In the the late Seventies, Hollywood, which had previously steered clear of truth-telling Vietnam epics, started to roll out movies rife with disillusionment and guilt. Films like The Deer Hunter and Apocalypse Now dealt head on with the horrifying realities of that war. Yet by the early Eighties, the mood shifted. Buoyed by a strengthening economy and the return of a patriotic zeal, a new kind of Vietnam War flick emerged. Instead of facing the grief of failure, Missing in Action, Rambo II and Uncommon Valor wrote a new ending casting American forces as unequivocal victors and liberators.
Fifteen years later, will a similar redemption fantasy repeat itself for Iraq? As the U.S. enters its sixth year of combat, Hollywood has already started to dip its toes into those cloudy political waters of the Middle East. Recent offerings like In the Valley of Elah and Stop-Loss paint a picture of young men destroyed by war much like the returning veterans 30 years prior. However flawed the comparing Iraq to Vietnam may be, it remains a distinct possibility that, as history repeats itself, Hollywood will too. Here’s hoping Chuck Norris is available for another tour of duty.