Ex-Soldier Scolds Hollywood for Depicting Veterans as Unstable, Killers

Ex-Soldier Scolds Hollywood for Depicting Veterans as Unstable, Killers

The indie thriller Black Rock came out a few weeks ago but did little to distract movie goers from the likes of World War Z, Man of Steel or Pacific Rim.

The film caught Alex Horton’s attention all the same. Horton served with the U.S. military, and he was more than a little annoyed to see how Black Rock made U.S. military veterans into the film’s despicable villains.

Had Black Rock been an isolated incident, Horton would have brushed off the plot point. But Horton says Hollywood often depicts military veterans as unstable, cruel or worse, and that image is having a negative impact.

When it comes to portrayals, soldiers in war movies are case studies in archetypes–the tough guy, the soft nerdy one, the Brooklynite, Barry Pepper. But they’re generally normal, and in a good film, probably complex.

But the inverse is true for veteran characters who have left the military, most of whom tend to exhibit the most extreme cases of post-traumatic stress. John Rambo rampaged through a sleepy Oregon town, and Red Forman [from That ’70s Show], back from the Korean War, left a devastating wake of violence and abuse. Driven by their demons and guilt, war veterans onscreen are invariably unstable, violent and sullen.

Those images matter, especially when veterans try to find employment after coming back home.

Last year, the Center for a New American Security surveyed 69 companies on why (or why not) they hire veterans. Not surprisingly, more than half said negative stereotypes gleaned from media and popular culture made them wary of bringing veterans aboard….

War veterans are home, and we don’t want to kill you. Please let Hollywood know.


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