Last of the Monster Kids

Last of the Monster Kids
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Sunday, February 17, 2013

Recent Watches: The Invisbile War

Look, I’m not an asshole. I’ve been around military professional for a large portion of my life. My Dad was in the Navy and my Mom is a nurse at a VA Center. I’m sure there are a lot of perfectly nice people in the Army and other military branches. But watching “The Invisible War” and discovering the Army is full of casual misogyny and heaps of oppressive, hateful, patriarchal bullshit isn’t even close to a surprise. To discover that innocent women are frequently brutalized, abused, and tortured by the men around them is horrifying but not surprising.

There isn’t a lot I can say about “The Invisible War” that wouldn’t be enraged, inarticulate screaming. The film starts by ironically contrasting women recruitment videos from the fifties up to the present. It’s a simple, talking heads documentary, interviewing the victimized women, their families, and military and mental health experts, occasionally presenting deeply troubling statistic factoids. The film follows a few specific cases, of a woman trying to get health care for a broken jaw injury and an another attempting to live among her new family with PTSD. The film is often heart-breaking and stomach-churning, especially when watching the women writing out their accounts in longhand with pen and paper.

The interview segments are deeply upsetting and enraging. Perhaps even more disturbing is the more and more facts revealed about how the military quickly, quiet, cover up the assaults. Brutal rapes are glossed over as “boys being boys.” The victims are frequently blamed. The number of assaulted women who were charged with adultery, because the rapist was married, makes me so angry that I can’t even really put it into words. The film makes it clear that only a shockingly small number of convicted rapists receive any sort of punishment. Military higher-ups do not give a shit about this happening and it keeps happening over and over again.

The film doesn’t ignore the institutions in place that allow this to keep happening. It openly acknowledges that the military encourages macho bullshit, reinforcing a mood of male entitlement and justification of violent masculine attitudes. The film doesn’t gloss over the men who are assaulted and rape in the military as well. The statistics reveal that the number of rapists and abusers in the military are higher then the number in the general populace. It’s an institutional problem. The military raises people up to be emotionless killing machine, to ignore their conscious and morality. Surprise, surprise: Encouraging that mindset attracts and creates sociopaths. The military promises brotherhood and comradely. To let this continually happen is to betray the trusts of the sane, honorable people who sign up for the service.

Many documentaries encourage activism. “The Invisible War” is likely to rise up quite a bit. However, I can’t help but wonder if the voices will reach the right places. This is such a built-in problem. I suppose, if some voices can be heard, an amount of good has been done. [8/10]

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