The Vietnamese Amnesia
1974 onward was a time of great disillusionment and a hazed denial of America’s involvement in the Vietnam war, the 80’s developed a revival of interest and reflection within the failings of the U.S. Army and its overestimation of the countries of Vietnam, Laos and unofficially Cambodia. The lack of faith towards the Army and other governing bodies was misplaced with the Republican Reagon and the rise of the efficient and affluent workplace. This amnesia of the events that had been shipped back to the United States through the testimony of such veterans as Ron Kovic and the Nightly News had been all but forgotten, even though the Vietnam War was the most graphically portrayed in the nation’s history.
This reinvigorated interest brought about by a malaise of psychological denial of many citizens whose history of glory has left them in such an unpatriotic place allowed a retelling of the American story of the Vietnam War.
Authors, articles and Government inquiry built a strong basis for the Hollywood machine to adapt the story into a conventionally ‘Good’ vs ‘Evil’ tale. The Deer Hunter (1978) showed the damaging Psychosis of the Vietnam veterans, hardened and often inhuman because of the very nature of the War, Vietnamese Brutality and the effects of returning to a home that no longer holds the childhood innocence that made it so. Again the Physical effects were captured with the Veteran returning Handicapped from infection, similarly displayed in Born on the Fourth of July (1989) where the biographical basis shows it’s realism, the lead character returns still patriotic but also separate from those who have not experienced the War. The 1980’s drafted the concepts very differently with Heroic feats of bravery and honesty at their forefront.
Platoon (1986) was that very example, covering a wide diversity of meaning, such as the Race issues, drug use, and the disillusioned soldiers for whom the war is another day on the calendar, the depiction of the end battle with the protagonist surviving solely, through his own defiance, Apocalypse Now has the protagonist survive yet the war is not painted in such a way as to drescribe salvation.
The Vietnam Veterans Memorial however is scarcely that of the film industry, it is ‘A Shrine to the Dead’