The New Science Fiction View of American Soldiers

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This post is dedicated to my brother, LTC Floyd R. Harris, United States Army (retired – sort of)

If you have been a life long devotee of science fiction like The Pink Flamingo, you may be familiar with patterns within the genre. One of the mos fascinating insights into American society can be observed by watching the way the American military, soldiers, and former soldiers are treated. The same can be said of the movie/television genre in general, but science fiction is usually ahead of the trend.

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At the end of World War II the American Soldier was the hero. He was Apple Pie, Jiltin’ Joe, and John Wayne all thrown into one great big hot dog with a flag and a fire-cracker for garnish. He could do no wrong. This same soldier protected us during the Cold War from the invasion of numerous alien hordes. By the mid-1960s things were taking a more sinister turn. Anti-war paranoia was in full spring. The American Soldier was now evil personified. He was a psychopathic baby killer, an object of paranoia and scorn, Rambo on a rampage.

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The only point of light in this grim hatred of the American Soldier was the swaggering, macho, heroic James T. Kirk, who personified every great myth of American legend.

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Warping into the 1970s when films were a nightmare from hell, one memorable portrayal of the military was George Peppard’s cardboard stiff character in Damnation Alley. We blew ourselves into evolutionary oblivion with the Planet of the Apes series. Then George Lucus and Steven Spielberg single handedly saved the movies. But, the Force was not with the military, and the Empire was evil.

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Glen Larson, who helped produce Star Trek Classic, wasn’t finished with the image of the American Soldier. Ronald Reagan was elected POTUS and a month later Thomas Sullivan Magnum single handedly began reforming the image of the former baby-killing Vietnam Vets. (sigh). Tom Selleck’s Republican leanings, Glen Larson, and Donald P. Bellisario began to reform the vile image of the American Soldier. Magnum, P. I. was a reflection of Ronald Reagan’s Republican spirit.

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