JWR Roger SimonMona CharenLinda Chavez
Paul Greenberg Larry ElderJonathan S. Tobin
Thomas SowellClarence PageWalter Williams
Don FederCal Thomas
Political Cartoons
Left, Right & Center

Jewish World Review /July 30, 1998 / 7 Menachem-Av, 5758

Don Feder

Don Feder "Small Soldiers" -- a fractured Vietnam allegory

WHAT'S WRONG WITH "SMALL SOLDIERS," the summer's action flick for pre-teen audiences? Critics are focusing on the violence and missing its deplorable depiction of American soldiers as mindless killing machines.

The movie's premise makes "Attack of the Mutant Ants" seem realistic. A toy company is taken over by a defense firm. Sophisticated weapons chips are implanted in action figures. Voila, the Commando Elite, a squad of self-animating G.I. Joes with murderous minds of their own.

The Commandos are designed to search out and destroy the "Gorgonite scum" -- philosophical, whimsical creatures from another world, part hippie, part Hobbit.

When the 15-year-old son of a toy-store owner imports the figures (unaware of their abilities), all Hasbro breaks loose in his small Midwestern town. The Commandos, led by the maniacal Capt. Chip Hazard, launch a take-no-prisoners assault on the Gorgonites and their human allies.

Nail guns, chainsaws and other tools and housholds devices are turned into lethal weapons and a battalion of Barbies are transformed into amazon warriors.

Like much of what comes from Hollywood, "Small Soldiers" is glaringly hypocritical -- preaching pacifism and serving heaping portions of violence.

The Commandos are gung-ho, can-do and determined to destroy the neighborhood to fulfill their mission, while mouthing mangled cliches like, "Damn the torpedoes or give me death."

In the 1984 film "Terminator," our computers turn against us and unleash Armageddon. Now, instead of our military technology, its our war toys that are out to get us.

The movie's unmistakable message to its juvenile audiences: Soldiers are remorseless savages programmed to kill. Moreover, from their appearance and speech, these are clearly American soldiers.

To emphasize their depravity, the Commando Elite are contrasted with the Gorgonites, who (ET-like) only want to go home and would need a massive dose of steroids to reach the level of aggressiveness of the Dalai Lama.

"Small Soldiers" is a Vietnam allegory. In that conflict, the left insists, America's Commando Elite traveled halfway around the world to launch a lunatic war against Third World Gorgonites who only wanted to be left alone.

In reality, the gentle Gorgonites of the Viet Cong executed 3,000 civilians during the 1968 Tet Offensive alone. After the U.S. withdrawal, the real butchery began.

The myth of the monster American soldier originated with the anti-war movement. Since the Hollywood of today is '60s heart and soul, the entertainment industry is among the most fervent apostles of this creed -- witness nine out of 10 Vietnam war movies, from "Platoon" to HBO's "A Bright, Shining Lie."

The news media is no less committed. Two weeks ago, CNN founder Ted Turner (husband to Jane Fonda) apologized for the network's false report that American forces in Vietnam had used deadly sarin nerve gas on defectors. Is there any lie about American policy in Southeast Asia, and the men who fought there, that the left will not believe?

A quarter-century of indoctrination has left many with the impression that everyone who served in Vietnam was a war criminal who (like a programmed action figure) burned villages, tortured prisoners, and shot women and children.

In Hollywood's imagination, and implausibly enough, the descendants of the dogfaces who are portrayed so nobly in "Saving Private Ryan" become a reincarnation of the Wehrmacht 25 years latter.

In the My Turn column of the June 1 Newsweek, Robert J. Brudno writes of his brother, a pilot who was a POW in North Vietnam for seven and a half years.

Brudno: "He went to Vietnam in September 1965 because he was told to. He did not go to bomb churches and hospitals, or because he hated the North Vietnamese, or because he was a killer. He went because his country asked him to, as it would have against a Hitler or a Saddam Hussein."

Within months of his release, and after years of torture, Air Force Capt. E. Alan Brudno committed suicide.

One day, the kids who are being dragged to see "Small Soldiers" may be asked to go somewhere for their country, whose survival might depend on enough Americans choosing to make the trip. The more Hollywood slanders our soldiers, the less likely the citizens of tomorrow are to be honor-bound and duty-driven.


7/27/98: Crime wave hits hometown
7/22/98: Love in an Internet fishbowl
7/20/98: Ads bring ex-gay movement out of closet
7/15/98: Brian and Amy -- the children of Roe
7/13/98: Why are we scared of obnoxious 'activists?'
7/6/98: Fonda still resists reality
7/1/98: New York blesses domestic partnerships
6/29/98: Teddy and Calvin stood for virtue
6/24/98: Will Clinton betray Taiwan?
6/22/98: Big tobacco? What about big casinos?
6/15/98: Religion -- God for what ails you
6/10/98: Planning Clinton's China itinery
6/8/98: Republicans' Custer offers advice
6/4/98: Oh, Dems Christian-bashers!
6/2/98: Goldwater did conservatives more harm than good
5/27/98: A Clinton-hater confesses
5/15/98: Giuliani's assault on marriage
5/13/98: Hillary knows what's best for everyone
5/11/98: To honor her would not be honorable
5/6/98: Conservative chasm: pragmatism vs. worship of marketplace
5/4/98: Anglo-saxon me
4/29/98: Needle exchange programs are assisted-suicide
4/27/98: Chretien's mission of mercy to Fidel
4/22/98: School-choice is a religious freedom issue
4/20/98: Corporate execs deliver body parts to Beijing
4/14/98: National sales tax --- looks better all the time
4/13/98: The U.N. sinister? Hey, where did that idea come from?
4/8/98: Unions fight workers rights in 226 campaign
3/30/98: Africa's leaders should apologize
3/25/98: GOP shouldn't look to media for advice
3/22/98: You should care about Clinton's 'private life'
3/19/98: Color-coded reading, product of obsessive minds
3/16/98: Amendment will end exile of G-d from our public lives
3/9/98: Havana will break your heart
3/2/98: Vouchers Terrify Teachers' Union
2/25/98: Presidential politics starts at a resort hotel
2/23/98: Hillary's support comes at a price
2/18/98: How many times must we say "no" to gay rights?
2/16/98: Enoch Powell spoke the truth on immigration
2/11/98: Bubba behaving badly
2/9/98: A conservative dissent on the flag-burning amendment
2/5/98: We get the leaders we deserve
2/2/98: Send a signal that could penetrate boardroom doors
1/27/98: State of the president: hollow rhetoric
1/25/98: For Monica's playmate, we have no one to blame but ourselves
1/22/98: At Yale, bet on yarmulke over gown
1/19/98: Commission tackles America's fastest-growing addiction, gambling
1/15/98: Capital punishment and the hard case: no exceptions for Karla Faye Tucker
1/12/98: Partial-birth abortion and the GOP's future: the "big tent" meets truth in advertising
1/8/98: IOLTA: the Left's latest scam to crawl into our pockets
1/5/98: Connect the dots to create a terrorist state
1/1/98: The Unacceptables of 1997: Long may they rave
12/28/97: Hypocrisy is a liberal survival mechanism
12/23/97: Chanukah is no laughing matter
12/22/97: No merry Christmas for persecuted Christians around the world
12/18/97: Bosnia, Haiti, and how not to conduct a foreign policy

©1998, Boston Herald; distributed by Creators Syndicate, Inc.