Sit-rep: Oscar Mike

This is not the most elegant of first posts, because I still have this big long thing I keep shuffling around and it will likely not get finished, much less posted, until late tonight.

This is the drive-by placeholder, also an invitation for everyone else to jump in at their own level of confusion or clarity.  Probably best to start with an open thread first anyway.

Okay, reading the book helped,  but partly because I probably didn’t retain enough, and partly because the experience of moving through the show narrative is much more demanding, I found myself struggling between the need to open the book up for reference  and the desire to just float along on the rushing current of the show and fill in the blanks later. I chose the latter.

First thing, it was good, it was worth the wait, and even more engaging than I anticipated,  in a way the book wasn’t  (for me).  I’m not a military buff, it’s largely a foreign planet to me, I don’t have a lot of war narratives under my belt. As I read the book, I struggled with keeping the characters straight, not to mention their rank and their relationships with each other, official and non.  Watching characters portrayed by actors was much easier, and for me at least, helped the narrative flow. In addition, this was probably where I saw the most recognizable Simon/Burns signature thus far, that strength of theirs when introducing  a large cast in a short amount of time.

Mostly though, even after twice through, I’m still in the immersion phase. Overall, the main thing that I was struck by repeatedly as I watched last night —and I find this immensely fucking exciting— is how dense and rich the narrative structure is, how much we have to pay attention to in order to understand what’s happening.  There’s dialogue and characterization, sure.  But we get put on watch immediately that all our senses are going to be needed to really get this, which is good, since there’s a cubic shitload of information flying toward us, seemingly unfiltered (though of course, very carefully so), and it’s all meant to tell us what’s really going down. On re-viewing the second time, it’s immediately obvious the opening sequence is a war game,  because it’s too quiet, too orderly, too understandable and logical to be real.

What did that dude on the radio say?  And who was it that said it? Echo Five Charlie?  Who the fuck is that? Why’d they pick up that gun, not the big one?   Oh, this must not be that dangerous, no one is wearing helmets. What is that they yell so everyone knows to put on their masks and mopp suits?  Etc, etc.

It seemed obvious that the show had to begin before the introduction of Wright’s character, and I dug the way the narrative and the new characters and situations were layered up, also where they broke the first episode, basically at the “We are not in fucking Kansas anymore, and you, Toto, are just lucky you didn’t get your ass shot.”

More later. Have some skittles, we’ll be here a while.

UPDATED:  crickets….crickets.  You don’t post, you don’t comment… hello, is this thing on?

8 Comments

  1. The overwhelming theme throughout the first ep for me was this: there is no fucking plan.

    It was all encapsulated through the maps that only appeared minutes before they were to leave. All the focus was on “invasion! weapons!” and yet, they didn’t even have adequate supplies. The officers didn’t have a clue what was going on. The Marines were bored out of their skulls and just ready to kill people.

    No mission, no objective. Just drive north.

    Maybe it’s because we’re watching this after six years of war, but the futility of it all is overwhelming.

    I’m not looking forward to the actual killing of folks. This is gonna be a rough ride.

  2. GAS GAS GAS!

    I admit, at my frist viewing, I had Iceman (Humvee 1 leader) and Fisk (his commander) totally confused

    still here ^_^

  3. I hate that the show premiered during my heavy work period. Comcast OnDemand sucked bad… it wasn’t working for some hours and I only caught half before I went to work last night.

    Which really only brings me to the different situation we had with The Wire. Those episodes were available on cable a week in advance, many of us had time to watch, form some ideas and then hit the blog with a big pretty comment right after the episode aired. Good times.

    I am going to watch the rest of the episode this morning and go to bed. From the first half of the first episode, you almost have to wonder if there’s a vaccine for testosterone poisoning. David Simon is not one for parody, right? Having spent my share of time around heavy-duty macho swagger, I can see where dudes like 1st Recon come from. What a fucking pack of wolves! So lethal in groups they are, and I guess that is the point.

    I really loved the book, an amazing account of this hated war’s beginnings. I can’t wait to see the rest of David Simon’s take on it. While so many of us were certain a clusterfuck was going to occur in Iraq, these guys were the first to see it happen. They are changed by what they went through, and we watch the transformation.

  4. you almost have to wonder if there’s a vaccine for testosterone poisoning.

    I promise I won’t quote him all the time but….

    Jacob: (emphasis mine)

    Normally at this point you’d get to know the people, but there’s a problem with Marines in how they all look the same, so instead you get to know what they look like in their underwear.

    These guys are like… You know how male cheerleaders are so interested in not being gay that it’s like they went through gay and came out the other side? They don’t think about the elephant so hard that it’s like they are creating the elephant with their buck-naked mind powers. While running around totally bored in their underwear, the Marines: talk about how gay everything is, blow up an espresso machine, worry intensely about J. Lo, and fight unendingly about what hats to wear and whether their mustache hairs are regulation. Needless to say, this comes with a lot of talk about how they’re not gay in any way, some justified bitching about their retarded superiors, and yet more running around in their underwear.

  5. you guys are killing me here – it’s no fun to lurk without the bloggage. I was looking forward to reading this site almost as much as I was looking forward to the actual episodes. My first take on GK and I’ve only seen it once is that it’s no Wire. But what is? (Certainly not Deadwood which I’d never seen and am on E5 or so). GK IS though incredibly sad (not unlike the wire ). No fucking turrets? No night vision? How is it possible that they didn’t have the info on the white trucks before heading in? How could they (the powers that be) not take care of those surrendering? What did that do to our reception and reputation. There is so much info presented if feels like a documentary. Which is not a problem. Certainly this info needs to be presented

  6. Okay, finally finally watched it. Was surprised by how hard I laughed, and how much it hurt, knowing what was coming for these boys. And I mean boys. Virgo, I read that passage from Jacob and it almost goes without saying but Jesus, yes, exactly.

    I love boys. Boys and their friendships, boys and what good friends they can be, how loud and stupid and funny and true. I grew up with boy cousins and I worked with boys and that’s the environment, full of smartass and bravado, where I feel the most at home. Here’s the thing, with boys like this: It’s mostly all about how you take their shit and if you give it back just as hard. That “oh yeah, who fuckin’ wants some, your mother, man” kind of attitude, and it’s so thin you can see right through it to the anger and the pain and the fear. There’s so little bullshit there, especially in contrast to their superiors, who are all about making excuses and concentrating on stupid crap.

    What a fucking mess we threw them into, and what crazy joy they pulled back out, just by being with each other. And it’s going to get so much worse. You just want to scream stop, turn around, move away, do something else. But on they march, these painfully young, terribly funny, incredibly awful boys, into it.

    Lynette, I’m jealous of you being a new Deadwood viewer, getting to see that vicious, erudite, glorious show brand-new. I’m re-watching now and can’t believe how rich and beautiful it was.

    A.

  7. There are connections to be made between GK’s tsunami of strutty, swingin’-dick maleness and some of the other themes we are going to see. Our character currently on the masthead, (Sgt. Lovell?) yells from his Humvee “vote Republican” at the Iraqis as the1st Recon column rolls in. It was funny. These men haven’t gotten into the shooting and killing part of the story yet, and I really think their lack of exposure to their own casualties and the horrible decision to inflict death on likely civilians is part of the reason we have so much of this cocky, uninhibited “vote Republican!” arrogance early on. Such an attitude was the core of that disgusting period of early war hype where even the Worst President Ever had approval ratings in the 90% range. Yeah, those crazy days when the true believers were having wargasms and shouting down those of us pointing out the obvious. Well, war does things to people. Real war does. This war has turned some soldiers into wiser, more restrained grownups, but not all of them. We have Gulf War vets who evolved into players on the leading edge of anti-war activism, others maintain a fierce loyalty to whatever the prevailing conservative themes are ( kind of like a religion).

    But there’s another part at play with so many men like these Marines, and it bothers me more than perhaps it should. There is some idea that it’s so much more macho and masculine to be Republican. These guys want to be Republicans because it somehow makes them feel like the hair on their balls is thicker. Maybe the Republican identity seems more “heterosexual” to some because of the hyper-masculine element, but I am going to guess many of those people have never been to a gay bar (sing it now “ Macho macho man, I want to be a macho man…). It’s so damn laughable. I wonder what that perceived more-hetero-than-thou stuff could lead to, like maybe, oh I don’t know,say… sitting U.S. Senators in airport bathroom stalls looking for BJ’s?

    But hey, these Marines are young and isolated, and they have more energy and libido than anyone sane should be asked to deal with. They have somewhere to channel all that excess, something to believe in. I can excuse their excesses. At least until they grow up a little.

  8. Lynette ask How could they (the powers that be) not take care of those surrendering? What did that do to our reception and reputation.

    First…this isn’t a documentary, and its has a decidedly left wing slant. One 15 sec scene could have explained what we REALLY did with those that surrendered. The recon teams mission was to do recon. NOT to set up POW camps. That was left for the Marines from Camp Pendleton to do. An entire brigade of Marines was 3 hours east & behind the recon Marines. Those Iraqis who surrenderred were instructed to keep waking East for another 2-3 hours where the Marines from MarDiv1 would take care of them. And that is what happened. They were fed, questioned, given water, and treated with dignity in accordance with the Geneva Convention. UNLIKE our solidiers who during the Gulf War were captured and tortured. So no Lynette, at that time during the initial invasion, our reputation was solid and intact. To some people, Iraq was a war of choice not necessity, to the Iranian dissident who escaped through a FREE and DEMOCRATIC Iraq last month, this was a war of necessity and one he is truly grateful for. As he has said on his blog, so grateful that he took a photo of his hand reaching out to the White House, to send a message to the Iranians mullahs and President who tortured him for 9 yrs….message was I am Free, In America, and your hands can never touch me again.


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