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Hullabaloo


Tuesday, May 30, 2006

 
Grandpa's Good Little Boy

by digby


I notice that everyone's on the case of the latest Ben Domenechist hire, Karl Zinsmeister. He's quite the guy. A liar, of course, and completely full of shit but he's perfect to replace the person who was arrested for shoplifting toiletries from Target. In an administration that cares nothing for policy, these jobs are all just patronage gigs. And old Karl has been a good little wingnut. He deserves a nice Whitehouse gig on his resume.

John Amato has all the dirt on this fine fellow, but he leaves out what I think is the most impressive item on Karl's list of accomplishment. It seems he writes comic books too:

Longtime embedded journalist Karl Zinsmeister (Boots on the Ground: A Month with the 82nd Airborne in the Battle for Iraq) and penciler Dan Jurgens (Thor, Superman) chronicle three months in the lives of the 82nd Airborne in the Battle for Iraq in this groundbreaking series. Collects Combat Zone: True Tales of GI's In Iraq #1-5.


Some people love it for its classic "Sgt Rock" quality. Others, not so much:


I bought this because of the positive reviews and because it sounded like it might be pretty good. It's not. The drawings are well-done. Beyond that, this could easily have been written during the WWII Africa campaign with a few updates on weapons and jargon.

All the sterotypes are here. There's Duhon, the dumb but friendly Southerner, Kulzinski, the brawny Pole, Dean, the third-generation Army brat, Marco, the tough Texan, Gordon, the wet-behind-the-ears Lieutenant, and Brown, the token black. I'm pretty sure I've seen all these guys in a John Wayne movie or three. Oh, right, Wayne's there too, playing the cowboy sharpshooter.

The dialogue is wordy, freighted with needless backfill, and just plain corny. Here are a couple of example quotes:

Lt. Gordon: "I know we're still in shock over losing Sgt. Kramer. But we've got a job to do. Now I know I'm just a kid out of college, and that my joining the Army to try to make the world safer may seem a little goofy to you. But we all agree we have to succeed here."

Capt. Kirkwood: "There's a good chance one of those cavalry gun trucks could get ambushed and pinned down. If that happens, I want you to treat it like a downed helicopter, understand? We are not going to lose another one of those men. You drop everything until those soldiers are saved. That's what we do for other Americans who risk their lives with us."


These wingnut guys are all living out their Hollywood war fantasies. It's pathetic.

Here's the story told in a more relevant way:


The documentary [Soundtrack To War]is simply a series of interviews with soldiers about the CDs they’ve brought with them to Iraq and which ones they prefer to play when they roll out on a mission. Turns out, every Humvee, Bradley fighting vehicle, and Abrams tank is wired in such a way that it’s easy to hook a CD Walkman up to the internal sound system that each soldier hears in his or her headphones. And though it’s an open secret that the military’s own psy-ops folks are partial to AC/DC as a means to psych up their troops for battle, there don’t appear to be any official regulations regarding what a tank commander can and can’t play. Both 50 Cent and Jay-Z turned out to be popular among rap-loving crews; here the filmmakers might have asked how the military brass feels about the message of some of 50’s rougher raps. Among those in the know, Mystikal was a favorite because he himself is a former military man. One white private turned out to be a big fan of Jay-Z because he’s from the same part of Brooklyn and The Black Album reminds him of home. (I did find myself wondering whether psy-ops distinguish between pre– and post–Bon Scott AC/DC: though Scott’s "Highway to Hell" would have to be high on anyone’s list of kick-ass rock and roll, the post-Scott albums Back in Black and For Those About To Rock are more explosive. I’m sure they’ll be convening a committee to recommend regulations on the use of AC/DC any day now.)

More typical are the tank crews who blast new metal by the likes of Drowning Pool with lyrics like "Let the bodies hit the floor," drums that sound like artillery explosions, and shrapnel-spraying guitars set to hard-hitting martial rhythms.

[...]

The most disturbing part of Soundtrack to War is the revelation of how closely rolling out into a tank battle resembles playing a tank-battle video game. With Drowning Pool blasting through the headphones, the gunner targeting the enemy with a joystick on a digital computer screen, and "smart" ammo directing the shell to its target before the enemy even knows he’s under attack, you get a real sense of how life imitates art in the confines of an Abrams tank. The experience is depersonalizing in a way that doesn’t prepare the average soldier to deal with the reality of blown-apart bodies once he or she emerges from the tank.


Now that's interesting. Retread comic book dialog from episodes of "Combat" in 1963 isn't interesting. It's so typical of conservatives to be culturally stuck in their grandparents era. It's always been like that. When I was a kid they were talking about getting a malted down at the olde soda shoppe while the rest of us were getting stoned. (Not that we wouldn't have greatly enjoyed a malted down at the soda shop under those circumstances, but you get the picture.)

This guy has gone on to advise the president of the United States about domestic policy, which he seems highly qualified to do. He's a comic book writer for a cartoon administration.



None of this should be construed as a put down of comics or graphic novels in general. It's this comic I'm dissing.

Hat tip to a reader. You know who you are. I lost your email.



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