War what is it good for

A good story in my eyes is one that engages me beyond listening, watching, or reading. Typically when I’m watching a great movie I end up becoming absorbed into trance like state that leaves me confused on my whereabouts when the credits start rolling. Usually for a good book I’ll end up mindlessly repeating something small until I realize that I am about to break something. Either way, a good story is one that engages you in more ways than one.

My story analysis looked towards the evolution of how war is portrayed up to the 80’s and beyond. The Vietnam war marked an evolution in human society both domestically and militarily. What movies like Full Metal Jacket, Apocalypse Now, (technically 1979, but still) and Platoon presented was, for a lack of a better term, the duality of man. While these movies are partially fictionalized they present real scenarios that were played out day by day in the lives of people who fought.

From what we know of the Vietnam war is on a smaller scale there were few who dictated the path that unfurled for something as small as a platoon for example. In that sense the highest ranking member of a platoon operates in a real life hypertext narrative. Life in general is based on the path you chose, but when the control of life is displaced it comes down to what decisions (if any) are made above you. Previously war movies hearkened on a bigger sense of unity through something like patriotism. War time atrocities for the most part weren’t portrayed in earlier films even some early Vietnam War films.

Apocalypse now is a movie that feels almost metaphysical in nature. It’s one of the rare movies that keeps an almost dream like undertone throughout the entire movie. The story follows a war torn vet, Captain Benjamin L. Willard, on a mission to kill a colonel who went rogue. Willard himself is already developing some of the mind bending affects of combat which leaves him in a state of, when he is not on duty he wants to be back in the jungle, when he is on duty the opposite is true. The movie itself is a cinematic masterpiece incorporating captivating scenes of Vietnamese jungle and coastal regions. On the other side there are numerous areas showing a worn torn region and a worn torn population. The sense of duality is supported by a main part of the plot, which is the fact that he has to cover an almost never ending river. His journey takes him through different stages of combat, each one becoming less meaningful towards the end of the movie. Their descent into the river paralleled their descent into madness. Each river base they encounter shows more and more of what combat did to the minds of those twenty year old kids at the time. Eventually the movie turns to a disassociated state when they no longer are using drugs to cope, but they are using every day. The climactic point of unorganized chaos is when they reach the Do Lung bridge. Fireworks are being set off on the bridge with some of them hitting the bridge making it wobble above the river. The people on the base are engaging in full on conflict with no one shooting back from the other side. Everyone else depicted waited in the darkness and just stared. While Captain Willard traverses the bunkers a mix of eerie music and guitar riffs fills the air along with screams and gunfire. Once Willard finally finds some fuel and leaves the bridge itself is slowly collapsing in itself from being shot at or hit with fireworks.

The audio alone is pretty freaky.

A lot of what is thought of war is what I would consider a linear outcome. Effectively the war itself follows a purpose for the greater good of humanity, and those who took part and were affected can move forward with their lives once they rebuild. This movie gave a piercing glimpse into what millions of Vietnam veterans still come to grips with today. Soldiers who fought faced internal challenges that go against what makes society work. The duality of man brought out through this war specifically should only exist then and never repeat itself. Apocalypse now is one of the rare movies that showed the horrors that everyday soldiers endure beyond killing. While it is fictionalized to some aspect, atrocities like it existed and that is what makes it a compelling story. Any story that can shed light on a purposefully forgotten past enhances it value to our society greatly.

Another day

Nothing to me is more relaxing than observing some of natures gifts to the world. As a child me and my neighborhood friends used to film almost everything around us. At that time I had no appreciation of the outside world that surrounded me and because this a lot of what brought me warm memories, is now receding. I can attest this to many factors one possibly being global warming while the other being I lost value in what I saw. Looking back at those videos we filmed summer after summer, left me puzzled as to how I managed to let everything slip away.

The street I grew up on had an almost perfect mixture of city life and nature. During the height of the summer towering trees would canopy over the entrance of one side of the street so the searing pavement was nothing to worry about on our bare feet. Within a big plot of land there was a mini forest which we dubbed the “black forest” during the dormant months. On the right side of the forest there was a hilly field center pieced with a withering stump. That side of the street wasn’t as built up compared to the other half and because this we basically did whatever we wanted. That forest was a place we would all gather and play little games here and there. The other side of the street was where me and all my childhood friends lived, which wasn’t any less green than the latter, but our time here was usually where we split as a group. The boys of the neighborhood would go play football, while the girls would go on their own and do whatever they did when we weren’t all together.

I would consider the people who grew up on the same street some of my closest friends. In retrospect we might not have even become close in the first place without our streets. On our side of the street we might have stayed divided, possibly only talking in our public school situation. The forested area provided a place where we all enjoyed the company of one another and found common ground. Just how nature shapes the world around us holistically, the small plot of woodland we played in shaped how I go about my life to this day.

Unfortunately as I’m writing this more of that area is being bulldozed to accommodate a massive gravel driveway that cuts through my street to the one above it where all the rich people happen to live. A family that moved in the neighborhood later leveled the whole field area for nothing in the end, only to leave piles of dirt. I don’t know what the forest will look like when I return home next, but I do appreciate all the times my tiny plot of nature gave me.

From Harlem to stardom

It was a cool summers night in the big apple, but just like any other night there was always a reason to go to the club. A young man known to his family and friends as Frederick Anthony Jackson, recently came off a dismal spell of bad luck outside his home. The reason he moved out west to begin with was to follow his passion for music. Two years in Hollywood would amount to be a dreadful era for in his budding music career. Like many people before him and after, Freddy would return home to salvage whatever he could to continue and make the music that he loves.

Thankfully the New York City club scene was a more forgiving stage to him. Years before he left on his journey he started to make a name for himself by performing one offs here and there at various night clubs. One evening Freddie was asked to perform at a club which coincidentally was named “Freddie’s.” That night Freddy would sing his heart out in front of the club patrons of whom thought they had never heard anyone quite like him. Unbeknownst to Freddy, a certain catalyst in his career explosion happened to be sitting in a booth thinking to herself “My god, what a voice.”

This was my submission for the Random Wikipedia Writing assignment. Thankfully I was able to find one that stayed on topic in the 80’s. The random page I got was about Freddy Jackson an R&B/Soul singer who’s career blossomed in the 80’s. The certain catalyst towards the end of the story was Melba Moore who was already a Tony winning/Grammy nominated artist at the time. There seemed like a lot of once in a lifetime occurrences that happened to Freddy Jackson. The fact that his career was able to takeoff at a place called Freddie’s is ridiculous. Thankfully we have multiple sources that documented these happenstances.

Bird Magic

For the Forrest Gump project, I superimposed my face over a Philadelphia . The 1983 finals ended in a 4 game blowout where the Los Angeles Lakers had no chance. The significance of this series isn’t too important to the game of basketball, the events that followed altered the course of NBA history. For the rest of the decade the NBA finals always included The Boston Celtics with Larry Bird, or the Los Angeles Lakers with Magic Johnson. The Larry Bird and Magic Johnson era serves as a cornerstone to the evolution of how the game is played. Without this fierce rivalry the league might have lagged behind other sports, thus we might not have superstars like Michael Jordan, Kobe Bryant, LeBron James.

This is really my first time messing around with some type of photo editing software, but after I while I’ll be able to make sure my neck doesn’t come out with two different colors.

The Thing from Elm street on a Friday

Favorite Movie Quote

In my opinion the 80’s produced some of the best horror movies of all time. Most of the movies i’m fond of from this era are those films where you have to think about what you just watched for about twenty minutes after. The 80’s pioneered a new wave set and costume design, while screenwriters produced ideas for some of these films that came straight from nightmares. Movies like: Pumpkin Head, The Fly, and Alien all have main protagonists who are some of the ugliest creatures on film. While movies like Hellraiser The Shining, or The Thing have story-lines make you feel like it was going to happen to you next. Hellraiser is one of the weirdest movies I’ve ever watched how did Clive Barker think of all this.

What the 80’s movie collective is known for is the slasher films. Friday the 13, Nightmare on Elm Street, the Chuckie franchise and others were wildly successful into the future from their original releases. Out of the slasher films I’ve sat through I think the Nightmare on Elm Street franchise is my favorite. While it is scary and suspenseful throughout the movie there are some moments of almost out of place humor.

The quote I decided on for this post isn’t one of some significance to the movie, but I chose it just because of how stereo-typically 80’s it is. This is the scene where Nancy first encounters Freddy after hearing his voice a few sleeps prior. Towards the beginning of the scene Nancy goes down to the boiler room which happens to not exist under a school, but rather another place in the movie that Freddy chases everyone into in their dreams. The quote comes towards the end of the scene where Nancy is backed up into a corner with Freddy closing in. Moments before Nancy wakes up, Freddy is mere feet away from Nancy and says “come to Freddy” followed by a “GODDAMN YOUUUU” screamed out by Nancy. The part that gets me is that they immediately pan over to Freddy and he is just flicking his tongue back and forth. The directors thought it was a good idea to pair laser beam sound effects with the flicking of his tongue.

I created the gif from this clip so if you want to hear it for yourself its from 3:10-3:15

What do the 80’s mean today?

For me the 80’s symbolize a strange in between period in American culture that is overlooked. Out of a all the questionable products from the 80’s like big hair bands and crack, I believe that the golden age of film production started in this era. Classics like: Back To The Future, Gremlins, Ghostbusters, ET, Die hard, ETC. There are too many blockbuster films that were produced in the 80’s for me to even mention in this blog post. Most of these films went on to be franchises in the future which include some big hitters like Indiana Jones and the Star Wars films. Without these cinema masterpieces I feel a big portion of my childhood would have been dull.


Hi! My name is Michael Barnard, I’m a Sophmore at Mary Washington majoring in Historic Preservation. I am taking this course because it fulfills a general education requirement, but I think the way this class is structured it could prove to be more fun than I thought.

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