History Films, Women, and Freud's Uncanny

By Susan E. Linville | Go to book overview

Chapter Three
“THE MOTHER OF ALL BATTLES”
Courage Under Fire and the Gender-Integrated Military

As a televisual war and media event, Operation Desert Storm, like Prospero’s magic, was directed toward rectifying past losses. Packaged, censored, and promoted as not the Vietnam War, the conflict in the Persian Gulf was to dramatize what Susan Jeffords has memorably termed the remasculinization of America, coupled with a derealization of civilian suffering.1 Whereas photographs of napalmed Vietnamese villagers had once haunted the national conscience, injured and dead Iraqi women and children became, in callous Pentagonese, mere “collateral damage.” Whereas televised reports of the barbarism of the 1968 massacre at My Lai once rendered American soldiers alien, televised images of American troops in the gulf revealed familiar everyday heroes, fighting for family and friends.

Historically, the Gulf War stood in contrast to the Vietnam War in an-

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