Generation Kill: America’s Videogame Generation Goes to War

November 9th, 2010 - by admin

ABC Australia and Journeyman Pictures & Evan Wright / Rolling Stone – 2010-11-09 23:08:06

Video: Generation Kill — Iraq
ABC Australia and Journeyman Pictures

Generation Kill

Generation Kill is based on Evan Wright’s non-fiction book of the same name, which he researched as an embedded journalist in Iraq for a series of articles in Rolling Stone that eventually turned into the book.

The story focuses on the early missions of the 1st Reconnaissance Battalion, and the challenges they faced, leading to confrontations between the Marines and the military bureaucracy.

The book also looks at the differences between today’s military personal and those from earlier generations, with the young soldiers today having grown up with videogames and the Internet.

Generation Kill — Iraq:
Transcript (6 min 30 sec)

August 16, 2004


UNIDENTIFIED US SOLDIER 1: It’s the ultimate rush, because you know you’re going into the fight to begin with and then you got a good song playing in the background and that gets you real fired up.


UNIDENTIFIED US SOLDIER 2: War itself is heavy metal, yeah.


GITTOES: That is the first war that’s kind of
been driven by poetry, this urban poetry of rap and rock ‘n’ roll.


Harley: Over two decades, acclaimed Australian war artist George Gittoes has seen plenty of conflict – from Nicaragua to Somalia.

GITTOES: You kind of ask, why do I need to come here?

Harley: During an 18 month stint on the frontline in Iraq, he has put down his pencils and paintbrushes and picked up a video camera to portray America’s first digital media generation at war.

GITTOES: These are not like the soldiers who have come back from any other war.

When they first came, they expected it to be like Rambo or like a video game or like Black Hawk Down, but when they actually got there, it didn’t take long before they found it was completely earthy, gritty.


UNIDENTIFIED US SOLDIER 3: (Sings) Saddam, what ya doin’? We’re a comin’ for you.

Harley: The culture George Gittoes has captured on videotape was also observed by others on the frontline.

Rolling Stone magazine contributor Evan Wright was embedded with the Marines 1st Reconnaissance Battalion on the road to Baghdad.

His first book about their ultra violent culture is called Generation Kill.

WRIGHT: They were raised by television, Hollywood movies, video games,Internet porn. That stuff was available to them from a very young age. And that’s sort of how they were acculturated into society.


Harley: Both book and documentary offer unvarnished insights into the complex meeting of youth culture and the American military machine. It’s war fought by the first PlayStation generation.

Here, music matters and “Soundtrack to War” homes in on its use in combat.


UNIDENTIFIED US SOLDIER 2: This is the one we listen to the most. This is the one when we travel, when we’re killing the enemy. Going through war, coming up here into Iraq, coming into Baghdad — Drowning Pool, “Let the Bodies Hit the Floor,” is definitely the song we listen to.

That’s the motto for our tank — Let the Bodies Hit the Floor — because it was just, it was fitting for the job we were doing.


Harley: George Gittoes has spent the last few weeks in New York. Some of his material is featured prominently in Michael Moore’s controversial film Fahrenheit 9/11.

And Soundtrack to War is about to have a month of screenings on American music channels, including MTV.

GITTOES: I have worked in America since I was 18 and I haven’t seen the country as polarised as it is now since the time of Vietnam War. The impact that I hope the film has is that America will actually appreciate and understand the soldiers that it sent to Iraq, and there isn’t any understanding. In fact, most people here seem to be oblivious to what they’re going through and I think that will help them.

UNIDENTIFIED US SOLDIER 4: This is an M1 Abraham main battle tank. And in our communications system, there is a place where it’s possible to hook up a CD player, so if you want to check it out.

From right here, I control the music and it works in all four helmets. So when we’re cruising down the road, I’m listening to Tupac.


Harley: George Gittoes says that it’s no accident that for many soldiers, gangster rap has become the soundtrack to the first conflict of the 21st Century.

GITTOES: A lot of these soldiers have come from street battles.

They’ve been involved, particularly the rappers, in a very tough lifestyle and they’ve made the best soldiers because they’ve been doing it on the streets in America. Like, like urban America is kind of a war zone.

WRIGHT: There is not a huge difference about writing about south central Los Angeles and the gang wars down there and writing about, you know, Saddam City and Baghdad.
Harley: Evan Wright has closely covered inner city American violence before the war in Iraq.

His book portrays a fighting force drawn largely from broken homes, raised in a cynical, digital age.

WRIGHT: The majority of these guys were raised by either single parent homes or in homes where both parents worked, so, in effect, they didn’t really have a lot of parenting.

In Vietnam, the whole story is of a generation of Americans that were innocent and they lost that innocence in the jungles of South-East Asia. And in this case, these guys were raised on violent video games, movies and a presidential sex scandal involving president Clinton. So these guys, I always tell people, were sort of pre-jaded.

Harley: These soldiers, argues Evan Wright, are unlike those who came before them.

WRIGHT: One thing about them is they killed very well in Iraq.

UNIDENTIFIED US SOLDIER 5: (Raps) We keep it real in the battlefield…

JONATHAN HARLEY: Ultimately, both observers offer a portrait of a complex street-smart and creative generation of fighters who find the reality of war far removed from the screen battles of their childhood.

UNIDENTIFIED US SOLDIER 6: Usually you see in the movie, bang, you’re dead. You fall down. Here, bang, you should be dead. Your guts are hangin’ out but you’re still walkin’ around, still talkin’.

Sittin’ in a swing set, swingin’ like you’re half crazy. Like, they don’t die!

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