Hollywood and Vietnam: The Fading Vietnam War Narrative
The paper examines selected American films from the 1950s-1990s as documents of American attitudes that created an atmosphere that helped enable the war in Southeast Asia to take place. The films also serve cultural artifacts that re-visioned the war in the 1980s and 1990s. It employs a contextual methodology and an interdisciplinary framework. Building upon established images of Asia and Southeast Asia in 1950s adventure films, the study compares how subsequent historical epics, such as El Cid, successfully marketed the concept of ‘Americanism’ in popular culture. With the premiere of The Green Berets, however, this marketing and sales technique began to break down and fail until ultimately appearing as a parody of itself in Air America. Finally, the study takes note of how the image of the Vietnam veteran and, indeed, the war itself was revised and re-imagined in the 1980s in television series such as Magnum P.I. and feature films such as First Blood and Rambo: First Blood Part II. These films and narratives were once easily recognized and highly rated (in terms of attendance and viewership). The unpopularity of the war and its aftermath, however, has conspired to make many of these productions fade from popular memory in current times.
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