Burns & Novick mini series 'Vietnam' on public television

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Burns & Novick mini series 'Vietnam' on public television

#1  Postby proudfootz » Oct 07, 2017 9:27 pm

Celebrated documentary film makers Ken Burns and Lynn Novick have produced a much ballyhooed miniseries for broadcast in the United States on the Vietnam War.



It is notable for ignoring many critical historical facts which would perhaps make this a useful educational opportunity instead of a bland and conventional whitewash.

Lynn Novick instructs the critic in an interview, ““There is no agreement among scholars, or Americans or Vietnamese, about what happened: the facts, let alone whose fault, let alone what we’re supposed to make of it.” Burns punctuates his partner’s hymn to ambiguity, telling Kamp he disdained to give voice in their epic to “avuncular, Monday –morning quarterbacking from historians and scholars who never set foot in Vietnam.” There it is: throw out your Gibbon, unless the renowned author of The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire managed to time travel in the Way-Back machine with Sherman and Mr. Peabody to personally interview the Visigoths as they sacked the Eternal City.

Of course, Burns’ deaf ear here is really tuned to left historians who know quite well “what we’re supposed to make of it.” The conclusion is foregone that in the documentary we will not hear from Noam Chomksy, whose powerful writing on Vietnam constitutes a virtual library of its own; nor from Christian Appy, whose several works will inform a reader exactly what happened; nor from my friend John Marciano whose The American War in Vietnam is a gem suitable for inclusion on curricula wherever the war is taught. Perhaps in failing to present Vietnamese visas when they submitted their passports to Burns and Novick, these and other alleged ‘Monday morning quarterbacks’ came up lacking.


https://www.counterpunch.org/2017/09/01 ... o-critics/


In a society often bereft of historical memory and in thrall to the propaganda of its “exceptionalism,” Burns’s “entirely new” Vietnam War is presented as an “epic, historic work.” Its lavish advertising campaign promotes its biggest backer, Bank of America, which in 1971 was burned down by students in Santa Barbara, California, as a symbol of the hated war in Vietnam.

Burns says he is grateful to “the entire Bank of America family” which “has long supported our country’s veterans.” Bank of America was a corporate prop to an invasion that killed perhaps as many as four million Vietnamese and ravaged and poisoned a once bountiful land. More than 58,000 American soldiers were killed, and around the same number are estimated to have taken their own lives.

I watched the first episode in New York. It leaves you in no doubt of its intentions right from the start. The narrator says the war “was begun in good faith by decent people out of fateful misunderstandings, American overconfidence and Cold War misunderstandings.”

The dishonesty of this statement is not surprising. The cynical fabrication of “false flags” that led to the invasion of Vietnam is a matter of record – the Gulf of Tonkin “incident” in 1964, which Burns promotes as true, was just one. The lies litter a multitude of official documents, notably the Pentagon Papers, which the great whistleblower Daniel Ellsberg released in 1971.

There was no good faith. The faith was rotten and cancerous. For me – as it must be for many Americans – it is difficult to watch the film’s jumble of “red peril” maps, unexplained interviewees, ineptly cut archive and maudlin American battlefield sequences. In the series’ press release in Britain — the BBC will show it — there is no mention of Vietnamese dead, only Americans.


https://consortiumnews.com/2017/09/21/t ... f-history/


I would have gladly forfeited all the incessant Burns-Novick use of colored maps with red endangering the Far East (I counted this six times just in Part One); all of narrator Peter Coyote’s—who I used to think was a pretty decent guy—intoning the David Halberstamish warnings about Russia detonating an atomic bomb, or China going communist; I would have exchanged all of those warmed-over 1970’s clichés for just three minutes of the above passages from the Pentagon Papers. Since this was the real reason America got involved in Vietnam: our failure to stand up to the French desire to recolonize Indochina. In other words, Secretary of State Acheson valued the alliance with France more than he did Roosevelt’s pledge of colonial independence. And his failure to admit Bao Dai was a French puppet is what pushed Ho Chi Minh closer to Moscow.

Two questions so far: how can you elucidate anything as fundamental and documented as this if:

1) You never mention the name of Dean Acheson, and
2) You never mention the name of Bao Dai?

Incredible as that sounds, it is true. And it was at this (rather early) point that I began to question the film-makers’ honesty. It is fine and dandy to let people directly engaged in the conflict, that is, soldiers and civilians, have their say. It gives the series grounding in the day-to-day ugliness and drama of that prolonged horrific struggle. But do Tom Vallely, Duoun Von Mai and John Musgrave make up in importance for the lack of Acheson and Bao Dai?


https://kennedysandking.com/reviews/ken ... r-part-one
"Truth is stranger than fiction, but it is because Fiction is obliged to stick to possibilities; Truth isn't." - Mark Twain
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Re: Burns & Novick mini series 'Vietnam' on public television

#2  Postby aban57 » Oct 08, 2017 9:54 am

History is written by the winners, right ?
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Re: Burns & Novick mini series 'Vietnam' on public television

#3  Postby proudfootz » Oct 09, 2017 12:29 pm

Yes, the patrons of this whitewash will be very happy to have the conventional wisdom about the war be that it was a mistake but we 'meant well'.

Killed a few million people? Whoopsie!

Nobody's fault really.
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Re: Burns & Novick mini series 'Vietnam' on public television

#4  Postby I'm With Stupid » Oct 09, 2017 2:59 pm

I knew this American who went to the war museum in Saigon and was really upset about the way they portrayed the war, and insisted that America was fighting for democracy. What the fuck do they teach in schools over there?

At least in the UK we just quietly ignore our atrocities and learn about various kings and queens instead.
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Re: Burns & Novick mini series 'Vietnam' on public television

#5  Postby proudfootz » Oct 09, 2017 11:22 pm

There's a great many people in the US who seem to think our military was 'stabbed in the back' the way the German army was betrayed in WWI.

It's like the story from the Rambo movies: "We could have won, but the politicians wouldn't let us win." Never mind whether it was a just cause.
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