Oliver Stone’s Platoon has been praised for its brutal, yet honest depiction of wartime horrors during American deployment in Vietnam. The use of harsh violence does not seek to blindly heroicize soldiers, but to depict a sort of reality that gives a greater insight into life for soldiers during the war. While it is a war movie, it’s fair to say that it is a sort of protest in itself. It rejects the go-to heroic narrative of most war movies, instead opting for a more raw view of a less-than-united front. Taylor’s entrance into and exit from serving are both symbolic of issues that plagued soldiers, inexperience and painful emotional trauma.
Platoon begs an analysis of media that seeks signs of protest in unexpected places. The American counterculture ranged from larger and explicit movements like protests to smaller, day to day implicit protests and declarations of anti-establishment. The movie falls somewhere within this scale, with the ability to reach a wide range of audiences- after all, counterculture movies like “Hair” (my Mom’s personal favorite) do not necessarily attract viewership that hasn’t already bought into the movement and all its oddities. The existence of Platoon as a movie about war, written by a veteran, appeals to the idea that those who experienced the trauma firsthand are often the most raw and powerful creators of subversion and protest in the media.
I hold that sometimes, the best forms of protest to historically analyze are those that subvert establishment powers by implicit means, surprising viewers like Platoon does. Do you all have any favorite movies or other media that accomplishes this feat?