Thursday, October 14, 2010

Sir! No Sir!

Dir. David Zeiger, 2005



  2. Is it strange to think that “Sir! No Sir!” reminds me of a certain Beatles song? Obviously, there are numerous other films we have watched in this class that might better serve as a landscape for Beatles’ music. Certain representations attributed to each film include Woodstock with “I Am the Walrus,” Berkeley with “Revolution,” and Sir! No Sir!” with… “Strawberry Fields Forever”?

    “Living is easy with eyes closed… misunderstanding all you see. It’s getting hard to be someone but it all works out, it doesn’t matter much to me.”

    When watching “Sir! No Sir,” I noticed that the soldiers leaving the army did not fully realize who they were or what it truly was that they were assigned to do. This reason for the soldiers’ lack of self-identity was most likely due to the government forming and shaping their “subjects” into the perfect mold that was what the army expected them to be.
    I never want to view the soldiers in Vietnam at the time as inherently good or evil, I just want to think of them being there at the wrong time, being told to do questionable things, and that they should have had the choice to deny the draft.
    Sure, Nixon and Johnson saved millions of American lives in turn for a plethora of unwanted American deaths, but they obviously never knew what they were getting themselves into in the long run,.
    From what we have witnessed in “Sir! No Sir!”, “Berkeley in the Sixties”, as well as “In the Year of the Pig,” it truly is no wonder why the many young men and women detested the idea of fighting in Vietnam.
    I cannot even imagine putting myself in a situation, such as the Vietnam soldiers’ position. They were technically lied into being a part of a mass murdering group, they were helpless. How could they have known? From what we have seen, it was considered a duty to torture and burn “Charlie” villages.

    I digress:

    The black community was also inspiring to see from within the Vietnam army. The “handshake” scene was amusing, but also displayed a sense of how prisoners may act in the same situation as well.

    I also found the interviews with Jane Fonda to be quite inspiring. My past knowledge of her knew that she was somehow tied to the Vietnam protests, but I did not know exactly how. I appreciated how Zeiger used the interviews to show how her troupe ignored the military warnings about continuing the FTA shows.
    In fact, I found the shows to be rather a lot like Bob Hope’s during WWII.
    If not for “free the army,” where would the American soldiers patriotism lie?
    Without Jane Fonda and her message, many soldiers would have been blind to the reality of Vietnam. The FTA it was comedic, like Bob Hope’s, but unlike Hope’s shows, it had a deeper meaning to the rallies.

  3. The thing that struck me most about this one is the fact that so many soldiers were, in fact, anti-war. It's really a paradigm shift from today, where almost every soldier I've ever seen in the media or in any other format seems incredibly pro-war, even though both the Vietnam war and the Afghanistan/ Iraq war are both justified by similarly shaky bullshit premises. Maybe people are just easier to convince now? No clue.

    Also, the fact that they got Jane Fonda for this thing is pretty awesome. I'd always heard that Jane Fonda was incredibly politically active, but jesus, she was a fireball.

    All in all, I think this was a much more compelling film than The Year of the Pig, possibly because of production reasons, but I'm not enitrely sure why.

  4. Sir! No Sir! Is a powerful documentary that depicts much of the GI anti-war movement during the Vietnam War. It covers the US abuses in instigating the war and the military’s reaction to widespread resistance among its own troops. The bulk of the movie is eyewitness accounts by mostly veterans of the conflict and how they felt about the situations they were put in over in Vietnam. Parallels to the Iraqi conflict are unavoidable, but seem to be very much intentional in this film considering it came out in 2005.
    During Vietnam the United States military fought the war in a way that they thought was the most effective. These “ways” were usually barbaric and of things that American government did not want publicized whatsoever. Very much like that of the Iraqi conflict today. Considering both wars seem to be a more guerilla style of fighting where both terrains were difficult to navigate and where there insurgents knew its layout better makes if very tough for the US military to fight in a winning matter.
    There are so many similarities between the Vietnam and Iraqi conflicts. During Vietnam you had the torture and murder of tons of civilians as well as the bombing and massacring of villages. In Iraq it has become extremely difficult to separate combatants and civilians which in light make it arduous to avoid taking the lives of innocent civilians. Hearing most of these veterans speak about how they were ordered to take the lives of civilians for no real reason at all was heart wrenching. However, with the loss of civilians in both wars you never really hear the military account for their deaths as civilians but rather as insurgents.
    Both of the wars seem to have been by choice. It seems that in both of the conflicts we went with the wool pulled over our eyes and having no real plan or idea what we were getting into when we marched into these countries. While doing research one of the things that resonated with me were the statements made by Lyndon B. Johnson and George W. Bush. During the Vietnam War Johnson stated, “We will not withdraw, either openly or under the cloak of a meaningless course.” Bush made a statement which was very similar to that of Johnson which was, “We’ve got to stay the course and we will stay the course.” I feel that these statements ring true for exactly what has gone on in both of these conflicts, which is simply that we have had these “valid” reasons for going over to these countries but in the end Americans really don’t know what is happening over there and the wars just drag on and nothing seems to ever be accomplished.

  5. The story of the rebellion of thousands of government issued soldiers more commonly know as G.I.’s against the government who had agreed to originally fight for their government, no question asked. It was estimated that close to half a millions cases of desertion occurred during the relative span of the Vietnam war, approximately five years as far as the pentagon acknowledges. The military stockades were filled up, soldiers were being killed by their own troops commonly know as “Fragged,” not good times.

    Its kind of sad how this movie turned out, from an individual standpoint who didn’t really want to learn from the film it wasn’t at all interesting and to my recollection there hasn’t been any films made about the rebellion of American troops in this war before this film. But lets say I wanted to learn more about the war, in this film it did actively bring forward stories of the soldiers and a in depth look at the history of the propaganda and protest that were occurring. The film gave a good feel of how unique this large scale rebellion was and showed some footage that had never been seen before of the event s that occurred during the war.

    Probably the only interesting part of the film was the brief focus on how the governments and military made sure that this movement as a whole was erased from public memory or at least prevented it from become known on a mass scale. This documentary showed how well this rebellion was covered by local news and yet somehow the whole event has been erased from a public memory. Conspiracy theories like this one are fun to watch in documentaries, and if more time had been spent comparing the events that took place back then to similar conspiracies in American history it would have been a better film for the masses to enjoy and learn from.

    Probably the most important part of the film is how it showed the direct effect of this uprising and its effect on the military's actions today, even the actions the government took back then as it related to the war in Vietnam was pointed out. I suppose this was some sort of point of inspiration for the director but from a spectators view it was way to analytical and came off as text from a book leaving the audience in a state of boredom and on the verge of lethargy.

    Then the movie wrapped up on this long drawn out bit about some spitting hippies. The myth that antiwar activists routinely spat on returning soldiers and how it began, its effect on individuals, their attempts to find the event ever taking place, and so forth of related topics to spitting hippies. To most individuals who weren’t alive during that time period, most of this film was trivial and a waste of time.

  6. I agree with Travis when he mention the draftees being manipulated by the government therefore the lack of identity of soldiers. But think about WORLD WAR II which ended in 1945, and American soldiers came home as heroes.

    Think about the great beneficial implication resulted from that war in the favor of Americans. Remember the Bretton Woods Conference in 1944?

    Smart move! The war was still ranging, but US found the time to think and prepare to rebuild the international economic system with the help of 730 delegates from all 44 Allied nations.

    A few words about how US managed to become such a great economic power. John Maynard Keynes (he was British by the way) had a great idea. The world should have free markets which immediately will provide full employment. The leading Western economies were adopting he’s “meant no harm” ideas, giving birth in the coming years to capitalist governments.

    At Bretton Woods Conference, it was adopted a system of monetary management establishing the rules (institutions, and procedures to regulate the international monetary system) … who gets what or how much it has to pay in taxes in order to produce and sell outside the country. In other words it proposed one currency, US $ to be more specific, but it terms of gold fearing the possible inflation. Moreover, markets were (still) controlled thru taxes and regulations with the help of institutions such as the International Monetary Fund and the ancestor of the World Bank, established by the US government.

    All this power was intoxicating, including American citizens! Lets not forget the that being drafted was seen as an honor to defend your country (WW2/soldiers-heroes). There was also the threat of a possible nuclear war (Russia) => communisms spreading=> Vietnam War. So why f..k up with Russia when US can “divide and concur” ?!
    Not to forget that the draft was mandatory. Of course nobody had the guts to say anything. First of all because young generation was being manipulated not only by the government but by the society it self. “Your grandpa was a hero, your papa was a hero, even your brother! Now it’s your time to shine and make momma proud.” When you have 3-4 family generations dying in war like heroes, dying on the battle field becomes not only an honor but also a tradition.
    On the other hand there were those youngsters who really didn’t had a choice (very poor) even though they might have had disregarded the Vietnam War, fearing to become a person non grata.

    While some of them were just born killers or psychopaths. Now add all these sides and see what you’re left with. A handful of soldiers who did had the balls to speak their minds.

  7. While I can relate to draftees’ fears at some level, considering that there were people marching on the streets for everybody’s freedom in all the forms, the soldiers appeared to be namby-pamby. And I’m sorry for putting all soldiers in the same boat, because some of them do merit credit for standing up against the barbarism of US and Vietnam War. But can an individual’s good actions wash out for the cruelty or just “the close your eyes and sing a song” type of individual? I’m afraid not!

    There’s a shot from Berkeley in the 60’s that constantly invades my mind. There was a massive riot organized by the students to stop the drafting. I believe it was in 1965. The US start sending significant masses of soldiers in the same year, as a consequences of the Gulf of Tonkin Incident. Back to my shot, the protesters were trying to shut down one of the draft centers. I remember busses full of soon to be soldiers— making for many of them the final stop on their homeland— and students trying to stop this “hallucination” were trying to talk to these newbies to stand up, to revolt. At some point in this scene one of the draftees on his way into the unknown, attacks one of the students marching along the side. After a round of slapping, the student was trying to defend with words which lead to a irascibility of the soldier, the last one spits the student. Sounds familiar?! Sir, No Sir!

    So what was it that made Vietnam such an alluring place to die? I think they were just afraid of speaking their minds. But why? The fear of ridicule? Anyway, what ever it might have been, at the end of the documentary I came to the realization that people give up their lives for stupidest of reasons. Touchy moments throughout the film like s the veterans’ and soldiers’ anti-war movement; the song “Soldier We Love You”; FTA Show in which Jane Fonda starred draw cheering crowds of US soldiers throughout its tour of Pacific Asia; soldiers in Vietnam wearing peace signs in place of their dog tags, or going to jail for refusing combat duty. An overall message of this film is that memory of the pivotal social moment of the Sixties has been selectively edited (especially through the sugar-coated amnesia pills cranked out by the Hollywood vending machine). The soldiers’ and veterans’ antiwar movement has been erased from the public’s memory.

  8. sorry for my possible grammar mistakes...

  9. Majadi Radwan

    Sir no Sir was a documentary about solders that left the war. I liked this documentary the reason I liked this documentary a whole lot was it showed how basic labels and things we were told as human beings we were obligated to do by the powers that be could be broken as long as the majority stood together stuck to ther guns and dindt take the mans bullshit. but it was the first step in the powers that be in understanding how to control a mob and was the first ime i belive they started taking advantage of there knowledge and since this time there has been no war thats been oposed and virtually stoped by the people. i belive taht was th last generation that woundnt take no bull shit this generation would never stand up like that and he generation that did got screwed in the long run. this generation culdnt tell u the difference between irac an iran but knows how many kids angelina olie has. the young men who wanted to live here lives that werent volentered soldiers natually had better plans for them selfs instead of going there and dying for what. the did what anyone would do in that situation run. todays soldiers volenteer because most dont have a choice form were they sit. the people are diveded in 2010 stuc to there tv and not instrested in the politics that run there lives. my favorite scene in the movie was were they were throwing there dog tags on the steps of the capital the guy says like out of a line of a badass action flik and next time we are here we will take these steps. im sure they had differnt thoughts of never letting and uprising like that happen again. and it hasnt. this documentry is a mirror of this time exceptt for the unity of the people wich has strtigacly been broken over the years. this was a ime of the pack ur bags find a good spot to go campind road trips finding yourself the free sprit befor the televison became the powerful tool it has become today. to me these solders had great courage facing jail and remarks that they were cowards when all they were was scared kids that waned to stay home raise kids and follow there dreams wich alot of them probaly got good grades worked hard smart kids and it was all stripped because of a agenda that still none really knows what happend and defintly not why. i really felt for the young solders snd found myself thinking of what they could have become and there dreams being shatterd bascically over night. they still had the courage to oraganze. how many politicions avoided the draft and they ere going to throw these kids in jail. this was one of my favoorite documentrys of the calss thank you for shoing it i have sugested it o all my friends. the most coragious generation of americas to date.