'Whiskey Tango Foxtrot' is a funny war memoir that will make you want more - We Are The Mighty
MIGHTY MOVIES

‘Whiskey Tango Foxtrot’ is a funny war memoir that will make you want more

“She’s Kim Baker, I’m Kim Barker,” Kim Barker tells me. She’s the New York Times metro reporter and author of The Taliban Shuffle: Strange Days in Afghanistan and Pakistan, on which the Paramount Pictures film Whiskey Tango Foxtrot is based. Barker is referring to Tina Fey and her performance as Barker’s embedded journalist in Afghanistan.


“I think she did a really good job,” Barker says. “I’ve seen a lot of her performances. Obviously I saw 30 Rock, and this is, I think, the most nuanced performance that she’s ever given. And I’m not just saying it because it’s supposed to be me.”

In Whiskey Tango Foxtrot, Fey is a television news copywriter living an ordinary life when her network opts to send a correspondent to Afghanistan. An executive gathers potential reporters fitting a certain profile – those with little to lose – to offer them the position. Fey’s Kim Baker accepts and is quickly in country learning the ropes. She’s green, doesn’t speak any foreign languages, and has no knowledge of Afghan customs.  

There she meets photographer Iain MacKelpie (Martin Freeman), fellow reporter Tanya Vanderpoel (Margot Robbie), and her restrained, cautious guide Fahim (Christopher Abbott). Baker quickly learns the ropes about reporting on an “embed” (embedding with a military unit) and life in the “kabbuble” (a play on words describing how life for foreign civilians in Kabul is life in a bubble). She also meets Afghan power broker Ali Massoud Sadiq (Alfred Molina) who takes an immediate liking to Fey’s Kim Baker.

Though there are some combat sequences when Baker embeds with U.S. Marines (led by a Marine officer played by Billy Bob Thornton), Whiskey Tango Foxtrot (WTF for short) is not a war movie. The movie is a dramatization of the book, but still remains true to Kim Barker’s wartime experiences. Fans of Barker’s book will find plenty to love in the film.

“They make Tina Fey way braver than I ever was,” Barker says. She adds that adequately recreating the book would be unnecessarily difficult. The narrative arcs are the same. Her interaction with supporting characters are the same. Robert Carlock, a regular 30 Rock writer, and WTF screenwriter, did a lot of independent research on top of Barker’s book.

“All the events depicted in the film happened to me or to someone I know,” Barker says. “I think the movie is a great representation and that’s what I care about most. I want people to see the movie, enjoy the movie, and then think about what the real story behind it was.”

‘Whiskey Tango Foxtrot’ is a funny war memoir that will make you want more

The choice to depict Fey’s Baker as a broadcast journalist — as opposed to Kim Barker‘s print reporting for the Chicago Tribune — is an apt choice. The movie tells the broad story of a reporter’s time in Afghanistan, hitting all the significant events, influential characters, and memorable moments in a quick retelling of the real Barker’s experience. The book is written by a print journalist, full of detail, nuance, and explanation, a great primer for truly understanding the tribes and conflicts in the Afghanistan-Pakistan region.

‘Whiskey Tango Foxtrot’ is a funny war memoir that will make you want more

Whiskey Tango Foxtrot is a funny, sharp, yet glossy look at the life of a war reporter covering a very real conflict. It depicts the troubles women have as war reporters and the inequalities women face in the region. The movie shows a journalist’s first ever encounter with U.S. Marines and touches on moments that are at times funny and at times trying, just like many war zone experiences. Viewers may walk away wanting something more, and they will be able to get that something from the Barker’s book, which the reporter wanted all along.  

Originally published 2016.

Articles

The 6 best pieces of military gear, according to Amazon

We all have our favorite gear, for whatever reason. Maybe it saved our asses, maybe it repaired a weapon, maybe it just made it possible to get a few hours sleep through a long, cold night. There’s nothing better than a reliable piece of gear to keep coming back to over and over. Often, troops will try to keep as much of their field gear as possible when they separate.


After reading through a few Amazon reviews, it’s easy to understand why. What’s your favorite?

1. 550 Cord – 5 Stars

Also known as parachute cord, the 550 comes from its breaking strength of at least 550 pounds. It’s made of nylon, wrapped around an internal core which increases strength and keeps the main rope from fraying. The cord was originally used in parachute suspension lines, but its use became widespread as paratroopers would cut the cord from the chutes as a useful tool for the future. These days, troops use it to secure packs to vehicles, set up camouflage nets, make lanyards, or tie up bracelets or belts that can be unraveled when needed.

2. Issue Anglehead Flashlight – 5 Stars

The anglehead design was first used by the U.S. military in World War II and has been a staple of all branches ever since. The chief supplier of these lights, Fulton, supplied them to the U.S. government since the Vietnam War. There are plenty of knockoff versions of it. If yours is a real one, it will have “MX-991/U” imprinted on the side of the light.

‘Whiskey Tango Foxtrot’ is a funny war memoir that will make you want more
The Big Red One appreciates it.

Here’s one review:

“I served in the Army over 20 years ago under SOCOM, so this flashlight has a minimum of that many years under its belt and all the action marks that comes with it… I clicked on the power button – not expecting anything special, and… IT TURNED ON.”

3. Woobie – 4.5 Stars

The “Woobie” is a nylon-polyester blanket, really the liner for the standard-issue poncho. It’s known as a Woobie because of the great affection troops have for it, the way a baby loves its blanket. Woobies are lightweight, easily packed, and do a great job of keeping troops warm in cooler temperatures.

‘Whiskey Tango Foxtrot’ is a funny war memoir that will make you want more
(U.S. Army Photo)

A reviewer writes:

“Of all the pieces of U.S. military kit I’ve ever seen (through 20+ years of military service), none equal the Wubbie [sic] for value for money, utility, and comfort.

I bought my first poncho liner in Vietnam in 1964. It was one of the old ones from back when they were made from parachute silk. Now, almost fifty years later, I’m still using it. I guess I’m a 65 year old man with a blankie!”

4. Chem-lights – 4.5 Stars

Chem-lights are designed for 360-degree visibility up to a mile away for up to 12 hours. There are, of course, some variances. They also need to be durable, waterproof, and flame retardant. They have a number of uses when a flashlight or fire isn’t the right tool, and the light gets brighter as the temperature gets warmer.

The reviews:
“In my decade and a half in the military I have probably gone through thousands of Cyalume ChemLight just myself. They have a million uses, both fun and functional. But most important the Cyalume models have proven to be utterly reliable and bright.”
They can also be used as flares to mark an area without worrying about fire or flame. The uses for them are only limited by imagination, from Christmas lights to Fourth of July ‘rockets’ there is a lot of fun and use to be had.”

5. Gerber MP600 Multi-Tool – 4.5 Stars

‘Whiskey Tango Foxtrot’ is a funny war memoir that will make you want more
Multiversatile.

This tool’s usefulness practically speaks for itself. With 14 components, providing knives with different edges, screwdrivers, a ruler, bottle and can openers, wire cutters, crimpers, and a file, all with a lanyard ring (perfect for 550 cord loops), the multitool is perfect for minimizing space and weight while providing myriad uses.

The reviews:

“It has all the tools I need as a soldier and it has done very nicely for me.

With a potential need to carry in a deployed environment, the matte black finish is certainly a plus.”

6. 100mph Tape (Duct Tape) – 4 Stars

Also known as “olive drab green reinforcement tape,” it covers shiny objects and tapes things down to reduce rattling noises when on patrol, but it’s so much more than that. Since supplies have historically been an issue in the large scale wars of the past, troops needed an all-purpose way to make quick fixes without all the necessary equipment.

‘Whiskey Tango Foxtrot’ is a funny war memoir that will make you want more
(U.S. Army Photo)

From one review:

“The only downside that I can find is that it is literally so strong that anything even touching the edge of the roll will stick to it just from the small amount of adhesive that comes in contact with it. All duct tape is not created equal
I always have a roll of this stuff, and 550 Cord in my Gear. I’ve used it for everything from quick repairs, marking my luggage, to camouflaging my gear for Patrols. Not sure about the 100 MPH thing, but I do know that once you tape it to your gear, you’ll need to cut it off.”
Articles

Everything about ‘The Force Awakens’ First Order Stormtroopers in 700 words

The Imperial Stormtroopers featured in Star Wars are a big deal. Culturally, they are one of the most recognizable henchmen and foot soldiers in all of American pop culture history. So when we see so many iterations of the iconic armor, it makes sense that so many want to know more about them… and that they care about what lies beneath.


Star Wars: The Force Awakens features new kinds of specialty Imperial troops as well as updates on the original, iconic Imperial Stormtrooper, not to mention Gwendoline Christie’s chrome-plated trooper armor she wears as Captain Phasma.

‘Whiskey Tango Foxtrot’ is a funny war memoir that will make you want more
I mean, shiny armor in combat seems like a bad idea, but it doesn’t seem so bad here.

The First Order Flametrooper is a specialized Stormtrooper. They carry incendiary weapons that “turn any battlefield into an infernal blaze.” Flamethrowers are not exactly a battlefield innovation, though since this was “a long time ago,” it might have been for them. It does speak to the evil nature of the First Order since the weapon was banned by the Geneva Convention.

‘Whiskey Tango Foxtrot’ is a funny war memoir that will make you want more
… But it still uses liquid fuel, pumps, and hose technology.

See Also: EA releases combat stats for ‘Star Wars Battlefront’ and the results are amazing

And then there’s the updated First Order Snowtrooper. Let’s be honest, the Snowtroopers were the only troops from the original trilogy who had any effectiveness on the battlefield. The Snowtroopers captured the Rebel base on Hoth, where regular Stormtroopers couldn’t duck while entering doorways and Imperial Scouts couldn’t even beat Ewoks on a planet they occupied long enough to build the Death Star.

‘Whiskey Tango Foxtrot’ is a funny war memoir that will make you want more
Also, the original Snowtroopers don’t seem all that warm.

But even though no one in the audience ever saw the faces underneath Stormtrooper armor in the previous films, the idea of a Stormtrooper being a black man caught a few people by surprise when audiences first saw actor John Boyega in the armor. It doesn’t make much sense for people to be surprised since the Armed Forces have historically led the way for racial and other forms of integration.

‘Whiskey Tango Foxtrot’ is a funny war memoir that will make you want more
Draftees in Korea on their way to the front.

Finn (played by John Boyega) doesn’t think it’s important either.

“I really don’t care about the black stormtrooper stuff,” he said.  “This is a movie about human beings, about Wookiees, spaceships, and TIE fighters, and it has an undertone and a message of courage, and a message of friendship, and loyalty. And I think that’s something that is ultimately important.”

Which is pretty much the same takeaway anyone who served had when President Truman signed Executive Order 9981 in 1948, which abolished racial discrimination in the U.S. military. Three years later, the U.S. was fighting in Korea. In war, as one Korea-era Marine Corps officer once told me, “after you’ve fought alongside a man, it doesn’t matter what color he is, you gotta respect his fighting ability.”

See Also: Star Wars tech we could really use in Iraq Afghanistan

Joe Owen, then a Marine Corps lieutenant and author of Colder Than Hell, a retrospective about his time in the Battle of the Chosin Reservoir, remembered getting two young black men in his mortar company.

‘Whiskey Tango Foxtrot’ is a funny war memoir that will make you want more
Joe Owen, age 90.

“We had some black guys who came to us who were named squad leaders. Some of our people objected to this. Two Marines from the first platoon approached me and asked for a transfer to my outfit because a black guy was their squad leader. They refused to take orderes from him,” Owen recalled. “I told them they were going to take orders from a  Sergeant of Marines and that they were to go back to their outfit. After one night of fighting the Chinese, that squad leader was killed. I was on the detail of carrying the dead and wounded to battalion, and as I’m taking my column down, those same two Southerners came up to me and said they wanted to go with their squad leader and carry his body down because they said they wanted to pay proper respect to the best goddamn squad leader in the Marine Corps. That’s how that was settled.”

What the First Order Stormtrooper needs most is the ability to stop and aim. Kylo Ren was a Marine for crying out loud. Empire Fi.

Articles

The dark origins of Bikini Bottom

‘Whiskey Tango Foxtrot’ is a funny war memoir that will make you want more
Wikimedia Commons


Have you ever sat around wondering how Spongebob learned to tie a Windsor knot, how Squidward acquired his affinity for the arts, or how Plankton became perceptive enough to develop a Napoleon complex? Well, here’s a theory that should simultaneously quell your curiosity while fulfilling the core function of the internet: robbing you of your childhood innocence.

Basically, this unique aquatic society was the result of U.S. nuclear testing in the South Pacific Ocean, and that all of your childhood pals, from Mr. Krabs to Mrs. Puff, are radioactively mutated fish.

‘Whiskey Tango Foxtrot’ is a funny war memoir that will make you want more
Our thoughts exactly

History seems to support this claim. The nuclear testing site that the theory refers to is Bikini Atoll, a group of islands in Micronesia. After World War II, the U.S. military detonated 23 nuclear devices on the islands as it geared up for an arms race with the Soviet Union. Remember that island that appears at the beginning of every SpongeBob episode? Well, that’s what remains of Bikini Atoll. The creators of the show left other clues to this radioactive origin story, such as Squidward’s Easter Island head residence (a hint of the town’s South Pacific locale), the popular Bikini Bottom magazine Toxic Waste Monthly, and the mushroom cloud that seems to rise from every explosion in the show.

So, it seems likely that the bombing of Bikini Atoll created Bikini Bottom, a nightmarish seascape where a sponge is economically extorted by a crab, who somehow fathered a sperm whale. But maybe it was all for the best. Bikini Bottom seems like a pleasant enough city, and the residents certainly have less mundane lives than your average fish or sponge. All’s well that ends well, right?

Maybe not. Because before U.S. nukes created one of America’s most beloved children’s shows, there were real, non-animated people living on Bikini Atoll: 167 to be exact. Bikini Atoll is part of the Marshall Islands, which has its own distinctive language, culture, and society. Leading a subsistence based lifestyle, Bikinians were a subset of this society.

In 1946 the people of Bikini Atoll were compelled to “temporarily relocate” by the United States, who wanted to begin nuclear testing on the islands. They were told they had to leave “for the good of mankind” and were subsequently sent to Rongerik Atoll, an uninhabited group of islands one-sixth the size of Bikini that lacked adequate sources of food and water. The U.S. navy dropped them on the shore with several weeks of food supplies and left. Soon, the Bikinians had a serious malnutrition problem, with most living on the brink of starvation. Within two months of relocation, they were begging the U.S. to allow them to return to Bikini, not knowing about the nuclear devastation being brought down upon their home. Their calls were ignored, and they were left on the island for two years. “We were dying, but they didn’t listen to us,” commented one of the inhabitants of Rongerik.

‘Whiskey Tango Foxtrot’ is a funny war memoir that will make you want more

Eventually, the government began the process of moving the Bikinians to Ujelang Atoll. A handful Bikinians were sent to Ujelang to begin construction of their new society. But two months later, the plans fell through. The U.S. had chosen a second location for nuclear testing, Enewetak Atoll, and decided that the Enewetak people, instead of the Bikinians, would be relocated to Ujelang.

In 1948, The Bikini natives were finally liberated from Rongerik and sent to Kwajalein Atoll, where they lived in tents next to a concrete military airstrip. Six months later they were relocated once again to Kili Island, a .36-square-mile island where most Bikinians still live today. The island greatly differed from the Atolls they were accustomed to, making their traditional methods of fishing and food cultivation far less effective. Starvation once again became a daily concern and the Bikinians had to rely on USDA rice and canned goods to survive. The island was also prone to flooding, making them vulnerable to hurricanes and typhoons. They soon began referring to Kili as “Prison Island.”

Meanwhile, nuclear tests continued on Bikini Atoll, culminating in the 1954 “Castle Bravo” test, which detonated a nuclear weapon 1,000-times more powerful than the atom bomb dropped on Hiroshima. The blast was larger than the U.S. government expected and the resulting radioactive fallout spread throughout the Marshall Islands, blanketing inhabited islands and contaminating their residents. The subsequent health effects still plague Marshall Islanders today.

‘Whiskey Tango Foxtrot’ is a funny war memoir that will make you want more
Mushroom cloud at Castle Bravo

Decades passed, and in 1969, President Lyndon B. Johnson announced that the now 540 Bikinians would be able to resettle their home islands. The Atomic Energy Commission issued a statement saying “There’s virtually no radiation left and we can find no discernible effect on either plant or animal life.” Feeling confident in these assurances, Bikinians began to resettle in 1972. But in 1978, tests by U.S. physicians revealed that the radiation levels in the 139 people on Bikini Atoll were well above the permissible level. They were evacuated.

Today, the native inhabitants of Bikini Atoll continue to seek compensation from the U.S. government for the devastation of their home. Many demand that the U.S. clean up the mess they made in Bikini so they might return home. Some have more modest claims, like Simon Jamore, who wants access to better healthcare for four of his family members who have developed cancer. The islands remain almost entirely uninhabited, excluding the marine citizens of Bikini Bottom. For now, the only thing fit to live in Bikini Atoll is a radioactive fry-cook sponge.

MIGHTY CULTURE

‘The Off-Islander’ sees a Vietnam vet turned private investigator looking for a missing man in 1982 New England

Growing up, my stepdad kept a series of paperback books high up on the shelf. They were novels by an author named John MacDonald with distinctive color-based titles like The Green Ripper and The Scarlet Ruse. They featured a unique sort of private investigator named Travis McGee. When I was old enough to reach them, they became my entry point into the mystery genre.

Travis McGee was a departure from the hardboiled detective stories of an earlier era. The classic noir private investigator was a world-weary gumshoe navigating dark streets and negotiating femme fatales, corrupt cops, and mobsters to close the case. Mcgee was different. Travis was a bon vivant and knight-errant, a handsome man who saw life as something to be enjoyed rather than endured as he cut a swath through both Florida’s prettiest women and its most colorful villains to close cases. Think 1980’s Magnum PI set in Fort Lauderdale and you get the picture.


All of this is my way of saying I was feeling a little bit of that MacDonald vibe when I read Peter Colt’s debut novel, The Off-Islander.

For sure, Colt’s Andy Roark is a different character than MacDonald’s McGee. Andy is a good bit rougher than McGee due to his military and cop background and as he describes himself, ‘doesn’t always conform to rules and regulations’. But Roark, much like McGee has a sensitive core with an appreciation for books and music, good food and drink, and a preference for educated women who appreciate art. He even partakes of marijuana though he rather stick to beer and bourbon.

The plot of the novel isn’t a complex one. It is a missing person case, which sees Andy travel through Boston and Nantucket Island looking for someone who obviously does not want to be found. Like most mystery novels, there are some complications as Andy works the case. Only some of those complications are resolved by the end of the novel but the loose strings do not otherwise affect the resolution of this procedural.

That is not to say I did not enjoy this novel. I enjoyed it very much. The plot is dripping with New England atmospherics. Where McGee’s novels were all Florida sun, Colt sets his story in the bleak windswept bogs and shores of Massachusetts. Andy’s investigation takes him from the gray environs of Boston to charming Cape Cod store fronts besieged by whipping rain and wind. It is the perfect setting for hard-edged people with secrets they’re willing to kill to keep. The book is also informed by Peter Colt’s real life experience as a veteran, police officer, and former resident of Nantucket Island. This lends the text an added layer of authenticity and intimacy in his description of the setting and Roark’s detective deductions.

In addition, notable in this book was Andy’s military past. Though McGee was also a veteran, MacDonald left McGee’s service ambiguous and it never really played much of a role in how portrayed his character. Colt on the other hand keeps coming back to Andy’s service in Vietnam in just about every chapter of the book. Roark is still clearly dealing with his unresolved feelings towards his service and in a melancholic touch, it seems to be the shadow that ruins his relationships with the women in his life. The title of the book, ‘The Off-Islander’ is not just descriptive of Andy’s alienation from the closed community of Nantucket Island – it also speaks to his personal post-war isolation from polite civil society.

Ultimately, this is a good debut novel which launches what I help to be a great series of adventures featuring an appealing private investigator. It was an easy afternoon and evening read set in the part of the country which I reside and love. I enjoyed my time sleuthing with Andy. I ended the novel hoping to see him get a Vietnam-free night of sleep, a good stiff drink, and a healthy relationship with a good woman in the second book.

MIGHTY MOVIES

‘Falcon and Winter Soldier’ pilot sets up an emotional ride

Marvel has proved itself to be a master of balancing action and high stakes with compelling heroes navigating realistic emotional experiences. The pilot episode of The Falcon and the Winter Soldier could have been a basic buddy cop series, but instead the creators have set up a show that will explore trauma and PTSD and systemic racism while deconstructing modern America and its flaws. It hit its emotional beats succinctly and set up its two heroes — without even uniting them yet. 

Spoilers ahead.

The episode begins with a cool opening, showing off Anthony Mackie’s Sam Wilson AKA The Falcon and his wingéd suit. After thirteen years of action sequences, Marvel’s creative teams keep finding ways to get creative — in this case, Wilson teams up with U.S. military forces to recover a soldier kidnapped by wingsuit terrorists led by Georges Batroc, the acrobatic terrorist from Captain America: The Winter Soldier. 

Wilson is aided by a soon-to-be-fan-favorite Joaquin Torres, who gives intel support from the ground and, after their mission success, fanboys a bit over Wilson and asks him to confirm a conspiracy theory that Steve Rogers is operating on the moon. This slyly reminds us that the Avengers are famous, and while we know their stories, the people in their world don’t necessarily. 

https://twitter.com/evquinzel/status/1372931465999179776?s=20

In fact, most civilians in the Marvel Cinematic Universe are normal people living out their lives, watching aliens attack Manhattan, trying to cope as half of the population disintegrated into ash then reintegrated five years later. Those kinds of events have taken a toll — including radicalizing terrorist groups, whom we’ll see later in this episode, and impacting the economy, as we’ll also see. 

Wilson returns to D.C. to do “moon stuff,” where he offers the Captain America shield to the Smithsonian for Steve Rogers’ exhibit. Wilson still doesn’t feel worthy of the mantle of Captain America. His sister struggles to keep the family fishing business afloat — pun intended — and she doesn’t blink an eye when they are denied a loan from the bank, in spite of Wilson’s fame and status. He’s not the only person who had no source of income for the past five years (due to being snapped out of existence by Thanos) and now needs financial assistance. The undertones of the scene show that systemic racism is at hand as well.

Next we catch up with a haunted Bucky Barnes, who, despite his healing respite in Wakanda, suffers from symptoms of PTSD. He has nightmares and carries guilt from his 90 years of enslavement as a brainwashed assassin for HYDRA and the Soviet Union. He has a notebook filled with names of people he hopes to make amends to, including an older man grieving the mysterious death of his son — a man who was in the wrong place at the wrong time and was killed by the Winter Soldier. 

His therapist offers an insightful observation that should resonate with many veterans: “I was an excellent soldier, so I saw a lot of dead bodies and I know how that can shut you down. And if you are alone, that is the quietest, most personal hell. And James, it is very hard to escape.”

With both of their introductions, we can see that Sam is trying to figure out who he is. He’s comfortable being an airman — but he’s not ready to be Captain America and carry the weight of all Steve Rogers stood for. 

Bucky was a good man who spent almost a hundred years doing terrible things. He was basically still a kid when he enlisted and was taken captive by HYDRA. In one scene, he brings a date flowers and she calls him “adorably old-fashioned.” Sebastian Stan’s acting in that moment is very nuanced; he captures Bucky’s vulnerability beautifully. His family grew old and died while he was enslaved by HYDRA, his best friend returned home to the past without him, and now all he has for company is his guilt and trauma.

It’s clear the two will need each other, which sets up their future friendship for a satisfying connection. Meanwhile, young Torres has uncovered a terrorist cell aided by an operator with superhuman strength, which points the way this series will go. 

The most painful moment came at the end of the episode when the U.S. announced that there will be a new Captain America afterall — not Sam, the rightful shield-bearer, but some smarmy white chap. So that’s awkward.

MIGHTY CULTURE

An Oscar-winning filmmaker directed the Marines’ latest commercial; here’s how the pandemic might amplify its message

For its latest recruiting commercial, the Marine Corps got an Oscar-winning filmmaker to draw a dramatic contrast between the often-isolating online world and the Corps’ pitch to Generation Z that service in its ranks offers a path toward a life of “belonging, community, and purpose.”

Wally Pfister, who won an Academy Award for his cinematography on Christopher Nolan’s mind-bending thriller, Inception, directed “Battle to Belong,” the Corps’ latest recruiting commercial.


Battle to Belong: U.S. Marine Corps Commercial

www.youtube.com

The ad’s protagonist, played by Marine Staff Sgt. Jordan Viches, a correctional specialist stationed at Camp Pendleton, California, is shown walking down a near-future street while being bombarded with digital marketing, notifications, and alerts. Frustrated, he breaks through the electronic assault and emerges training to become a Marine.

Pfister told Military.com the inspiration behind the style in the opening scenes was based on science fiction films such as Steven Spielberg’s 2018 Ready Player One, which portrays a dystopic future where human beings spend much of their lives escaping reality in a virtual world called “the Oasis.”

“‘Battle to Belong’ takes a bold step to showcase how America’s youth can be caught up in a world that creates a confusing, and sometimes suffocating, digital hum as the new normal,” said Lt. Col. Christian Devine, national director of marketing and communication strategy, Marine Corps Recruiting Command. “The campaign is designed to provoke reaction from a generation of youth who are often disillusioned by the very technology and types of social connectivity that were supposed to bring us closer together.”

With the COVID-19 pandemic forcing more and more human interaction into the virtual realm, the Corps’ message may resonate even more with its increasingly isolated target audience.

“Many high schools and colleges are returning to school via remote learning, which further challenges Marine recruiters who value the relationships they normally build with students and educators on campus,” said Gunnery Sgt. Justin Kronenberg, communication strategy chief at Marine Corps Recruiting Command. “At its height, the COVID pandemic had a dramatic effect on our ability to prospect and it continues to limit our ability to do some of the in-person activities so important to our success.”

‘Whiskey Tango Foxtrot’ is a funny war memoir that will make you want more

Marines and sailors with Kilo Company, Battalion Landing Team 3rd Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment, 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit, conduct a live fire range during a pre-deployment training exercise at MAGTF Training Command/Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center at 29 Palms, California, Nov. 11, 2018. US Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Dalton S. Swanbeck.

Kronenberg said the Corps’ contracted advertising agency, Wunderman Thompson, regularly conducts research to gain insight on how the Marines’ brand is resonating with its target demographic of young people and influencers.

“We validated that young people of recruitable age hunger for belonging and self-transcendence and participation in a common moral cause or struggle,” he said.

“Like generations before, these youth are seeking identities that will define them,” Devine said. “They crave belonging, community, and purpose.”

The partnership between Wunderman Thompson and the Marine Corps goes back more than 74 years, according to Kronenberg, and the agency was again awarded the Corps’ business after a contract recompete last year.

“We value the team’s creative acumen and deep understanding of the Marine Corps’ ethos and brand identity,” Kronenberg said.

‘Whiskey Tango Foxtrot’ is a funny war memoir that will make you want more

US Marine Corps Sgt. Sean Nash provides cover fire during the Integrated Training Exercise (ITX) at Marine Air Ground Combat Center Twentynine Palms, California, Jan. 28, 2020. ITX is a month-long training event that prepares Marines for deployment. US Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Jack C. Howell.

The new commercial features original music from legendary composer and Academy Award and Grammy Award winner Hans Zimmer, and Marine Corps musicians performed Zimmer’s music for the spot.

“The Marine Corps makes three promises to the American people: Win Battles, Make Marines, and Develop Quality Citizens,” Kronenberg said. “We consider each of those promises to be chapters of what we call the Longer Marine Corps Story.”

“Battle to Belong” is the third installment in the Longer Marine Corps Story. “Battle Up” focused on developing quality citizens, and “A Nation’s Call” showed the Corps’ winning battles.

This article originally appeared on Coffee or Die. Follow @CoffeeOrDieMag on Twitter.

MIGHTY MOVIES

‘The Mandalorian’: An honest-to-god old western

Author’s note: If you haven’t seen “The Mandalorian” yet, go watch it and come back — spoilers ahead. For the rest of you: this is the way.

The internet has been buzzing about “The Mandalorian,” the “Star Wars” series that follows a Mandalorian bounty hunter (of the same tribe and iconic armor as Boba Fett) who finds a young, force-sensitive creature who looks like a baby Yoda. The series hasn’t just produced a slew of new memes, it’s crushed the ratings on several platforms — IMDB has it at an 8.9, and Rotten Tomatoes rates it at 94 percent on the Tomatometer (with an audience score of 93 percent).


It has all the familiar, nostalgic elements of “Star Wars” — spectacular scenes in space, fun action-adventure, weird creatures, the conflict of good and evil, and, of course, the force. However, “The Mandalorian” also includes a host of cowboy movie tropes, which adds a freshness to the story. It’s not like any old Western we’ve seen — after all, it’s set in space with little alien wizards. It’s also not a repeat of other “Star Wars” stories because it’s basically an old Western set in a fantasy universe.

‘Whiskey Tango Foxtrot’ is a funny war memoir that will make you want more

We can’t publish an article on “The Mandalorian” without showing “the child” at least once.

(Photo courtesy of Disney+)

In order to understand old Western films, we need to understand where they came from. Many of the old Western tropes are American, but some are borrowed from older Japanese cinema. The obvious connection is the Japanese classic “Seven Samurai” being remade into the American cowboy classic “The Magnificent Seven.” While this is the most famous connection between the two genres, it’s not the only one. The music, the stories, the filmmaking techniques — watch any film by Akira Kurosawa and you’ll see elements of the Western left and right.

“The Mandalorian” borrows from both.

It makes sense to begin with the Mandalorian’s religion — his weapons. Our protagonist carries around his handheld blaster and a disintegration rifle (known as a modified Amban Rifle). These are clearly the equivalent of a revolver and a rifle, the cowboy’s typical loadout in most Westerns. Mando generally draws and fires his blaster from the hip, just like the classic Wild West draw. Any bigger weapons brought onto the battlefield are typically large, mounted weapons — the equivalent of the evil antagonist breaking out a Gatling gun mounted to a train or on a tripod. The lasso is another quintessential tool for the cowboy of old Westerns — depicted in “The Mandalorian” by his grappling line. Mando wraps a few enemies up in his “lasso” throughout the story, hog-tying his targets.

The Mandalorian

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Several specific moments also call directly back to the films of the Wild West. For example, the classic “horse whisperer” scene where Mando tames and breaks a blurrg. He is bucked and thrown as the wise, old man watches from the edge of the corral. Finally, our hero mounts the beast and they ride into a few sunsets together.

We mentioned that the Japanese film “Seven Samurai” was the direct inspiration for “The Magnificent Seven” — both films feature bandits who are hell bent on raiding a village, forcing the townspeople to enlist the help of some elite warriors to train them and defend them against the next onslaught. Sound familiar? This same story played out in a chapter of “The Mandalorian” with some unique, sci-fi twists — we don’t remember an AT-ST in “Seven Samurai.”

‘Whiskey Tango Foxtrot’ is a funny war memoir that will make you want more

The comparisons are obvious.

(Photo courtesy of Disney+.)

On top of congruent storylines, one of the most significant ways that Japanese cinema inspired old Westerns was with its music; “Star Wars” also features some of the most iconic music in film history. Ludwig Goransson’s score of “The Mandalorian” fuses the two by combining elements from old Westerns (and perhaps old Japanese films) like the heavy beating of drums with “primitive” sounding percussion, bizarre flutes, and interesting stringed instruments. The hollow melody of the main title would be just as at home if it was played over a lone gunslinger in the Wild West, riding off to save a small town from nefarious bandits. The score cloaks the Mandalorian himself in a shroud of mystery.

Start with some old Japanese film score elements, mix in a bit of Ennio Morricone, then top it off with heavy sprinkles of classic “Star Wars” sweeping scores — and you’ve got yourself a soundtrack fit for the halls of Mandalore.

‘Whiskey Tango Foxtrot’ is a funny war memoir that will make you want more

“The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly” (left), and “The Mandalorian.”

(Photos courtesy of United Artists and Disney+.)

The setting and wardrobe also highlight the connection of this magical, dystopian science-fiction narrative to the Wild West. Most of the events in “The Mandalorian” are set in barren places — not on the lavish planet of Naboo or the bustling cities of Coruscant, but out in the lawless desert where guns and criminals abound. And Pedro Pascal (the Mandalorian) sports a cape eerily similar to how Clint Eastwood wears his poncho in classics like “A Few Dollars More” and “The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly.” Instead of high-tech visors, many of the inhabitants of these barren locations wear old-school goggles, and they wear their blasters low on their hip just like the cowboys we know from the Old West. The Mandalorian even keeps rounds strung across his chest — one wouldn’t expect the need for that in a science-fiction universe, but it all falls in line with the classic Western aesthetic.

A lot of old Westerns are films about rugged individualism. They follow rough characters who have to navigate their way through an even rougher world. The protagonist then finds at least one redeeming aspect about the unforgiving, desolate landscape on which they fight — something precious among the thorns. Upon that discovery, the cowboy or lawman or mercenary finds that their ability to fight, to be strong, to kill — it all suddenly has meaning — it suddenly turns into the ability to protect a village, a woman, a friend… or a child.

Jon Favreau has taken a beloved franchise and breathed new life into it by fusing it with these classic elements from old Western films, and it’s been a wild success. Audiences around the world have expressed how thrilled they are at this new installment of “Star Wars,” and I, for one, can’t wait for the second season.

Embedded With Special Forces in Afghanistan | Part 2

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This article originally appeared on Coffee or Die. Follow @CoffeeOrDieMag on Twitter.

Articles

Metal Giants ‘Queensryche’ Take On War

There has been a major split between lead singer Geoff Tate and the rest of the band in recent months, but a few years ago, legendary metal band Queensryche was tightly focused on “American Soldier,” the band’s take on the modern experience of war.


Here’s the first video they produced for the album:

MIGHTY MOVIES

‘Saving Private Ryan’ is coming back to the screen for the 75th anniversary of D-Day

There aren’t many war movies better than Saving Private Ryan, Steven Spielberg’s World War II masterpiece. It’s definitely worth watching at home, but you’ll soon have a chance to see it in theaters again, more than two decades after its original release.

The film is returning to theaters to mark the 75th anniversary of D-Day. Participating theaters will host a matinee at 3:00 p.m. on June 2, 2019, and an evening screening at 7:00 on June 5, 2019. D-Day took place on June 6, 1944.


Saving Private Ryan tells the story of a squad of Army Rangers played by Tom Sizemore, Edward Burns, Barry Pepper, Giovanni Ribis, Vin Diesel, Adam Goldberg, and Jeremy Davies. Led by John Miller (Tom Hanks), their mission is to find and rescue a paratrooper, Ryan (Matt Damon), the only survivor of his four military brothers.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RYID71hYHzg
SAVING PRIVATE RYAN Official Trailer (1998) Tom Hanks HD Movie | TrueMovies Trailer

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Saving Private Ryan was a commercial and critical hit when it was first released. It was the highest grossing film of 1998, grossing 1 million that year, the equivalent of about 0 million today. It received 11 Academy Award nominations, winning for Best Director, Best Cinematography, Best Sound Mixing, Best Sound Editing and Best Film Editing, infamously losing the Best Picture race to Shakespeare in Love.

The opening scene of the film is a sprawling, brutal 20-plus minute recreation of the invasion that immerses the viewer in the horrors of combat without glorifying war.

Saving Private Ryan D-Day Scene

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“[W]e wanted people to get the feeling that despite what you see in movies and what you read in books, death in hellacious combat like there was on Omaha Beach can sometimes be very random, and it can be shocking because it’s so close,” Marine veteran Dale Dye, the film’s military advisor, told Task Purpose.

It’s the kind of scene, and the kind of film, that deserves to be seen in theaters, so don’t miss this opportunity.

This article originally appeared on Fatherly. Follow @FatherlyHQ on Twitter.

MIGHTY MOVIES

Vietnam just banned ‘Abominable’ movie because of a map

Vietnam outlawed Dreamworks’ new animation “Abominable” on Oct. 14, 2019, because it showed a map acknowledging China’s claim to a disputed part of the South China Sea.

Multiple countries — including China, Vietnam, Malaysia, and the Philippines — have overlapping claims to the sea. Beijing claims a large portion of it as its own, and calls the U-shaped region demarcating it as the “nine-dash line.”

Dispute over waters near Vietnam flared in October 2019 after Vietnam claimed a Chinese ship rammed and sank a fishing vessel.


A still from “Abominable” circulating widely on Twitter on Oct. 13, 2019, showed a map clearly showing a variant of the dashed line in the South China Sea.

“We will revoke [the film’s license],” Ta Quang Dong, Vietnam’s deputy minister of culture, sports and tourism, told the country’s Thanh Nien newspaper on Sunday, Reuters reported.

The decision was directly a response to the map scene, Reuters added, citing an employee at Vietnam’s National Cinema Center.

The movie, directed by “Monsters, Inc.” writer Jill Culton, follows a young Chinese girl who wakes up to find a Yeti on her roof, and and is led on to a journey to the Himalaya mountains to find his family.

The Vietnamese-language edition of the movie — titled “Everest: The Little Yeti” — premiered in the country on Oct. 4, 2019, Reuters reported. It appeared to play for nine days before the culture ministry banned the movie.

Sen. Tom Cottons of Arkansas criticized the ban on Oct. 15, 2019, saying in a tweet that Dreamworks’ display of the nine-dash line was an example of “kowtowing to the Chinese Communist Party by American liberal elites.”

Oct. 9, 2019, broadcasters at ESPN used a map of China which incorporated Taiwan and the “nine-dash line” as part of its territory, sparking fresh criticism among Beijing’s critics.

Country sovereignty is a sensitive topic in China too: Multiple Western designer brands have also landed in hot water in China for identifying the semi-autonomous cities of Hong Kong and Macau as countries, rather than Chinese regions.

This article originally appeared on Business Insider. Follow @BusinessInsider on Twitter.

MIGHTY MOVIES

Russell Crowe got drunk and bought a dinosaur skull from Leonardo DiCaprio

If you have the money, do you hesitate when presented with the opportunity to buy a dinosaur skull for your children? The answer should be unflagging YES. YES YOU SHOULD. And yet, we think there’s a more important — very quick — follow-up question to ask before buying said dinosaur skull. It’s a question a child would ask, but a question that a well-meaning father (like the beloved star of Gladiator Russell Crowe, for example) might forget to ask. And that question is: What kind of dinosaur skull?


On June 20, 2019, Vulture reported that Russell Crowe has been telling the tale of the time he got shit-faced on vodka and bought a real dinosaur skull from Leonardo DiCaprio. “I bought it for my kids, and you know, cut myself a little bit of slack here, there was a bunch of vodka involved in the transaction and it happened at Leonardo’s house,” Crowe told Howard Stern. So far, so good, right? If you had the kind of income Crowe has, you’d do this for your kids, too, right? I mean, my kid is two-years-old, and she already loves dinosaurs. But, also relevantly, like all cool children who love dinosaurs, my two-year-old can already distinguish between types of dinosaurs. This is a super-power most little kids have, and it makes them all seem like they know more about the world than they actually do. My daughter can tell the difference between a stegosaur, a triceratops, and yes, even a pachycephalosaurus. Guess who probably can’t remember the importance of these distinctions? Yep, you guessed it, a shit-faced Russell Crowe!

‘Whiskey Tango Foxtrot’ is a funny war memoir that will make you want more

From back to front: Ankylosaurus, Tyrannosaurus, Quetzalcoatlus, Triceratops, Struthiomimus, Pachycephalosaurus, and the unnamed dromaeosaurid and caenagnathid now named Acheroraptor and Anzu respectively.

The dinosaur skull Crowe bought from Leo was a Mosasaurus. A what? That’s right, it’s that underwater dinosaur that was a big deal in the first Jurassic World movie. Now, I’m not saying this kind of dinosaur isn’t cool per se, but it’s certainly not 30K cool, and I bet my daughter would be disappointed we missed some mortgage payments over this particular dino skull.

Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom (2018) – Mosasaurus Attack Scene (1/10) | Movieclips

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A T-Rex? A Triceratops? I mean, I think anyone could understand. But, a dinosaur that looks like a glorified crocodile? This seems like the real mistake here.

The lesson here is very clear. If you’re making late night drunken purchases of the remains of prehistoric creatures, you should, by all means, think of your children. But, more importantly than that, if you want that purchase to matter, think like a child.

This article originally appeared on Fatherly. Follow @FatherlyHQ on Twitter.

Articles

Here’s the trailer for “Dunkirk,” the first war film from the guy who directed “The Dark Knight”

Christopher Nolan has now applied his moody and precise visual style on World War II. The “Inception” and “The Dark Knight” director tells the story of the “Miracle at Dunkirk,” a large-scale evacuation that saved approximately 338,000 Allied troops.


Related: This is how the ‘Miracle at Dunkirk’ saved World War II for the Allies

“Dunkirk” features frequent Nolan collaborator and “Mad Max: Fury Road” star Tom Hardy, Academy Award winner and “Bridge of Spies” star Mark Rylance, and Shakespeare master and robot-spider enthusiast Kenneth Branagh.

“Dunkirk” opens July 21, 2017. Watch the trailer below.

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