Sunday, July 13, 2008

HBO Series shows Rolling Stone reporter journaling 2003 invasion of Iraq


Tonight (July 13) HBO premiered the first episode of its seven-part miniseries “Generation Kill” (film website: The series is written by Ed Burns, David Simon and Evan Wright. Episode 1, length 75 minutes, is called “Get Some” and is directed by Susanna White.

The series is adapted from the book by the same name by Rolling Stone reporter Evan Wright, (Amazon link: ) and that in turn had been based on a three-part Rolling Stone series. The current magazine reference to the series is here.

Wright arrived with the First Reconnaissance Battalion Marines on March 20, 2003, the day after President Bush had started his “shock and awe” attack on Iraq.

The film repeated shows the unit cohesion and the behavior of the men in the group, who talk in metaphors and refer to themselves as “warriors.” They sometimes make mock degrading remarks about homosexuals (this is the era of “don’t ask don’t tell”), and they tease the reporter about this issue. They also tease him as to whether he can stand wearing military gear and dealing with the hardships of combat.

The film shows overwhelming expanse of desert and military “tent cities”. (In Army Basic at Fort Jackson in 1968, I underwent “Special Training Company” at a “tent city.”)

The commander warns the men about accidentally firing on civilians. Later the men talk about the idea that most wars because of the lack of “something” (with a bad word) available to “normal” men.

Since this episode occurred before the April fall of Saddam Hussein, there is talk over whether Saddam would “negotiate.” They refer to Saddam as a “retard.” At the time of these events, many Americans believed that Iraq could have been involved with 9/11 or could possess WMD’s.

After an encounter with the enemy, one Marine says, "You know what happens when you get our of the Marine Corps? You get your brains back." Then a soldier frets that the war will end without a shot being fired. That, as we know, did not happen.

I recall a march on bivouac in Basic when I got actual laughter from the cadre when I said, "The Marines are tougher than the Army." That was 1968, again.

Episode 2 was called "The Cradle of Civilization" and first aired July 20.

The Marines march on. When they see a renegade tank in the desert, they stop and actually pick off snipers with their own expert sharpshooters. Later there is an urban battle.

Episode 3 (“Screwby”) continues the development of the characters. There is a false sniper attack, resulting in civilian casualties. The Marine enlisted men claim that officers call in attacks even when there are no targets in order to make themselves look good.

Visually, the episode is striking. There is a sequence of jeeps going down a field with tracks that look like railroad tracks until looked at more closely. You see how much gear the men wear all the time, driving with complex eyegear and covered in layers, even in 100 degree heat.

There is a lot of graphic “homophobic” conversation, more than in the first two episodes, and feints at pretending to be homosexual. One man pretends that he will open a gay bar when he gets home and then offers metaphorical epithets (not printable in a blog acceptable in this commercial environment for the name of the establishment. They make fun of “Big Gay Al” from Southpark (an comical and satirical animated show that I think as a lot of libertarian ideas commensurate with personal responsibility). They don’t “blame Canada.” They also mention NAMBLA. This is the Marine Corps, to be true, but as dramatized the episode does not bode well for removing “don’t ask don’t tell.”

One of the most harrowing scenes occurs when an Iraqi civilian must be treated, and the officers say they are not required to treat him beyond the care he would get from Iraqi authorities, which is zero.

Episode 4 is called "Combat Jack" and continues the problems with civilians.

Episode 5 is called "Burning Dog." The usual problems with civilians occur, and at one point the soldiers refer to a "f__t who writes novels on a laptop" back home. Is that me? The "expression" refer to a situation you can't handle by yourself. They talk about the enormous retaliation against surrounding population even for minor attacks and injuries.

Episode 6 is "Stay Frosty".

Episode 7 is "Bomb in the Garden".

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