To ‘Hurt’ critics, the truth hurts

Scott Sadler Contributor
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On one of her recent Facebook status updates a friend made reference to the Academy Award winning movie, “The Hurt Locker,” calling it “the most intense thing she’s ever watched.”  From Facebook to Twitter to the blogs and the mainstream media, “The Hurt Locker” has gained more attention recently than when it first hit the screen last summer.  The movie chronicles an Army Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) team during the Iraq War.

Critics will argue of the movie’s inaccuracies.  Proponents will say this is what war is like.  What movie, based on a real world event, hasn’t received some push back?  The Deer Hunter and Platoon, two movies based on the events of the Vietnam War, had their fair share of critics.

There has been mixed reaction about “The Hurt Locker” among U.S. Soldiers.  Just as Sgt. Eric Gordon, an Air Force EOD technician on his second tour of Iraq, would “watch it with other EOD people and laugh” Purple Heart winner Drew Sloan, a former U.S. Army captain, suggests “this is what’s going on for the men and women who are fighting this war.”

The top U.S. Commander in Iraq, Gen. Ray Odierno, recently called the movie “a good representation of the sacrifice and dedication that it takes here.”  Gen. Odierno acknowledges that it could be “a bit more accurate in some areas” but “it shows first the camaraderie that is required here — the tension, the risk that’s involved in some of the jobs that we do here.”

Critics have also said the movie contains “too much John Wayne and cowboy stuff.”  For his part, Defense Secretary Robert Gates called the movie “authentic” and “very compelling”, through his spokesman, Geoff Morrell.

I can appreciate the opponents who underscore the word erroneous when discussing this film.  For me it really wasn’t about that.  Upon my return from Baghdad last summer, I watched “The Hurt Locker.”  The takeaway for me was the enormous sacrifice our men and women make on a daily basis in a war zone.  It’s easy for anyone who has served in a combat zone to criticize the movie because they may know different.  I’d hope it would put a face on war for a majority of Americans who don’t see that kind of life.

In Gen. Odierno’s words, “I think people don’t understand how complex the environment has been here over the last several years.”  If even one American’s view is changed because of that, this movie will have done its duty.

Scott Sadler is a crisis communications operative who has served in senior level positions in the federal government, Capitol Hill, and in a military theater of operation.