Happy Veterans Day!
For the past week, I’ve been offering “Literary War Quotes” – quotes from classic pieces of literature, as a tie in to my latest obsession with Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare. I’m half-way through the campaign and have just learned that Kevin Spacey’s character is the bad guy. Who knew?
It is probably about time to conclude this series of posts with this quote:
“You were just babies in the war – like the ones upstairs! But you’re not going to write it that way, are you? You’ll pretend that you were men instead of babies and you’ll be played in the movies by Frank Sinatra and John Wayne or some of those other glamorous, war-loving, dirty old men. And war will look just wonderful, so we’ll have a lot more of them. And they’ll be fought by babies like the babies upstairs.” – Kurt Vonnegut, Slaughterhouse-Five
This quote, taken from Vonnegut’s 1969 novel, illustrates an ongoing problem in pop culture – glorification of violence. In TV, in movies, heck even in video games like the one I’m playing now, war is portrayed as exciting, noble, adventurous and so on. The heroic parts are played by actors who have never seen war. And while it is all well and good to portray the heroic and exciting aspects of war, there needs to be balance – the dark side of war needs to be shown as well.
Vonnegut’s point may have made more sense in his day. In his day, Sinatra or John Wayne would go on screen, do heroic deeds, give patriotic speeches, and then the audience would rarely ever see the blood and guts that occurs during war. Today, movies have done a complete turnaround and some may argue they show too much.
But overall, wars are usually fought by young people who are just starting out in life and learning about things – this is something we should keep in mind and it can be hard to do when Hollywood often portrays soldiers as battle hardened veterans ready for anything.
This may seem like a silly point to argue but the public can’t be led to think that wars are all flag waving and patriotic adventures, there is a steep price in human suffering that gets paid as well.
That concludes my series of quotes from literature about war. Sorry if it bummed you out, my intention was more to get people thinking. At any rate, it is time to move on to more lighthearted topics.
PS – Equally fitting because today is Kurt Vonnegut’s Birthday! Happy Birthday Kurt!