Movies and the Military

The United States of America actually has two armies: one in real life, and one trapped on films and DVDs. While the two forces look similar to outsiders, the Hollywood Army actually has it’s own unique rules of conduct. I know Hollywood uses military consultants for films, but it can’t be for actual military questions. Maybe they fetch coffee? To be fair, the same is probably true with any specialty area. Rarely a medical scene goes by without Carl hooting derisively at blatant errors. 

On our end, it’s a win-win situation. If filmmakers corrected these issues, people in the military might take movies more seriously and watch without falling off the couch laughing. If they remain uncorrected, military families get the pleasure of falling off the couch laughing.

A few examples:

– The beret is worn like this:

Not like this:

See the difference? Soldier and French Painter are actually two separate careers!

– If a soldier ran around with his finger on the trigger like that in the real Army, an NCO would rip his hand off.

– Contrary to popular belief, generals don’t actually bellow every word. Neither do Special Forces soldiers. Laryngitis hurts the tough-guy image.

– Generals come in more makes and models than robotic (and moronic) man-of-iron and obese corrupt sleeze. The last general I ran into was a quiet Asian with bookish glasses and a shy smile.

– Soldiers actually salute at specific times, not whenever they feel like stretching. This is particularly noticeable indoors.

– You’re going on post not on base. What are you, undercover Air Force?

– Start watching a few movies and count how many people are shown wearing berets in the lunch room, and striding across the parking lot bareheaded with wind ruffling their heroic hair. WRONG. Soldiers not under arms remove their cover (hat) when entering a building. Soldiers leaving a building or outside put on their cover. Maybe hair and makeup doesn’t want to deal with actors’ hat head?

– Why are you wearing dress blues to the range? Class A’s to a formal event? Were all the other costumes taken?

– Your average private is not a chisel-jawed impassive man of thirty. He (or she) is more likely a skinny eighteen-year-old with wide eyes and acne, somewhat in need of a babysitter. Likewise, typical lieutenants are not 35, and captains are rarely grizzled and gray.

– Haircuts. Men don’t have to shave their heads, but those long flowing locks? Nuh-uh. The “a raccoon slept on my head” look is strictly verboten. There’s not even an exception clause for cool main characters who want to attract women. What was the Army thinking?

There are many more of course. Got any favorites? What about portrayals of the other service branches like the Navy?

Images courtesy of,, and


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