian tyrant who usurps the title of King of England by murdering his way to the throne, only to have his friends immediately desert him and overthrow him. Eventually, the grandfather of Queen Elizabeth (Shakespeare's queen) comes in and kills him. It's a pretty story but in reality, Richard III reigned for quite a few years and although he was known as rutheless, he was a fairly popular leader that did a lot for England.

Now I haven't seen Black Hawk Down, but everything I have read has said the movie follows well with the book, which I have read. The book is very unbiased in it's treatment of the Somalis - Mark Bowden even flew to Somalia to interview many of the Somalis who fought the Americans. Although many Somalis were defending their property, many more were out for blood. The area that US troops went into was the main body of Farah Aideed's supporters and troops.

The story isn't about the Canadians or the Malaysians, it's the story about 100 men who were given a job that went wrong. It was a story about them spending a night in a hostile city of a million people who wanted to see them suffer. They were unprepared but made the best of a bad situation. It's a story about those men's courage.

I get really sick of people like you bashing American troops because of the decisions of politicians. You sit there claiming your right to free speech while spitting on the people who gave and defend that right for you. And yet I read your article and I really don't even see that you have any clue what really happened.

kwsNI
I can picture in my mind a world without war, a world without hate. And I can picture us attacking that world, because they'd never expect it. -Jack Handy

Old news... (3.20 / 5) (#58)
by m0rzo on Tue Jan 22, 2002 at 12:47:18 PM EST

I was reading about this in November in the British Daily Telegraph - it hasn't just come to light. That's why I voted this story -1.

If you've read the original book which the film is based on, you'd realise it is very different. Hollywood rewriting history itself is not a new phenomenon either. Look at U-571, where suddenly the Americans become the heroes in that story. It's no good moaning about it; you might as well just refuse to go to see it. I think the reason the real Black Hawk Down conflict went so arse-over-tit was because of films like this! The guys who went in there all gung-ho were fed on this bullshit diet of Rambo movies. Ironic huh?


My last sig was just plain offensive.

Planned agenda? Of course they have! (4.00 / 4) (#61)
by e on Tue Jan 22, 2002 at 01:15:26 PM EST

I don't think it will have escaped anyone how movies have been used as an instrument of propaganda. Especially during war-time, but there is no reason to believe movie propaganda is not used all the time.

Movies appeal to our emotion more than the intellect, and therefore serves as an excellent platform to serve up propaganda; this is exactly what Hollywood has always done, especially during war-time.

While I haven't seen this movie yet, and I think it's to early out to have been entirely inspired by September 11th, it is no secret that the U.S. government regards Somalia as one of the "rogue states" that needs to be "dealt with". So, wouldn't it be convenient if the americans know the somali as evil savages? Makes it a lot easier to accept another "war against whatever".

Some links:
A Salon.com story on propaganda movies.
A few examples of wartime propaganda movies.

Of course, there are less insidious forms of propaganda fed to us through the tv every day. For instance, notice how there's always a moral attached to every episode of most american family sitcoms, telling people (kids expecially) how they should behave in all kinds of situations? Not a coincidence, they are tailor-made to reinforce the "american values". Sure we're being brainwashed. Sometimes in completely harmless ways, and sometimes...

-- E
"You're not paranoid if they're really out to get you..."

Problems (4.70 / 20) (#80)
by trhurler on Tue Jan 22, 2002 at 02:32:58 PM EST

First, problems with the story itself.
  • Yes, neighborhood people got involved in the fighting. However, the Aideed troops were not all wearing uniforms; it was not possible to distinguish one from the other in a firefight. The movie is about what happened that day, not what was found out later.
  • The UN troops came into conflict with Aideed, not because he was some kind of Somali independence fighter against the evil imperialist US, but because he was seizing food shipments of which the UN forces were instructed to ensure delivery. He, as the movie states, was using hunger as a weapon to gain political power.
  • Aideed did in fact make his men into "vicious fanatics" by telling them that the Americans were there to subjugate and enslave them, which was patently untrue. The movie actually portrayed them in a rather positive light; they fought intelligently and bravely. In truth, they were probably neither so organized nor so courageous, as at best they were poorly trained irregulars - but to portray them as such would have lessened the appearance of US heroism, so the movie didn't do that.
  • Canadians and Malaysians were ignored in the movie because the movie was not about the entire peacekeeping effort, but rather about a single battle involving US and Somali forces.
  • The accusations of some kind of conspiracy among government and movie producers are amusing, given that these are the same Hollywood figures who not so long ago were routinely smeared as anti-American. Apparently no matter what kind of movies they make, they're evil conspirators in someone's eyes. Have you ever thought maybe they just make movies they like and that they hope will make money?
Second, problems with comments on it.
  • It is not true that US troops were then or are now overwhelmingly or even more than sporadically racist. Remember that US combat units almost all have black and/or other minority members, including special forces. Maybe someone used the term "Operation Smash Niggers," but either it was not meant seriously or it was not said by many people very often; the military simply wouldn't tolerate it in the face of the complaints it would generate. However, it is obvious that every society has a few racists, and it is unreasonable to expect that the US Army would contain none whatsoever, just as would any other military in the world.
  • Isolated cases of rape were reported and handled - the perpetrators are serving very long prison terms in conditions that make civilian prisons seem quite nice. You cannot prevent everyone from committing every possible crime, but justice is served; that's how life works, military, civilian, or otherwise.
  • Whoever that idiot is that kept posting about "white US soldiers" and so on needs to actually go and look at some US military units. If anything, they overrepresent blacks because of the great many blacks in lower middle class and poor conditions. Sure, the majority is still white, but nobody makes it in the Special Forces without at least the ability to get along with, work with, and not continually offend black people or members of other minorities. You'd be hard pressed just to avoid spending your time in service scrubbing toilets with such an attitude problem!
In short, what we have here is a bunch of ignorant, ideologically motivated people who don't know anything about the US military or the Somalia intervention making obviously false claims or blowing true claims entirely out of any reasonable proportion. There certainly WERE problems with the peacekeeping mission there, and some people needed to be punished for certain things(and mostly were.) However, screaming about the sky falling is simply not a reasonable response; it makes you look stupid.

--
'God dammit, your posts make me hard.' --LilDebbie

Racial makeup of Spec Ops (5.00 / 1) (#117)
by BurntHombre on Wed Jan 23, 2002 at 12:04:27 AM EST

I agree with the main thrust of your comments, but I want to make one correction:

The U.S. Army Special Operations, which includes the Rangers and Special Forces (or "Green Berets") is almost exclusively comprised of non-Hispanic caucasians. Of the 140 Rangers from Company B, 3rd Battalion of the army's 75th Infantry, only two were black. For the regular army, however, about 21% of enlisted men are black, which is about 6% higher than general population.

This is not to detract from your point that anyone in Spec Ops would certainly have had to pay their dues as a regular Army soldier -- including working with and serving under other black soldiers.

[ Parent ]

-1 to this non-story. (4.80 / 31) (#84)
by Stickerboy on Tue Jan 22, 2002 at 02:47:31 PM EST

This is one of the worst-informed, one-sided op-ed pieces that I've ever seen submitted to K5. It claims that 'Black Hawk Down' rewrites history, and that it doesn't get its facts straight.

The allegations it makes, and the BBC article it's based on, is pure FUD. Much of what it states are simply unsubstantiated allegations and open-ended, insinuating questions with no real backing behind them. Let's go over the points one-by-one, and then I'll give a fairer account of what happened.

BBC correspondent Yusuf Hassan says about the Somali combatants: "Many of them were just people in the neighbourhood who got caught up in this fire and were trying to defend their homes, as they thought they were under attack,"

The above line is spun to make you feel sympathetic for the Somalis, painting them as innocent bystanders who were mowed down by the vicious Americans, without ever giving evidence or reasoning behind it. Nowhere in this statement does it mention that "the people in the neighborhood" were either armed and shooting at US soldiers, or being used as human shields or ammo runners by the Aideed militia. The article's author won't deny it, but he's putting his own spin on the story to fit his own politcal agenda. Aideed's forces gave the "civilians" of Mogadishu weapons and told them to run to kill the Americans, who they said were invading to take over the city. Aideed's militia is clearly to blame for involving the "civilians" during the battle and getting a large number of them killed against the well-trained and well-armed US forces, who defended themselves.

American troops entered Somalia on a UN mandate to secure food aid and stop a civil war to break out anew.

Wow, a morsel of truth. But the best spin is based on a modicum of truth - it makes them more believable.

Stories of murder and torture by Canadian "peacekeepers" appeared in the Canadian press.

What this line is supposed to accomplish is to subtly convince the reader that the original mission has failed to do what it set out to do - feed the starving Somalis - and instead, the peacekeepers as a whole took their frustrations out on the innocent Somalis by murdering and torturing them. Never mind that every army has its bad apples (which were punished), or that the number of Somalians saved from starvation (100,000+) by the successful intervention greatly outweighs the impact of the number of Somalians killed due to the wrong turn that the intervention took (1,000-5,000, based on Red Cross estimates).

Soon the troops came into conflict with one Somali clan lead by Farah Aideed. As a result of this some helicopters were shot down and a rescue operation was started for the crew. In the cause of this operation Somalis not supportive of Aideed were drawn into combat and killed several Americans.

See my above statements on how the Aideed milita tricked their own countrymen into fighting for them, by giving them weapons and telling them that the US was trying to take possession of the city, and not just remove the leadership of the Aideed clan. Once again, the blame falls squarely on the Aideed militia.

The film gives another story. Vicious fanatics seek to hurt America and are taught a lesson. Canadian troops and the fighting done by the Malaysians is ignored, just as allied troops were ignored in 'Private Ryan'.

Point 1: I would certainly qualify soldiers of the Aideed militia ready to sacrifice local women and children as human shields as cowards, not as fanatics. The rest, who were stupid enough to attack the US soldiers from the middle of the street, were simply ignorant to warfare, being too used to bullying around the populace. Canadian and Malaysian troops took no part in the main fighting. They were not involved in the initial firefight around Aideed's compound, nor were they pinned down under fire by thousands of Somali militia during the night that followed. The Malaysian troops went in at the American commander's request to extract the troops the next morning with their armored personnel carriers, where they encountered substantially less fire than the battle of the day before. Did Malaysian troops come under fire? Yes. But did they participate in any significant way to the battle, other than contributing their armored vehicles? No. The book mentions the Malaysians' contributions, but compared to what the US soldiers dealt with, it was rightfully played down.

"I think the [US] army wanted this film to be made because of the misconception that it [the military campaign] was a fiasco," said Ridley Scott, director of the film.

This completely takes Scott's quote out of context. The author attempts to make it sound like Scott directed the movie in order to skew history, and that Scott is in league with the US Army in rewriting history. If anything, Scott is out to correct it in the US. Scott was making the point that everyone (including most US citizens) believed that US soldiers were routed by an inferior force in that battle, when in fact they fought bravely and well against 30 to 1 odds (or even higher) without armored support and very little air cover.

The question is, are Hollywood producers routinely distorting history just glorify America or is there a more sinister planned agenda of changing public attitudes and opinions? Are the lies in 'Black Hawk Down' prompted by purely commercial motives i.e. to flatter Americans or are audiences brainwashed to see American troops in a different - more positive - light?

Wow, those aren't loaded questions, really! Have you ever heard of push-polling? It's a political tactic in the US where callers of surveys ask questions that are deliberately meant to predispose the participants into answering a particular way. And here, ladies and gentlemen, is a prime example. The author assumes that the intervention's critics are correct, without doing further research. Cut-and-paste thinking. And he disregards all the evidence in public that goes against what he believes, evidence that I've stated here and is appearing elsewhere in the posts to this story.

I'm running out of time, so I'll reply to this post later to add on with a more objective version of events. Unobjective, completely one-sided garbage like this is why I never read Slashdot anymore. Let's not turn Kuro5hin into the same thing.



Pop quiz hotshot (1.66 / 3) (#86)
by core10k on Tue Jan 22, 2002 at 02:59:57 PM EST

A helicopter filled with known Taliban fighters crash lands in New York City. How long before they're all dead? What, you think it's different when it's American troops? Why?

[ Parent ]
Not much like New York (none / 0) (#88)
by davidduncanscott on Tue Jan 22, 2002 at 03:29:13 PM EST

Just how heavily armed do you think people are in New York? That helicopter didn't "crash land" -- it was shot down, and the troops were already under heavy fire. New York has its off days, but nothing like that. Saigon back in the day, maybe...

[ Parent ]
I don't think you got my point (none / 0) (#90)
by core10k on Tue Jan 22, 2002 at 03:53:35 PM EST

But just to make it more absurdist, let's try this: (hopefully I'll satisfy each of your objections with this one)

Imagine a convoy of Greenpeace tree-huggers, known to be on their way to shoot down an Exxon oil tanker, crash landed in front of the Dallas headquarters of Exxon Itl. How long before all the tree-huggers are dead?

^.^ Anyways, it's REALLY not hard to understand what my analogy was. I'm not sure why it's not getting through to you.



[ Parent ]
It's a fine analogy... (4.66 / 3) (#93)
by davidduncanscott on Tue Jan 22, 2002 at 04:50:51 PM EST

if the Exxon HQ is in the middle of a war zone. My point is that the environment was already a good deal different than NYC or Dallas.

Your comparison suggests an armed group suddenly in the midst of peaceful civilians, righteously angry at their intrusion. Somebody throws a brick, and pretty soon it gets really ugly...I simply think it's worth notice that the situation was considerably different -- Somalia was in a state of civil war, with active combat every day. Plenty of Somalis were killing each other and anyone else who happened to be there.

As it happens, my cube looks toward the Pentagon. I see a fair number of Black Hawks, and they are not small machines. The chopper was not brought down by some lucky kid with a rock, it came down because of some lucky kid with a rocket-propelled grenade -- and there were a lot more like him on the ground, loaded for serious shit. Remember the "technicals" with .50's on the back? Don't see a lot of those in Brooklyn.

[ Parent ]

Depends (5.00 / 3) (#92)
by trhurler on Tue Jan 22, 2002 at 04:29:40 PM EST

First off, I'm not convinced they'd all die. It depends on if they tried to surrender or to fight.

Second, as to why it would be different: because it can be. The US has extensive support for its troops; the Taliban did not. (Incidentally, there is no Taliban anymore for all intents and purposes.) If the Taliban could have mounted some kind of ongoing rescue operation / urban firefight, then under the circumstances, we should expect that it would have. However, the resistance it would have met would considerably exceed that our people faced in Somalia; keep in mind that inside of four hours the city would be crawling with heavily armed and armored US troops.

Of course, you're so busy hating the US that you don't want to remember details, such as the fact that this was a UN mission, not a US invasion...

--
'God dammit, your posts make me hard.' --LilDebbie

[ Parent ]
You are right... (none / 0) (#146)
by irix on Wed Jan 23, 2002 at 01:32:40 PM EST

...but how did it make it to the front page?

This is one of the worst-informed, one-sided op-ed pieces that I've ever seen submitted to K5.

Absolutely correct. Every liberal and pacifist out there are reading one or two articles written by critics of this movie and then assuming that they know everything there is to know about that mission in Somalia.

Try reading the book. The original newspaper articles it was based on. The Frontline peice that was done about the mission.

I was absolutely disgusted with some of the comments in the Slashdot thread about this movie. Now I come to K5 and get to see the same useless crap posted to the front page. Wonderful.

[ Parent ]

I wonder... (4.80 / 26) (#85)
by influx on Tue Jan 22, 2002 at 02:56:15 PM EST

How many of you are familiar with the events that happened, or have even seen the movie? If you have read one biased newspaper account of how biased the movie is, how are you suddenly more enlightened about this incident?

Why not read through the orginal material, go watch the movie and form your own opinions?

My reaction after watching the movie was a disgust towards some of the politics of the United States government at that time. These soldiers were sent into a dangerous mission without the tools that they asked for. The movie made it very clear that these elite American forces ultimately were dependent on UN (mostly Pakistani) forces to rescue them.

I'm not sure how this movie was supposed to "brainwash" me in any way. All I saw was images of American soldiers getting mowed down by effective Somali ambushes. The Rangers and Delta Force struck back valiently, but the mission certainly wasn't shown as some great American victory.

I was also struck by the dialogue between the American General and a Somali warlord. The Somali was quite disdainful of what he saw as American ignorance and naivity, and this was one of the film's deeper themes. Americans with great technology, training and motivation losing their lifes to irregular African militia members.

Ulitmately, that was the lesson I took from this movie. Our politics at the time were to get American forces entangled into all these hot-zones around the world, naively thinking we were doing our best to help starving refugees or prevent brutal attrocities. However, American naiveness ends up getting dedicated soldiers killed in pointless battles.

I've had the good fortune in meeting several U.S. Army Rangers, and I can say that for the most part the movie gave them justice. The motto "leave no man behind" is something these men valued so highly that they were willing to sacrifice their own lives to protect the dead bodies of other Americans. As one Delta Force soldier says (para-phrasing), "I'm not some kind of war junky, people ask me why I keep doing this, and I don't say anything because they wouldn't understand that it's not about the politics or saving refugee lives, it's about the man next to you. Once the first bullets whiz by your head, everything else falls away and you are just trying to save yourself and the man next to you."

Finally, the director, "Ridley Scott was born in South Shields, Northumberland, England. Reared in London, Cumbria, Wales and Germany, he returned to Northeast England to live in Stockton-on-Tees." (Fox Home). I suppose the director had it in his best interests to pander to the U.S. Army, considering how much of a true-blue American he is, right?

It's growing old to see people on this site, who are so obviously negatively biased towards everything American, at all costs. America is certainly not above criticism (ask any American about our ills!), but to see uninformed bashing like this ruins some credibility this site has on other issues.

---
The more you know, the less you understand.

Kill ratios (none / 0) (#130)
by eyeflare on Wed Jan 23, 2002 at 06:47:53 AM EST

I believe the kill ratio was something like 10:1 advantage US during those "effective ambushes". The ratio should be reversed if the Somali were any good at guerrilla war. The American soldiers did quite well during this battle in my opinion. Less than twenty dead Rangers / Delta Force, and somewhere between 200-300 dead Somalis, no-one actually knows.

The whole thing was a sad mess and lots of people died unnecessarily.
"There is no way to peace; peace is the way." -A. J. Muste
[ Parent ]
Re:Kill Ratios (none / 0) (#172)
by mrfred on Sun Jan 27, 2002 at 07:28:40 PM EST

there were around 800 - 900 dead somalis IIRC

[ Parent ]
Missing the point (none / 0) (#174)
by geekmug on Mon Jan 28, 2002 at 04:29:21 PM EST

If I went into a city in a armored vechile, then I would hope I could kill at least 10 people for they killed me. The Americans could fire aimlessly and hit that many ppl. The large crowds that mobbed the convoy were easy targets for a soldier to mow down. A single soldier is a much more difficult target to take out. Notable is the fact that many of the deaths were civilians that were caught in the cross-fire.
-- Why reinvent the square wheel?
[ Parent ]
Atrocities (1.50 / 4) (#131)
by drquick on Wed Jan 23, 2002 at 06:56:07 AM EST

  1. The Book is by no means the "original". As You can read in this debate the final book is a revised version where Canadian and US atrocities are omitted. And it's just a book the film is based on.
  2. You were brainwashed by this film, to believe that American soldiers did not commit atrocities.
  3. You were brainwached to think the Americans were defending some higher values.
  4. You're so full of American 'heroism' that the only failure you can imagine is portraying Americans as loosers.


[ Parent ]
Brainwashing (5.00 / 1) (#149)
by dbc001 on Wed Jan 23, 2002 at 02:08:49 PM EST

1. The Book is by no means the "original". As You can read in this debate the final book is a revised version where Canadian and US atrocities are omitted.

I dont see this information anywhere in this discussion (granted, I'm having a hard time sifting through some of the crap here). Would you mind posting a source for this? I've never heard anything about a "revised version" of the book. What exactly is "the original" if it's not the book? The newspaper series?

2. You were brainwashed by this film, to believe that American soldiers did not commit atrocities.

Excellent argument, I especially like the way you took the evidence at hand and built a credible position. Any reader can't help but agree with this point after reading your post.

4. You're so full of American 'heroism' that the only failure you can imagine is portraying Americans as loosers.

I see no mention of American 'heroism' or evidence of his being full of it. Perhaps you are referring to his paraphrasing of this line from the movie: it's not about the politics or saving refugee lives, it's about the man next to you. This refers not to trying to be a hero, but simply trying to do the right thing. I'll paraphrase another line from the movie for you: "Nobody chooses to be a hero."

It's posts like these that make K5 suck so much now. You make blatant accusations, reactionary statements, using fourth-grade level spelling and grammar, without building any kind of reational argument or citing any relevant sources. K5 was really fun to read when people carefully chose what they were going to say and backed it up with reliable information.

-dbc

ps - I even remember reading posts when people were so careful to reveal all the relevant facts that they would add their biases to the end of a post - for instance, I'm an American and I really enjoyed the movie.

[ Parent ]
Have you read the book? (none / 0) (#151)
by rantweasel on Wed Jan 23, 2002 at 02:50:05 PM EST

Bowden quite clearly and explicitly details things that American (and UN) troops did that could be seen as crimes or atrocities, where he had the evidence. He mentioned the Canadians, he describes the death of women and children at the hands of American soldiers (who provide the material in interviews). It's quite balanced, in fact. You might learn something from reading it.

mathias

[ Parent ]
all excellent points ... (3.00 / 1) (#134)
by gregholmes on Wed Jan 23, 2002 at 07:16:06 AM EST

The only omission is the role of Clinton. Sorry, you can't leave him out of this.

My reaction after watching the movie was a disgust towards some of the politics of the United States government at that time. These soldiers were sent into a dangerous mission without the tools that they asked for. The movie made it very clear that these elite American forces ultimately were dependent on UN (mostly Pakistani) forces to rescue them.

"the United States government at that time"? You were disgusted with the politics of Bill Clinton. He was the one who wanted this intervention. Remember, we "Clinton-haters" had a problem with these little missions?

Ulitmately, that was the lesson I took from this movie. Our politics at the time were to get American forces entangled into all these hot-zones around the world, naively thinking we were doing our best to help starving refugees or prevent brutal attrocities. However, American naiveness ends up getting dedicated soldiers killed in pointless battles.

Not our politics. Some of us advocated acting in the national interest. The Clintinoids wanted to act only when it was not in our national interest. Only then could their actions be pure and humanitarian. We saw how well that worked.



[ Parent ]
um... (none / 0) (#171)
by mrfred on Sun Jan 27, 2002 at 07:27:33 PM EST

tsk, tsk, tsk.. it was Bush who sent in US troops into Somalia - Hey, even I know that and I'm not even american...

[ Parent ]
WTF? (none / 0) (#175)
by gregholmes on Tue Jan 29, 2002 at 05:21:22 AM EST

WTF?

tsk, tsk, tsk.. it was Bush who sent in US troops into Somalia - Hey, even I know that and I'm not even american...

Well, at least you have some excuse for being completely wrong ... it's not like you could type "Somalia" into Google or anything and go to the first result ...

Beginning in 1993, a two-year UN humanitarian effort (primarily in the south) was able to alleviate famine conditions, but when the UN withdrew in 1995, having suffered significant casualties, order still had not been restored.


[ Parent ]
well.. (none / 0) (#176)
by mrfred on Tue Jan 29, 2002 at 11:54:47 AM EST

..yes, it was a UN mission - I never questioned that. But from your previous post one got the feeling it was Clinton who sent the US part of the UN troops - which as be both know isn't correct.


[ Parent ]
whoops... (none / 0) (#177)
by gregholmes on Wed Jan 30, 2002 at 05:35:09 AM EST

My mistake ... yes, Bush-1 originally sent them. Many apologies for the archness of the original comment!

In fairness to me, the reason I forgot was the Bush phase was rather successful; protect the food distributors. Only in the Clinton phase did it become a farce of "nation-building" and chasing Aidid around. Which therefore doesn't invalidate the original point (though I wish Bush hadn't sent them at all ... oh well, if wishes were fishes ...)



[ Parent ]
True I suppose... (none / 0) (#178)
by mrfred on Wed Jan 30, 2002 at 01:31:23 PM EST

Suppose Clinton did push it a bit far. Bush been in similar situation before (Iraq) so he probably knew better how to deal with it.

[ Parent ]
Here's why movies are made: (4.08 / 12) (#91)
by rebelcool on Tue Jan 22, 2002 at 04:06:05 PM EST

Money. Black Hawk Down was made long before the 'war on terrorism' came about. The largest market for mainstream movies in the world is america. Is anyone going to alienate their largest and richest audience? Of course not.

Get off it, use some common sense. This has to be one of the more ridiculous 'oh those damn americans i hate them all' stories of late.

As someone said earlier..read some shakespeare. Many things he wrote were based on actual events, but he changed things to give them artistic meaning.

-1 for this pile of unthinking reactionary garbage.

COG. Build your own community. Free, easy, powerful. Demo site

I am alienated (none / 0) (#126)
by Cornelius on Wed Jan 23, 2002 at 04:35:19 AM EST

Nothing alienates me so much as a lie


Cornelius

"Your suffering will be legendary, even in Hell", Hellraiser
[ Parent ]
don't read k5 then.. (none / 0) (#140)
by rebelcool on Wed Jan 23, 2002 at 10:19:09 AM EST

theres alot of lies and bullshit around here. as with everything else in life, you must take it all with a grain of salt and realize that everyone has an agenda.

COG. Build your own community. Free, easy, powerful. Demo site
[ Parent ]

Story URL (none / 0) (#94)
by unstable on Tue Jan 22, 2002 at 05:23:46 PM EST

Here is a link to a online version of the story (dont know if its exactly the same as the book)
but it has alot of good side info (vid and audio clips, equipment data etc)
Here is the link



Reverend Unstable
all praise the almighty Bob
and be filled with slack

-1 for this, what's new? (4.66 / 6) (#98)
by sypher on Tue Jan 22, 2002 at 06:58:19 PM EST

-1 for this in my book, whats new in hollywood rewriting history to make a few bucks?

Pearl Harbor anyone?

One interesting thing i read about this movie was that one of the guys actually involved in the real incident was sentenced for child sex abuse.

http://film.guardian.co.uk/News_Story/Exclusive/0,4029,623534,00.html

I recall a spokesperson from the movie house stating that a certain character in the dramatisation had been replaced with an amalgamation of many other participants in the original event.

Funny enough i got my copy of 1984 back recently and I am re-reading it.

For those of you who have not come across this wonderfully sinister tome by George Orwell, a principle character is tasked to go through old material such as newspapers and leaflets,'updating' (New stuff comes pre- manufactured and contains next to nothing in factual base).

He removes stuff and replaces it with figments of his imagination to create a different impression of the actual events, or remove items which are not in trend or distasteful as matters of record, various individuals 'disappear' with no explanation.

One thought this character has (Winston) is that as none of the stuff he is changing was too deeply rooted in the truth to start with, he isnt really causing any harm.

Now I'm obviosuly not trying to say this is 100% the case with BHD, but what are we expecting to get when we go see the latest hollywood war movies these days?

How long will it be until future generations can come to believe these articles to be wholly factual?

Hopefully a very long time indeed.



I dreamt of it once, now I fear it dreams of me
minor irony (none / 0) (#119)
by martman on Wed Jan 23, 2002 at 01:09:12 AM EST

Funny that so many people agree with a post that's voting -1 on a story that's been posted...

"Everybody wants to save the earth; nobody wants to help Mom do the dishes."
--P. J. O'Rourke

[ Parent ]
RE: Minor Irony (none / 0) (#128)
by sypher on Wed Jan 23, 2002 at 05:21:19 AM EST

Yeah, and i voted for option 4 in the poll about it too.

<sarcasm>Maybe we are all so afraid of the thought police that we vote with our feet, not with our brains nowadays :)</sarcasm>



I dreamt of it once, now I fear it dreams of me
[ Parent ]
Ingrates! (1.33 / 3) (#99)
by SPYvSPY on Tue Jan 22, 2002 at 07:19:10 PM EST

Remember the men that spent their final moments looking down the barrels of guns held by a mob of scrawny, ignorant African thugs, and keep your silly ideas about your silly armchair policy-making to yourself!!

Armchair liberals, BEWARE! You will never know dignity if you continue to keep your snouts in the muddy putrescence of armchair politics. Get your skin in the game, keep your chin tucked in, shut your mouth and JUST DO IT.
------------------------------------------------

By replying to this or any other comment in this thread, you assign an equal share of all worldwide copyright in such reply to each of the other readers of this site.

are u a troll? u are good... (2.00 / 1) (#106)
by turmeric on Tue Jan 22, 2002 at 08:02:43 PM EST

but sadly, calling people 'liberals' does not make everything the US does ok. although it is strange how liberals seem to keep sending in miniscule and undermanned forces and then watching the result blow up in their face, like in vietnam, like when jimmy carter sent troops to get the hostages out right before he lost to reagan, like when clinton the anti-war protestor sent people into somalia. although i guess when conservatives pull the same shit nobody seems to notice and they say it was for the good of the nation or whatever. anyways, i think you are full of shit. what would americans do if a bunch of somalis helicoptered down into new jersey? they would blow the shit out of it, thats what.

[ Parent ]
Clinton and Somalia (4.00 / 1) (#113)
by Neil Rubin on Tue Jan 22, 2002 at 10:48:04 PM EST

like when clinton the anti-war protestor sent people into somalia
I would point out that it was Bush (the elder) who sent U.S. troops into Somalia, after Clinton was elected, but before he took office. Clinton was, of course, President when the events of "Black Hawk Down" took place.

[ Parent ]
If Somalis helicoptered into New Jersey?! (1.25 / 4) (#143)
by SPYvSPY on Wed Jan 23, 2002 at 11:18:18 AM EST

Why would Somalis helicopter into New Jersey? Certainly not to try to get food into the mouths of starving Goombas. I guess my point is: Somalis != Americans. That is, Americans take care of themselves and their brothers and sisters, while Somalis shit on their own doorsteps and eat their own children. Don't even start with that "victim of circumstance" crap, either. Do you have any idea how many Americans have risen out of utter poverty and injustice to become rich beyond their wildest dreams? This planet is a meritocracy, brother -- like it or not. Somalis made their bed, and they'll sleep in it before America is done with them.
------------------------------------------------

By replying to this or any other comment in this thread, you assign an equal share of all worldwide copyright in such reply to each of the other readers of this site.
[ Parent ]

Sounds so true it's practically tautological... (3.00 / 1) (#102)
by SIGFPE on Tue Jan 22, 2002 at 07:52:14 PM EST

...compared to the movie of A Beautiful Mind. Nonetheless I still enjoyed the movie. I guess I don't go to the movies looking for history lessons - I use books for that instead.

The simple fact is that people go to movies when they want to see a totally bad guy (or a totally good guy) get what he deserves. Anything in between is like real life and you can get that without paying $8.
SIGFPE

A Beautiful Mind (none / 0) (#121)
by srichman on Wed Jan 23, 2002 at 01:30:31 AM EST

The discrepancies.

(After it gets moved to the archives, you'll have to look for it here instead.)

[ Parent ]

Actually I'm reading the book (none / 0) (#145)
by SIGFPE on Wed Jan 23, 2002 at 01:18:39 PM EST

I (1) enjoyed the movie and (2) the movie motivated me to read the book which is excellent so I'm not too bothered by the discrepancies. If I found that there were significant discrepancies between the book and reality I'd be pretty unhappy. I guess I have low expectations of the truthfulness movies.
SIGFPE
[ Parent ]
You're forgetting (3.00 / 3) (#105)
by jayhawk88 on Tue Jan 22, 2002 at 08:02:39 PM EST

Now, more than ever, if we do not allow our leaders to gloss over past military blunders, then the terrorists have already won. And, uh...President Bush. I have to mention President Bush as well.

I have the greatest respect for anyone who defends our country, but it's important we don't allow "rose-coloring" like this to happen.

Why, then, should we grant government the Orwellian capability to listen at will and in real time to our communications across the Web? -- John Ashcroft
Defending what? (none / 0) (#109)
by Hong Kong Phooey on Tue Jan 22, 2002 at 08:25:37 PM EST

How on earth can the actions in Somalia be described as defending the US?

[ Parent ]
Pssst! (none / 0) (#118)
by martman on Wed Jan 23, 2002 at 01:03:31 AM EST

I think he was 'joking', using a form of humour commonly known as satire.

"Everybody wants to save the earth; nobody wants to help Mom do the dishes."
--P. J. O'Rourke

[ Parent ]
Re: You're forgetting (none / 0) (#132)
by DarkZero on Wed Jan 23, 2002 at 06:59:37 AM EST

Dude, you forget to fit "Make no mistake" into your satire, there. ;)

[ Parent ]
Malaysian reaction.. (3.50 / 2) (#108)
by mystic on Tue Jan 22, 2002 at 08:19:44 PM EST



There is no propaganda motive, just profit (3.75 / 8) (#111)
by cs668 on Tue Jan 22, 2002 at 08:29:46 PM EST

When I go to a movie I have different expectations than when I watch the history channel or the news.

It is as simple as that.

At the movie I want to watch my team kickin some butt.

In the news I want all of the sordid details and take an honest look at our military's role in any conflict.

One is entertainment, the other is not. There isn't always a conspiracy.

That would be fine... (5.00 / 2) (#115)
by Kaki Nix Sain on Tue Jan 22, 2002 at 11:34:59 PM EST

... if everyone just separated the two, the entertainment from the history. However, the entertainment industry does so like to get some mileage from the whole "based on a true story" shit. But they don't like to pay the trouble of getting things right. That makes them historically cheap bastards who deserve all the flack that people can throw at them.



[ Parent ]

Maybe so, but... (none / 0) (#120)
by martman on Wed Jan 23, 2002 at 01:11:51 AM EST

I appreciate that entertainment should be enjoyable. But enjoyability and factual correctness surely aren't mutually exclusive. Not entirely, anyway. If they're going to alter history they should at least mention it. I think most people when they see "based on a true story" don't really stop and try to work out how closely the basis is. Basically, even if there is no real propaganda motive on behalf of the production company, it's still propaganda for the military.

"Everybody wants to save the earth; nobody wants to help Mom do the dishes."
--P. J. O'Rourke

[ Parent ]
quell surprise (3.75 / 4) (#116)
by vambo rool on Tue Jan 22, 2002 at 11:45:26 PM EST

Hollywood changes history. News at 11.

The last Hollywood movie that approached anything even remotely resembeling the facts was Tora! Tora! Tora!. And that was more than 30 years ago.

Recently Hollywood has changed history in:

This shouldn't be surprising and it shouldn't be news to anyone.



I agree (none / 0) (#125)
by Emir Cinder on Wed Jan 23, 2002 at 04:12:39 AM EST

For some of us too busy to read in depth on the subject we may find a reasonable condensed version from the PBS Frontline documentary
The rest will watch Hollywood's version. No big surprise, different entertainment for differnt people.

[ Parent ]
Another one to glorify the US (5.00 / 1) (#129)
by sjmurdoch on Wed Jan 23, 2002 at 05:22:54 AM EST

U571 Plot: The US capture the Enigma machine and use it to help win the war.

Fact: An Enigma machine was captured by the UK Royal Navy from a German sub, but this was long after the code was cracked by a team of Polish mathematicians, even before the US entered the war. Also the sub wasn't caled U571, this was just picked because it sounded good
--
Steven Murdoch.
web: My Home Page
[ Parent ]

Revision (none / 0) (#141)
by vambo rool on Wed Jan 23, 2002 at 10:24:01 AM EST

Doesn't is seem like Hollywood script writers all went to school with Mr. Garrison?

[ Parent ]
quell suprise (none / 0) (#139)
by Dr Sam Beckett on Wed Jan 23, 2002 at 10:06:56 AM EST

As for Braveheart, the introduction to the movie covers that for us....

History is written by those who hang heroes

Besides, quit yer bitchin'! I, for one, found the princess of France quite attractive.

[ Parent ]

BHD! (none / 0) (#150)
by gbojath on Wed Jan 23, 2002 at 02:30:31 PM EST

Personally, I did not know what to expect before watching the movie. My thoughts after seeing it a few nights ago this week, are:

1) If it was meant to make us think, it would have been along the lines of Platoon, or Apocolyse now. Which in my opinion BHD lacked.

2) I do not think that it portrayed the Somalians in a bad light, but it did high-light the situation any country would be in, if it was in the middle of a civil war.

The movie concentrated on highlighting the American involvement in the somalian situation. It had a too high RAPSOF (Rounds of Ammunition per Second Of Film), for it to actually make you think deeply about the film. Which in my opinion was to show how an armed conflict, can go sooo wrong, really quickly!

[ Parent ]

Based on a true story... (2.00 / 1) (#123)
by breser on Wed Jan 23, 2002 at 02:09:11 AM EST

Guys chill out the first text that shows up after the film starts running is that it's Based on a true story. Every story in film format or otherwise has to make some adjustments from the true facts. Don't take everything so god damn serious.

More extensive than that... (3.75 / 4) (#133)
by DarkZero on Wed Jan 23, 2002 at 07:08:49 AM EST

Even according to many of the American soldiers involved in the conflict, the movie "Black Hawk Down" really Hollywood-izes the events that took place in Somalia. Characters were liberally changed to common Hollywood stereotypes, with the most prevalent gripe being that a man that the soldiers described as "a killing machine" became the whiny, cowardly comic relief that you would see in most fictional American movies. And also, to a much larger extent, the movie was changed around the same way Saving Private Ryan and Pearl Harbor were. They make real people that died in a battle that was at least somewhat ambiguous (as almost all military conflicts are, with few exceptions) into little more than stock, video game-esque "baddies" for the wonderful Americans to mow down without any assistance, and also without any respect for history, accuracy, or sanity.

While I think this should definitely be publicized, I think most of us stopped being surprised or disgusted by such things a long time ago. Almost every Hollywood movie, whether or not it is based on actual historical events, presents us with the same character archetypes, the same morals, the same pro-America/pro-American-values slant, and often the same stock plot points and events. It's mindless crap for mindless people, and occasionally it tries to disguise itself to look like something better or bigger than it is by slapping the title "Based on actual events" (or a similar title) on itself.

I wonder why? (none / 0) (#163)
by Lenny on Thu Jan 24, 2002 at 01:09:53 PM EST

Almost every Hollywood movie, whether or not it is based on actual historical events, presents us with the same character archetypes, the same morals, the same pro-America/pro-American-values slant

You're trolling, but I'll bite anyway. You're complaining about Hollywood movies with an American slant. Geography and economics lesson: Hollywood is a city in California, and California is a state in the United States. Writers/Directors/Producers of Hollywood movies live in and make their living from the USA. How long do you think they would be successful if they made anti-American movies?

You don'e see people bitching at Saab for making Swedish cars. Don't bitch about Americans for making American movies.


"Hate the USA? Boycott everything American. Particularly its websites..."
-Me
[ Parent ]
Glorification (3.00 / 3) (#135)
by drquick on Wed Jan 23, 2002 at 07:51:29 AM EST

Even if it admittedly was fiction, I would be hyped by the exuberant America glorification. Why do these people have to oil their own fallos?

Actually it is fiction and what does it matter if they admit to that? Fiction can distort reality and the publics sense of truth, as these films do. More so if it's claimed to be historically correct. Most Americans have a romantically distorted idea of their own history. They believe in lies! Fiction did this and just a few "based on reality" fictional stories too. Like I said, the key point is not if it's acknowledged to be fiction.

I can't see why it's not understood that constant and repeated glorification of the same party does change peoples perceptions. As for 'Black Hawk Down', atrocities were done in Somalia. Now this war film - fictional or partially true - ignores that fact. This is how people are mislead and brainwashed. I wonder if the brainwash is just part of media culture (as it probably is) or deviously planned (as it probably isn't). However the debate has deteriorated into a discussion on if the film is factual or fiction. Even into hurt feelings over American pride and patriotism.

you're really stretching here (5.00 / 1) (#166)
by Hakamadare on Thu Jan 24, 2002 at 06:54:49 PM EST

Even if it admittedly was fiction, I would be hyped by the exuberant America glorification.

i'm really torn by statements like this, given the context. on the one hand, the rash of recent blockbuster war movies that are little but thinly disguised rah-rah propaganda are objectionable, both aesthetically and ethically. drquick, you are performing a useful public service by pointing out this fact.

it's really unfortunate, though, that you have chosen as a vehicle the one war movie i've seen in the past eight months that ISN'T a flag-waving propaganda flick.

i just don't see where you're getting the "exuberant America glorification". really. watch the movie again: the Rangers LOST. in fact, they got their ASSES KICKED by a relatively lightly armed, technologically inferior, disorganized force of amateur soldiers, whose only advantages were weight of numbers and knowledge of the terrain. what was supposed to be an easy, 30-minute operation turned into hours of hell and 19 American casualties (never mind the destroyed helicopters, which do not come cheap).

i don't know about you, but the rush of elation i felt at the end of the movie didn't come from feelings of "hoorah! America r00lz! we sure kicked some skinny ass today!", but rather, "wow, those guys actually survived, and brought their wounded back with them. that's amazing. i would have died out there." where's the glorification in watching a soldier die on a kitchen table? where's the glorification in seeing a mob tossing the lifeless body of a pilot? where's the glorification in seeing troops venturing out at night without their NVGs because they left them back at the base?

Ridley Scott may think that the Army wanted the movie made to alter public perception that the raid was a fiasco. perhaps this is, in fact, what the Army wants. but if you watch the film with an attentive eye and some knowledge of the history behind it, it's clear that while the raid was not a success from a military standpoint, it was a situation in which elite American troops performed commendably under very adverse conditions. if the raid was not effective, it's not due to a failure on the part of the troops in the field, and that's something of which they honestly deserve to be proud.

i'd understand your objections better if, say, this film had billed itself as a survey of the entire US (or UN) involvement in Somalia, and then had failed to mention the atrocities. but instead, this film covers specifically the events of a brief few days, in one area. if you can provide documentation of atrocities that occurred in the market in Mogadishu during the period of time that the film covers, you should probably take that up with Mark Bowden, and accuse him of whitewashing.

i'm sorry to keep ranting about this, but you, drquick, are essentially asking filmmakers to set aside their artistic goals in favor of making the film, for want of a better word, "educational". that's not how good films are made (though some good films are educational).

honestly, your arguments bring to mind the recent decision to alter the statue of the NYC firemen in order to make them multi-ethnic. the fortitude and bravery of the Rangers in Mogadishu deserves better than being hijacked to "raise public consciousness" about war crimes.

-steve
---
Schopenhauer is not featuring heavily on the "Review Hidden Comments" page at the moment. - Herring
[ Parent ]

You are *really* not getting the point (none / 0) (#170)
by drquick on Sat Jan 26, 2002 at 04:15:50 AM EST

Atroicities were done in Somalia and this film adds to the false perseption it's all about winning or loosing - thus about heroism. The war crimes committed will be forgotten.

[ Parent ]
aha, now we're getting somewhere (4.00 / 1) (#179)
by Hakamadare on Mon Feb 04, 2002 at 06:23:02 PM EST

Atroicities were done in Somalia

atrocities were done in every armed conflict since the beginning of time. war is atrocious. the war in Somalia was no better and no worse than any other.

people who want to be aware of this fact will be aware in spite of Hollywood movies. people who don't want to be aware of this fact will continue to maintain their illusions.

this film adds to the false perseption it's all about winning or loosing

but when you're an infantryman in combat, it IS all about winning or losing; it's about whether you live or die, and whether your comrades live or die.

drquick, have you ever been in serious, life-threatening danger? i'm not referring only to armed combat; a really close call on the highway is good enough, or a dizzy spell when standing on a high balcony, or a sharp tool falling off a workbench and missing your head by inches. mortal peril has a remarkable way of grabbing all your attention and making other considerations seem awfully trivial. one of the goals that a good war movie can accomplish is that of conveying this feeling to the audience; enabling them to feel an echo of that experience without actually risking their lives, to appreciate it viscerally rather than intellectually. art is good at that sort of thing; that's one of the reasons why we humans keep making it.

i'm a little disappointed that you seem unwilling or unable to appreciate heroism. i'm not asking that you wave a flag and cheer unthinkingly for the "good guys" (for the umpteenth time, that wasn't what this movie was about!), but it's distressing that you're so willing to dismiss all that is admirable about the performance of the troops involved in that mission.

-steve
---
Schopenhauer is not featuring heavily on the "Review Hidden Comments" page at the moment. - Herring
[ Parent ]

Simplicity (3.50 / 2) (#144)
by jforan on Wed Jan 23, 2002 at 11:47:25 AM EST

Just realize that everything you see that is presented to you is propaganda in some form or another. The level of propaganda may vary from a historical moment that someone chose to film and someone chose to show you, to movies like this one. aka: its just a movie. Jeff
I hops to be barley workin'.
Hate to nitpick, but (none / 0) (#153)
by broken77 on Wed Jan 23, 2002 at 04:49:19 PM EST

I wanted to educate you, in case you didn't know. You said "aka" where you should have said "ie". Pardon me if you knew already, and just mis-typed...

I'm starting to doubt all this happy propaganda about Islam being a religion of peace. Heck, it's just as bad as Christianity. -- Dphitz
[ Parent ]

yep, but a.k.a. also would have fit (none / 0) (#180)
by jforan on Mon Feb 04, 2002 at 06:29:32 PM EST

If I took a little more time to realize that "HTML Formatted" was selected instead of my usual "Plain Text" (I am lazy) post.

i.e.
that is

a.k.a.
also known as

"a.k.a." is more applicable if the statement following the abbreviation is well known. "i.e." is more applicable if that is not the case. "a.k.a." can also be used in certain situations to bring out other various emotions where "i.e." is extremely scientific in origin. Now, it is questionable as to whether or not "It's just a movie", or perhaps the more commonly heard "dude, it's just a movie!", is truly something that is well known. Unfortunately, however, you never got the real chance to view the intended representation of my thoughts, as I formatted my response incorrectly, and perhaps that lead to your interpretation. Please reread and repost as necessary:

<old_post formatting="corrected">
Just realize that everything you see that is presented to you is propaganda in some form or another. The level of propaganda may vary from a historical moment that someone chose to film and someone chose to show you, to movies like this one.

aka:

Its just a movie.

Jeff
</old_post>

Jeff

I hops to be barley workin'.
[ Parent ]
Rebuttle (4.88 / 9) (#147)
by dbc001 on Wed Jan 23, 2002 at 01:38:31 PM EST

The film gives another story. Vicious fanatics seek to hurt America and are taught a lesson. Canadian troops and the fighting done by the Malaysians is ignored

Have you seen the movie? Have you read the book? The book is not about the conflict in Somalia, the book (and the movie) is about The Battle of Mogadishu. Therefore, omitting info about canadian troops is a logical step. The book and the movie could easily have been three times as long if it had been about the conflict in Somalia. The movie mentions nothing about Somalia in the 1950s. I can guarantee you that one could find events that occurred in Somalia in the 1950s that led to the battle of Mogadishu. Does the film's failure to mention the 1950s constitute more lies? (or "rewriting of history" as you put it)

Are the lies in 'Black Hawk Down' prompted by purely commercial motives...

There is no doubt that the evidence that you presented here leads to this conclusion... NOT! You cant just make up connections like this. As far as the "lies" are concerned, check out the video interviews and audio transcripts at this online version of the original Newspaper Series. I have a difficult time believing how you can call anything about this series a "lie" when both sides are presented in such great detail (the author delves further into the Somalian side of the story in the print version of the book if from what I understand). Also check out the Q&A sessions, where you will find that many of the people involved in the conflict who were unable to speak "on the record" do indeed mention that this is an accurate representation of what happened.

Stories of murder and torture by Canadian "peacekeepers"

Would someone please explain to me how Canadaian crimes relate to the American involvement in this conflict? These seem like totally unrelated events to me.

-dbc

That will be the only film about Somalia conflict (none / 0) (#169)
by svampa on Fri Jan 25, 2002 at 08:49:41 PM EST

You say this film is only about Battle of Mogadishu, that would be right if there were going to be more films about Somalia. There are a lot of films about Vietnam and WW II from different points of views.

The Somalia conflict was a patetic fiasco of UN, "west countries peace", and of course USA. But 'black hawk' will be the only film about the matter, so a lot of people in USA will think "We didn't so bad, our soldiers are always heroes".

I don't know if it is a planned 'brainwash', or it is just that USA people only buys patriotism, so hollywood only sells patriotism. The issue will be the same, a distorsion of history and a public feelings according with this distrosion.



[ Parent ]
The Movies Purpose (none / 0) (#173)
by geekmug on Mon Jan 28, 2002 at 04:23:01 PM EST

The movies purpose is to tell a moving story, or at least take the movie-goer through a story. The movie is <u>not</u> required to tell everything the viewer needs to know. The movie is <u>not</u> required to predict the knowledge of the movie-goer watching the movie. I personally had not a clue of the story until I watched the History channel documentary entitled "Black Hawk Down" (which I think was probably better than the movie). Regardless, the movie served is purpose; whether the audience knows the full story surrounding the events or details of the actual events is irrelevant to the story telling.
-- Why reinvent the square wheel?
[ Parent ]
have you actually seen the movie? (4.33 / 12) (#148)
by Hakamadare on Wed Jan 23, 2002 at 02:07:59 PM EST

The film gives another story. Vicious fanatics seek to hurt America and are taught a lesson. did you see the same movie that i did? that's not the message i received at all.

some points:

  1. at no point in the movie are the Somalis depicted as "vicious fanatics" seeking to "hurt America". the only Somalis who appear as anything other than faceless AK-toting figures are Osman Atto, an associate of Aidid who is apprehended by the Americans early in the movie and makes portentous comments about how difficult it will be to catch Aidid, and another of Aidid's lieutenants (i don't know his name) who lectures the captured American pilot Michael Durant on the history of endemic violence in Somalia and the futility of expecting the violence to cease if Aidid is captured. i definitely got the impression that the Somalis resented the intruding American forces, that they felt it was "their war" and the Americans should butt out and go home, but the movie did not demonize the Somalis or portray them as America-hating fanatics.

    i'm belaboring this point because one of the aspects of the movie i enjoyed the most was the dearth of moralizing. the message of this movie is that war is hell, and that when you're in the thick of the action, all that matters is survival and sticking together. (the repeated motto "no one gets left behind" not only explains the conduct of the Rangers under fire, but also explains why their commander kept sending them back out into a hostile city.) when bullets are flying and people are getting hurt, there's no time for ideology (one Ranger is jokingly mocked by his comrades for being an "idealist", i.e. for caring about the fate of the Somali civilians). it's not black vs. white, or Industrialized West vs. Third World, or even America vs. Somalia, but rather it's invaders vs. locals; it's "guys with AKs and RPGs" vs. "guys with M-16s and 50cals".

  2. what's more, i'm not sure that the films shows the belligerent Somalis being "taught a lesson" by their American opponents. in fact, much of the movie focuses on the Ranger units being whittled down one by one, their technological advantage overcome by the sheer weight of numbers of their aggressors. in fact, the final sequence of the film shows a group of Rangers running out of the hostile area of Mogadishu (there is no room for them in the rescuing armored vehicles, which, incidentally, are clearly driven by Pakistanis, so :p to your claim that the film focuses solely on Americans), with a mob of angry Somalis at their heels almost all the way home. what's more, by the end of the film it's easy to forget all about the raid's purpose (ostensibly to capture some high-ranking members of Aidid's organization), and i think this was a conscious move on Ridley Scott's part; by the end of the mission, the American troops care about little else than getting themselves and their comrades safely back to HQ.

it requires a deliberately skewed perspective to see this movie as glorifying American military might. the film's central image, in fact, is that of a high-tech, fabulously expensive helicopter crashed in a dusty town square, brought low by a single guy with a rocket-propelled grenade launcher. for me, Black Hawk Down was a welcome change from the loads of jingoistic crap Hollywood has been giving us recently (Pearl Harbor, Behind Enemy Lines, to a certain extent this summer's Band Of Brothers); a war movie that both recognized the bravery and skill of troops in combat and also forcefully brought home the message that war is awful.

there is plenty of outright falsehood in mainstream Hollywood movies (and elsewhere, doubtless - i'm sure Hollywood does not have a monopoly on lying with film). but much of the criticism in this article is unjustified; drquick picked a poor target this time.

-steve
---
Schopenhauer is not featuring heavily on the "Review Hidden Comments" page at the moment. - Herring

I have not seen the movie but (3.00 / 2) (#154)
by Stretch on Wed Jan 23, 2002 at 05:14:58 PM EST

I have been somewhat obsessive as late to understand war and heroism, quite possibly directly due to Sept. 11. I have researched Black Hawk Down, as well as Vietnam, and parts of WWII recently. I do want to make a correction from what you stated.

the final sequence of the film shows a group of Rangers running out of the hostile area of Mogadishu (there is no room for them in the rescuing armored vehicles, which, incidentally, are clearly driven by Pakistanis

Just to clear up this little fact, the Delta Force guys were the ones who ran out of Mogadishu. The gov't/military does not acknowledge the existance of Delta Force so in public reports they (wrongly) are refered to as Rangers. Delta force wanted to give covering/surpressing fire to the convey as it headed out. The reason the D-guys ended up running out was because the Rangers and Pakistanis wanted to get the heck out of dodge.

To, perhaps, fill in the blanks, Delta Force is made up of mature (usually 30+ years old), smart (often speak 3+ languages), and fearless warriors. Best of the best. The rangers, while considered an elite fighting force, are usually 18-21 year old grunts and even if older, are not on the same level of delta force. The rangers, on average, did not perform as well as the delta team once things went wrong. You could hear it in the interviews, this is not my personal opinion. It doesn't help that delta force reported to a different group of superiors than the rangers and thus the could not communicate over the radio directly. Each team thought the other should listen to them so delta and the rangers ended up as kind of a two headed beast with the same goal in mind. Unfortuantely, that didn't work out so well when the convey left at top speed. Nothing I have read or heard indicates how many delta force personel were lost running out of the city (I would have to assume some were killed on the way). They may have been the ones later seen dragged through the street. =( Another correction I might as well make now is that at one point a bunch of rangers through grenades over a wall or into a building and one came back...due to its pin not being pulled the first time. I don't know how the movie handles it but "History vs Hollywood" series on the History channel glosses over this incredibly huge mistake. I thought that was quite unprofessional of History vs Hollywood.

[ Parent ]
Dragged body (3.00 / 3) (#158)
by gsl on Wed Jan 23, 2002 at 10:16:14 PM EST

Nothing I have read or heard indicates how many delta force personel were lost running out of the city (I would have to assume some were killed on the way). They may have been the ones later seen dragged through the street.

The best known (only?) footage of a body being dragged through the street was of Bill Cleveland, the crew chief on Durant's Super 64 Blackhawk (the second one shot down). That's the bit I remember anyway...

Geoff.



[ Parent ]
Hrm, indeed... (3.00 / 1) (#156)
by Robert S Gormley on Wed Jan 23, 2002 at 06:26:41 PM EST

"at no point in the movie are the Somalis depicted as "vicious fanatics" seeking to "hurt America". the only Somalis who appear as anything other than faceless AK-toting figures..."

Hrm, indeed.

[ Parent ]

your point is? (4.00 / 1) (#165)
by Hakamadare on Thu Jan 24, 2002 at 06:23:38 PM EST

are you asserting that every faceless AK-toting figure is an enemy of the American Way? way to stereotype. my suspicion is that if you took a poll of assorted local militias from around the world and asked them who The Enemy was, you'd be much more likely to hear "those guys from across the river" than "America, the Great Satan".

are you objecting to the fact that most of the Somalis in the movie are one-dimensional characters, distinguishable only by a distinctive headcloth or sunglasses? waaaaaaah. this film is a cinematization of a newspaper article, not a documentary. if the film focuses on the American characters to the detriment of the Somalis, that's most likely because Mark Bowden framed his article that way, and Ridley Scott is following his artistic lead. (i'm not saying that a more balanced movie couldn't or shouldn't be made; hey, i'd go see it! however, to make a movie about this event, to title it "Black Hawk Down", and then to have the storyline diverge dramatically from the newspaper article would be just a bit artistically dishonest.)

hrm back atcha.

-steve
---
Schopenhauer is not featuring heavily on the "Review Hidden Comments" page at the moment. - Herring
[ Parent ]

Of course it rewrites history (5.00 / 2) (#160)
by ariux on Thu Jan 24, 2002 at 05:37:44 AM EST

You know - it's a movie, like Shrek, Schindler's List, and Cinderella. It's supposed to present, not reality, but attention-catching fantasy.

If it were billed as a documentary, that would be another thing.

Aww! (none / 0) (#167)
by alge on Fri Jan 25, 2002 at 03:49:55 PM EST

Please don't compare 2001's best movie (Shrek) with this warporn horseshit...

vi er ikke lenger elsket her

[ Parent ]
Somalis cheer Black Hawk Down (4.00 / 2) (#161)
by danny on Thu Jan 24, 2002 at 06:41:41 AM EST

There's a BBC story on the Somali response to Black Hawk Down.
Thousands of Somalis have flocked to cinemas in Mogadishu for the opening night of Black Hawk Down, the war blockbuster based on the shooting down of two US Blackhawk helicopters in Somalia in 1993. Residents of the capital formed long queues outside more than a dozen cinema halls, jostling for the hottest ticket in town. But they were watching pirated copies of the film and applauded when the helicopters were shot down.
Fascinating how different perspectives can be! Danny.
[900 book reviews and other stuff]
Money (4.50 / 2) (#168)
by johnnyfever on Fri Jan 25, 2002 at 05:11:27 PM EST

To your typical flag-waving gun-toting american, these kinds of movies may be appealing. To the rest of the world, and I would hope to intelligent americans, these kinds of movies are 100% crap.

'Based on a true story' is 100% marketing bullshit. The reason they use the word 'based' in that phrase is so they can change whatever the hell they want. Usually what they change is whatever makes the US look bad. Quite natural I suppose since Hollywood is an American "institution"....if Hollywood was in England, we'd have to put up with the english winning all the time, the union jack being waved in our faces, and stirring renditions of God Save the Queen.

Despite that, I must say that I'm so sick to death of these Hollywood crap movies (~90% of Hollywood) which propose to be something they are most definitely not. You see the preview, it looks like a potentially decent, intelligent movie about some historical event, then you watch it and it's all "America good, everyone else bad."

I suppose that's not entirely accurate...much like the "blaxploitation" films of days gone by, a non-american isn't necessarily a bad guy. Quite the contrary...the have a bunch of roles for non-american characters: evil, stupid, or helpless. That way, the wonderful american(s) can either kill them, laugh at them or save them.

I haven't seen this film, but I can just imagine how much it is like so many others. It's laughable to portay them as a serious film in any sense whatsoever.

On the other hand, if I were an american making american movies primarily for the american public, I'd probably do the same thing...it's the easiest way to make the most money.

'Black Hawk Down' rewrites history | 180 comments (169 topical, 11 editorial, 0 hidden)
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