Carl Forsling provides a rant about how Onscreen Science Fiction Is Not Doing The Military Justice.
“Everyone likes watching an epic sci-fi battle. But whether it’s Star Trek’s Federation versus the Borg, Battlestar Galactica versus the Cylons, or the Rebel Alliance versus the Empire, most veterans are left wondering, “It’s like a thousand years in the future. Why are they fighting like it’s the Bronze Age or something?”
“One might think that these futuristic battles are just idle fun, and in a way they are. They allow us to fantasize about the way we wish war was — straightforward battles between good and evil, and not the inhuman, horrific spectacle as it actually is. Nonetheless, they shape the way the public looks at war today. Pop culture shapes the subconscious, which shapes public consciousness. Public “knowledge” of war comes in more ways than we realize. Most of the biggest onscreen battles in recent years have been science-fiction. More often than not, they ignore military innovation, real warfare strategy, and the grim reality of loss of life in battle.”
“Probably the biggest disservice though, is portraying death as completely cost free, both to the attacker and the attacked. Princess Leia personally witnessed the destruction of her entire planet — something that could be considered the Holocaust, the Mongol invasion, and Stalin’s purges put together and multiplied by a thousand — yet is nonchalantly kissing her brother on Hoth a few weeks later. Luke single handedly took out a small planet’s worth of Imperials on the Death Star. Sure, he probably feels justified in killing the Stormtroopers, but even he has to feel a twinge of guilt having wasted probably hundreds of innocent space janitors along with them.
“The day Luke Skywalker is shown talking in a veterans advocacy group about the trauma of losing his arm fighting his own father in hand-to-hand combat, maybe that will be the day we know the public has finally abandoned the illusion that war is painless … or glorious.”
In reality it is going towards one, carefully selected, shot to produce one kill. In the movies, you’d think it was Ghengis Kahn and the Mongol Hord. But then, reality would be boring and not much fun. The question is just how much of an impact the fiction has on perceptions of reality.