Friday, September 20, 2013
We were ticking time bombs, drug addicts, mentally disturbed due to some horrific experience we were forced to endure by the hated government of the time and we were subject to “flashbacks” where we would mentally find ourselves back in some battle, but in reality doing harm or killing innocent people, people we either didn’t even know or our loved ones.
That it was a lie did not even matter, it sold and convinced many to either fear us or to pity us.
The Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) ran a three part series earlier this year showing how Hollywood’s portrayal of Veterans changed during the Vietnam era and remains today mostly negative, March, April and May.
Veterans Organizations have worked double overtime to counter this false narrative of the damaged Veteran as have individual Veterans. We adopted the slogan “Never Again” to signify we would not sit still and allow today’s Veterans to be mistreated for their service as we were upon our return and after.
When factions within the country began once again targeting Veterans as they worked diligently to recreate the unpopularity around the War on Terror they did during Vietnam, I penned Veterans, Warriors and Heroes, not Victims where I brought out that many of those complaining the loudest about “deranged Veterans” are more at fault for the few who do experience trouble than the actual battle experiences they may have endured.
What I did not realize at that time, since I had largely stopped watching network television due to their pathetic programming lacking in talent and substance, was that the CBS network was returning to the era where the Veteran is the ‘heavy’ in crime dramas, running around murdering innocent people as some simple noise they heard set them off on a PTSD fueled rampage.
I am not going to individually go through every episode of every show, but will focus on just two programs, a February 2007 episode of Criminal Minds where “a post-traumatic veteran reliving a war zone” goes on a rampage in Houston, Texas, thinking he back in Mogadishu trying to protect citizens, but killing innocent workers who come down to his hiding place to see what is happening.
The Vet is killed by a sniper in the end, uttering only a hope the child he tried to protect was okay.
I figure that last line was to raise a little awareness, but they forget the many innocent lives the writers have him first kill and that requires assistance from the FBI in profiling who is doing all of the killing.
Fast forward now to popular daytime Soap Opera, the Young and the Restless.
In a nut shell, they brought in a character, Dylan McAvoy played by actor Steve Burton.
The character of Dylan was thought dead in Afghanistan and was the fiancé of the character Avery Clark, played by Jessica Collins.
As it usually is in unrealistic Soap Operas, she falls in love with someone else, thinking her fiancé dead, only to have him return and complicate the new life she is creating. It’s a tired old plot long overused in television.
But they have to drag this story line out even further and make matters worse.
Dylan meets another woman after Avery chooses the other man over Dylan, who has been convalescing in the hospital far away, thinking only of Avery. They have a one night stand, but the other woman is already pregnant from her ex-husband, a bad guy in the show and one she doesn’t want to know she is carrying his baby.
She tells Dylan it is his baby some weeks later and of course, he falls in love, she gives birth prematurely to a full-sized baby boy they name after his father, since they had just gotten married.
It doesn’t take long for him to discover the baby isn’t really his and of course, he is devastated.
He decides to leave is new wife and the baby he thought was his, asking only for a moment in private with the newborn to say goodbye.
But, it just so happens that this occurs during a thunder storm that sends Dylan into a flashback to Afghanistan where a little girl died in his arms that he was trying to save and couldn’t.
He kidnaps the baby to run and save it, sending everybody into a panic looking for him and when finding them couched in a cabin, holding a flashlight thinking it his service pistol, ends up being labeled a lunatic by the baby’s real father, the bad guy in this series.
Some of this story line can be seen in You Tube clips with more to be added, I’m sure.
But, is it really necessary to almost always portray the heroic Veteran as flashing back to the war and endangering those around him?
Especially since it is not even true.
But television and movies are powerful tools, many people accepting what they see as true, never bothering to actually check.
Why don’t they show Veterans as heroic Police, Fireman, Paramedics or even Icons of business and community, as most are? That is closer to the truth about the overall majority of Veterans.
But no, Veterans must be portrayed as damaged people, still ticking time bombs that even Fourth of July fireworks may send off on a murderous crime spree.
I have written CBS with my complaint on this story line, but doubt my voice will sway them. But maybe the more voices they hear from will have them reconsider and begin properly portraying Veterans in their shows.
It’s just a shame that all of these decades later, over 40 years after the Vietnam War, the same networks that went out of their way to portray and mistreat Vietnam Veterans now elects to do it again.
Well meaning or not, it is just wrong!
Posted by Lew Waters at 1:44 PM