With Memorial Day weekend upon us, it’s not all about a day off and a barbeque, it’s about honoring and remembering those who made the ultimate sacrifice for our freedom. Really, it’s something we should be doing all year long, but in Hollywood it’s the opposite. They seem to take joy in dragging down our military. I guess it’s too much to expect them to show some respect and gratitude to those who defend their right to free speech, though, isn’t it?
Let’s take a look at 5 ways in which Hollywood portrayed the military unfairly on TV this season.
1. They Perpetuated the PTSD-triggered Killer Veteran Trope
On the Netflix series The Punisher, veterans are portrayed as killer time bombs. At local veteran counseling program we meet a young man named Lewis (Daniel Webber) who struggles with returning back to civilian life. Angry at a country that has seemingly turned its back on him and the Second Amendment, an unstable Lewis sets off a bomb at the Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms field office at Wall Street to send this message to the public, which he also provides in a letter to New York Bulletin reporter Karen Page (Deborah Ann Woll) as we see in this scene.
Forget about the titular character being a vigilante veteran, this guy is a Timothy McVeigh-like unhinged veteran with PTSD. It doesn’t do anything to help actual veterans suffering when they return home, it just pushes false narratives and fear.
2. They Tried to Turn PTSD into a Joke
On the other hand, we have HBO’s Curb Your Enthusiasm, which tried to turn PTSD into a joke in a spectacularly anti-veteran episode.
Victor: What the fuck is this?
Larry: You all right?
Victor: Oh, fuck. Pull over! Pull over! – 10:00. Redcoats, man. Larry, there’s fucking redcoats, man! – You motherfuckers!
Victor: Don’t tread on me, motherfuckers!
Larry: Come on!
Larry: Hey! No!
Victor: It’s your last day, you bitches. Get the fuck outta here!
Larry: They’re valets! Come on, man!
Man: Hey, please!
One of the worst things you could do is deter a veteran from getting the help he or she needs. Why would they do this?
3. They Called Serving in the Armed Forces “Cowardice”
On the Lifetime series UnReal, with follows the fictional dating show Everlasting, two suitors are going for the same girl. One, August, is a pacifist and one, Owen, is a veteran. In this episode, the producer, Rachel, needs to stir up some drama, so she asks August his thoughts on Owen wearing his uniform.
Rachel: Owen he’s not in a tux. What do you — How do you feel about him wearing his military uniform tonight? I mean, I know that you’re a pacifist.
August: Yeah, I am. Um, all right. I’m not really into the military’s mission myself, but I just try to live and let live. Owen’s not a bad guy. I’m sure he believes in what he did over there.
Rachel: What do you think he did?
August: I mean, I know that we’ve all seen the pictures of those dead children. I mean, Owen wouldn’t — In any war, every soldier has some responsibility for what happens.
Rachel: But most people think that the troops are unbelievably brave.
August: Look, I can’t think of anything more brave than standing up for what I believe in, which is the dignity of human life. I mean, soldiers enforce fear and submission. I’ve worked all around the world to promote peace. I’ve been out there on the front line.
Rachel: Yeah, but not like a veteran has, not really.
August: More than a veteran has, and I was unarmed. What is weak is hiding behind a uniform and armor and machine guns, and then you go and call yourself a hero? Sorry, but that’s my definition of cowardice. Uh, are we done?
Well, Owen ended up seeing the footage, as Rachel knows he will, and a fight predictably breaks out, even though Owen has been the sweetest guy all season (and a good dad to a little girl, to boot).
Owen manages to share a few hard truths, but August gets in several more low blows.
Owen: Hey, what the hell have you been saying about me, man?
August: Listen, I don’t want to be involved in any aggression, all right, mate?
Owen: I’m defending myself against aggression. Against your attack on the military I risked my life serving in. You got a problem with that? Say it to my face.
August: Yeah, I do have a problem with it, okay? That’s what pacifism is.
Quinn: Turn off the stage mic and turn up the contestants’ lavs. Put ’em through the speakers now!
August: -What about them?
Owen: It’s not that simple, man.
August: Oh, it’s not?
Owen: There are sick individuals in this world who prey on the weak and vulnerable. Somebody’s gotta stop ’em, and I’m sorry, but they don’t exactly respond to incense and drum circles.
Quinn: This is great.
August: But how many people have you hurt or killed because you had the power of deadly weapons, mate? How many women, Owen? How many children?
Owen: If I were you, I would shut my mouth right now.
August: What if your daughter was a little Iraqi girl? Would those Iraqis matter to you then? I’m not gonna fight you, mate, all right? I’ve got principles.
Owen: Oh, yeah, it’s easy to hide behind principles when you have the privilege of living in a bubble where you never had to make hard choices.
August: No. Be honest, mate. This is who you really are — a fighting machine. The military took your humanity. They made you all killers.
Cowardice? Fighting machines? Killers who lack humanity? This is definitely an unfair depiction.
4. They Depicted Those Who Serve as Selfish
In the exact same episode as above, Curb Your Enthusiasm made fun of patriotic Americans who thank military members for their service while mocking the military, painting them as egotistical.
Victor: Mrs. Greene.
Susie: Oh, my baby.
Sammi: Hi, Mom. Victor, my boy.
Victor: How you doing? How you doing?
Susie: Okay, so this is our friend, Richard Lewis.
Richard Lewis: Thank you for your service, bro.
Victor: Oh, thank you. Thank you.
Susie: And our neighbors, Leslie and John.
Leslie: What a hero you are. Thank you for your service.
Victor: Oh, thank you. The real heroes are still there, but I appreciate that.
John: Thank you for your service.
Victor: Thank you. You have a grateful nation.
Susie: And this is our friend, Larry.
Larry: Hey. Hey. Nice to meet you.
Victor: Um, yeah, it’s, uh…You know what? Um, I’m gonna excuse myself.
Sammi: Victor. Victor.
Larry: Huh? What– what’s…?
Susie: You didn’t thank him for his service, asshole.
Larry: They thanked him. Three people thanked him. Why do I have to thank him?
John: Fuck, how hard would it have been? “Thank you for your service.”
Larry: Does everybody have to thank him for his service?
Susie: Now you’ve ruined everything, Larry. I’m making all this delicious salmon, and the whole night is ruined.
Larry: Are you sautéing that?
Larry: Would you mind broiling mine? That a face?
Susie: Get the fuck out. Leave.
Larry: Hmm. Okay. Thank you for serving the hors d’oeuvres.
Larry: Um, thank you for being a very good manager. Thank you for coming over in this brisk weather.
Susie: Thank you for leaving!
Is there anything less selfish than serving one’s country?
5. They Portrayed the Military as Full Of Rapists and Bigots.
In this episode of SVU, a prostitute was raped, beaten, and left for dead in a hotel room. Of course, the perpetrator of this horrible crime turned out to be a member of the U.S. Military. Another soldier didn’t want to testify because it turns out he’s transgendered, and then he became the victim.
Jim: I didn’t do anything, Lieutenant. I didn’t touch her.
Benson: I know that, Jim. I know. I bet when you enlisted, you were in high school.
Benson: You could have done anything with your life, and you chose to serve your country.
Jim: And if I testify, my country will attack me.
Benson: Not your country. Some closed-minded people who work for—
Jim:…a difference without a distinction. I’d like to help you put Staff Sergeant in prison, but if I do, I’ll be putting myself in a prison of my own making.
Benson: Kind of like the one you’re in now? You’re worried how your fellow soldiers will see you?
Jim: I’m so far beyond that. The least of my worries is having people laughing at me behind my back, craning to get a look at me in the shower. But once I’m outed to officials, there’s no going back in. And by the stroke of a tweet sent from Air Force One, I could lose my job. My career. Everything I’ve ever worked for.
Benson: I know that things feel… uncertain. But do you get any comfort knowing that that tweet did not become a law?
Jim: Today maybe. What about tomorrow? I don’t know what’s gonna happen. Do you?
Benson: No, I don’t.
Jim: Look at me! I’m a soldier, Lieutenant. A damn good soldier. I couldn’t stand being stuck behind a desk. I love what I do. This job is who I am.
Not only was this service member a violent rapist, they got in an unnecessary dig at the Commander-in-Chief, too.
The majority of television shows followed these anti-military themes. But occasionally, some shows portrayed service members as good people serving their country.
While CBS’s SEAL Team didn’t always show the SEALs in a positive light, at least team leader Jason (David Boreanaz) was consistently shown to be the voice of truth, justice and the American way.
In this scene, they are standing in a Syrian hospital full of dying civilians who have been exposed to the nerve agent VX and Ray (Neil Brown, Jr.) sarcastically asks if the United States really are “the good guys” if we’re the ones who produced the chemical. Fortunately Jason is there to explain the little nuance that many liberals don’t understand that sets the U.S. apart – we don’t actually use chemical weapons on people!
Ray: You know we invented VX, right?
Jason: Sorry, what?
Ray: Yeah. Well, actually, to be fair, the Brits did first. But they did it by mistake, and as soon as they realized how toxic it was, they stopped making it. A few years later, the U.S. Army goes into mass production. We’re the good guys, right?
Jason: You know what? We are the good guys, Ray, because we’re not actually using this stuff.
America isn’t perfect, but we are the good guys. There are bad people in this world who intend to do us harm, and we should be grateful to those who volunteer and give the ultimate sacrifice to keep us safe and America great. We can’t expect much from Hollywood, but let’s be sure to spend time this Memorial Day to remember and honor the fallen who gave us so much.