Opening this weekend, “12 Strong” is a movie depicting the first military offensive against the Taliban in Afghanistan after the September 11, 2001 terror attacks — a tale of 12 Army Green Berets who befriend members of the Afghan Northern Alliance and go into battle outnumbered and on horseback.
The film is about heroes, but like many modern examples of American military might, it has triggered those on the far left, some of whom are now insisting that in the post-#MeToo era, Hollywood abandon films about war because they promote “backwards” ideas and “glorify outdated models of masculinity.”
Now, the “toxic masculinity” defeated an international terror organization on the sands of an unfamiliar country, sending its leader into the wilds of Pakistan and destroying the Al Qaeda network which had just killed more than 3,000 American citizens on United States soil.
But, according to The Intercept, it’s time to put an end to glorifying heroics demonstrated during war.
“Hollywood has shown itself capable of making excellent war movies (think ‘Three Kings,’ ‘Paths of Glory,’ and ‘The Best Years of Our Lives’), but most are problematic,” writes Peter Maass. “Some of the biggest war movies of the post-9/11 era don’t just show violence in ways that are often gratuitous and occasionally racist. They model a cliched form of masculinity that veers from simplistic to monstrous.”
“12 Strong” is in Maass’ crosshairs (if we can use that clearly military-oriented term). It’s a blockbuster, Maass claims, that checks all of the boxes that make “12 Strong” a great war movie — but those happen to be the same boxes that undermine the progressive effort.
“In the same way that Hemsworth’s assault weapon goes rat-tat-tat and the bad guys fall like bulleted dominoes, the scene itself checks off one born-in-Hollywood cliché after another: of the rugged gunslinger, the warrior in camo, good versus evil, the modern vanquishing the profane, a man at his fullest,” Maass whines.
That “masculine nonsense,” Maass claims, “does violence to us all.”
Of course, he’s not saying soldiers don’t deserve to be recognized. He just prefers that movies about war argue against the concept of international armed conflict and, perhaps, in favor of hugging it out so that no one is ever hurt, and no member of the military is ever exposed to harm. He’d prefer war movies depict the “real” cost of war — the lives destroyed, the posttraumatic stress disorder, the violence, and perhaps ultimately, the defeat.
Americans should know the cost of war, but most Americans familiar with the military already do. In fact, most believe that the cost of war is the price paid to maintain the free society, and they respect that cost by honoring veterans and, of course, making films that depict the incredible acts of heroism that often go unheralded in the modern day.