HOLLYWOOD’S VIETNAM: WAR FILMS IN AMERICAN POPULAR CULTURE DURING THE 1980S
PublisherThe University of Arizona.
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AbstractFilms are an incredibly important medium for transmitting culture among the general populace, due to their high potential of immersion and ease of mass circulation among the population. However, when it comes to historical films, the power of films can easily lead to the spread of historical narratives that might not necessarily be accurate. This project will analyze several films made about the Vietnam War during the 1980s, and attempt to frame the content of the films within the cultural contexts of their release. This project will argue that the content of Hollywood's Vietnam narratives ended up promoting the Vietnam War as a noble cause ruined by poor judgment and morality, rather than a destructive conflict enacted by incompetent leadership that inflicted considerable devastation to the Vietnamese people. The legacy of such portrayal would become part of a wider, revolutionized American popular culture in the 1980s that tried to move away from the cultural trauma that Vietnam had inflicted upon the American populace. A handful of select Vietnam War films from 1979-1990 were chosen to be analyzed, alongside appropriate written primary sources and secondary literature from other historians, in order to create a narrative that showcased how American popular culture responded to such a painful part of their history.