"Why We Need Hollywood to Tell Our Stories"

Posted March 13, 2013

By: Molly Blake from Blue Star Families

Our country is in a bit of a pickle.  No, this is not another piece about sequestration because, I, like most American’s are sick to death of the S word none of us ever heard of before just recently.

But things are a mess right now.  And so I’m not going to write about that. I’m not going to peck away at my computer and espouse one side or the other because plenty of people – super smart people – have done that and no one seems to be listening.  I’m going to write about who is doing things right.  Let’s make lemonade from this epic orchard of lemons. And maybe add in some tequila, a little salt and call it a party.

And who better than Hollywood to show us how to turn nothing into something.  Hollywood, after all, turned a cheesy line into perhaps the most successful recruitment campaign never undertaken by the military.

“I feel the need … the need for speed.”

While “Top Gun” was all aerial dogfighting, call signs and ultimately a love story – Today’s films like “Zero Dark Thirty,” “The Hurt Locker,” and “Jarhead” reflect very real, very gritty details that unfortunately don’t always end with a fictitious bad guy ‘bugging off’ and the guy and the girl finding love in a greasy spoon. The war is about more than battle and I’m living proof. My children are proof.  Their friends who have deployed daddy’s are proof.

Don’t get me wrong, I am among the legions of volleyball scene fans. I really did fall in love with a jet pilot, he actually did attend Top Gun but he absolutely does not serenade me in bars.

But when it comes to the rank and file military spouses, the careers we maintain, our fierce pride, and all that spouses are doing to support one another, Army Wives is the benchmark.

The Lifetime show premieres on March 10 and women (and men) everywhere are desperate to see what happens to Jackie, and Roxy and Trevor. Since reports surfaced that Brooke Shields joining the cast as an Air Force Colonel, Army Wives devotees are counting down the days until the show airs again.  Army Wives is based on the book, “The Unwritten Code of Military Marriage” by Tanya Biank.  Is it entertainment? Yes, but it’s smart and fresh and has just enough drama to keep people tuned in – and in reality, our lives are not that sensational. Most of us work, raise our kids, volunteer on charity boards and stand a little straighter than most during the National Anthem. Military spouses are not lab rats – but it’s no secret that the majority of civilians don’t have much more than a tangential connection to someone in the military so a show like Army Wives is relevant and particularly so, because as the drawdown continues and our military families welcome their Marines and Soldiers home – telling the pink side of the story is paramount.

The only unfortunate part of this, however, is that those young boys and girls who joined the Navy after seeing Top Gun now have call signs culled from acts of tomfoolery: i.e. Shake Weight, Torch, Big Dummy, Stamp, Radish, Gizmo and Tumor — I hate to break it to you, but real call signs never sound as cool as they do in the movies.