Thursday, July 16, 2015


What should have been considered before going to Iraq or Afghanistan


This play as such is pure agitprop against the Vietnam War but six years after the defeat. The action takes place something like one year after the Tet offensive. The essential characters are various draftees of various ethnic origins. The objective of the play is to show how the draftees can only survive by using some kind of derivative, subterfuge, drug, alcohol, or whatever. The atmosphere is over-macho and the relations between these men who are ready to cry for the one who dies, for the “friend” who dies, is permanent existential confrontation not with violence, most of the time, but with an extremely dark black humor that can be racist, sexist, or just hostile in any funny way. But this hostility is seen as a communion between these men who are thus negating the promiscuous situation in which they are tethered and locked up and that’s the only way they have to save their sanity.

The other type of people, rather on the side in the play though essential in the armed forces, is the lifers, the professional soldiers who live with some kind of military jingoistic ideal: to kill enemies is for them a fine art and the proof that they are real men. The draftees are by definition anything but men. You can imagine all the insulting names they can call them, in their backs of course, never in their faces because they are somewhere afraid of these “hooligans” and “freaks” who are absolutely unpredictable. Their vision and understanding of what a man is has nothing to do with humanism, enlightenment, tolerance, open-mindedness or Christian faith. A man is a brute that dominates the world, and first of all women as a lover or a husband, then children as a big brother or a father, then draftees as a sergeant or a commanding officer.

The play is showing how the two types of men in these US armed forces are in fact doomed to kill each other. Their hatred is such that there cannot be in the situation of an advancing enemy any other solution than kill the each other and one another. Unluckily that leads to dying in the ends of your own associates and the survivors will be killed by the enemy. The play gives a few anecdotes and one situation in which the enemy is described as a plaything you can insult, brutalize, use in any way you want and eventually carve to death with a bayonet or a knife or whatever you find handy at the time. That absolute segregation spirit against the Vietnamese in general and the Viet Cong in particular is also a cause of the defeat.

If you do not respect your enemy you are bound to be defeated by him because he will be more intelligent than you because you will act dumb and deaf and blind and altogether brainlessly. In a war if you do not think you are killed sooner or later.

There is little Indian stuff in this play except Breed, a man who cannot go back to his reservation because of the violence there, because his woman has been taken by his own cousin, and because the horror of the war forces him to be drunk every night if he wants to sleep and stop hearing the shouting and the yelling and the bombing and the firing of the daytime. He is also typically racist towards the Vietnamese, which is another way to keep some sanity in an insane situation.


Comments: Post a Comment

<< Home

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?