It’s too bad that the first movie ever made about a female Marine has to be about a lesbian for the anti-Don’t-Ask-Don’t-Tell and LGBT crowd – now comically called “GLBTQIA” gay, lesbian, bisexual, transexual, questioning, intersexed and asexual. I think I’ll start a group called AWEWTBAPOSBIA: the Anyone Who Ever Wanted To Be A Part Of Something But Isn’t Already club. (To my gay friends, just teasing!) Or how about: MWASOFMABPATBGIM: Military Who Are Sick of the Military Always Being Portrayed as the Bad Guy in Movies. But I digress.
Those curious computers at Netflix somehow thought that this film was related to my search of WWII documentaries. Those crazy kids in love! Not quite, but seeing the title A Marine Story with a smart-looking gal on the cover, and being myself a female Marine Iraq war vet, I added it to my queue. I didn’t realize until after when I found the website that it was about “the absurdity of the military ban on gays through the personal story of one courageous woman.”.
So I watched the story unfold without preconceived notions, and there was a lot I really liked about it. Dreya Weber is great to watch with her incredible physique which she gets from being an aerialist and gymnast. I mean, I wanted to be her and she reminded me of how I felt during boot camp, active duty and deployment. Ooorah! Her acting’s not bad either, her Drill Instructor mode brought me right back to Oscar Company, Parris Island. As a former Tae Kwon Do buff and kung-fu movie-geek I have to say there was nothing phony about the bar fight in the film. And of course, I loved the themes of breaking through yours barriers – within and without.
Then there’s the whole point of the movie, which is that Dreya Weber’s character is a closeted lesbian who married for cover to a male gay Marine, was abused, set up and tossed out of the Marine Corps for being gay.
I may have to take exception to what I said before about watching this movie without preconceived notions. When I see a film that’s about the military, I can’t help but wonder: How will this one ridicule, discredit or demoralize the military? That seems to be one characteristic, with a few exceptions usually involving WWII, that Hollywood movies about the military seem to share.
You have your Platoon and Full Metal Jackets. Or for one more recent like The Brothers – where they scripted that the officer beats his lance corporal to death when a gun is put to his head by their terrorist captors. I guess they didn’t think portraying in detail what it might be like to be a hostage to the Taliban was enough. More PTSD! And it doesn’t matter that no Marines or anyone else kidnapped by terrorists has done this kind of thing. It could happen! We need to portray how bad war is! We have to portray the darkest darkness of the human soul! For the chaps and dames making these movies with their penetrating anti-war themes, there was no World War II, no Holocaust, and there’s no need to fight those nasty folks strapping bombs to themselves and hijacking airplanes to fly into buildings.
A Marine Story is more like the Rambo category where the main character is military or former military, so he’s a highly skilled stud, but the military that made him a highly skilled stud is bad. Dreya’s character Sam is told in one-on-one meetings in a superior’s office with no council, that she has to prove that she’s straight to avoid a charge of conduct unbecoming of an officer. To do this, according to the script’s setup, she would have to say that she’d had a hetero affair or let the superior officer have sex with her.
Here’s where I realize I may have to take another exception with regard to preconceived notions because of my own experience. When I was an active duty Marine (2004-2008) there were so many things in place to prevent exactly this type of situation. When a woman is doing any thing from a doctor’s exam to being charged, there is always a third person involved. In being examined it’s a nurse of the same sex. In the case of sexual harassment and assault, there are people whose sole purpose is to support women who have been abused or assaulted, with great care to executing justice while protecting confidentiality. The military doesn’t want to be a place where women are hurt any more than any other business, and has been made to be just as politically correct as the rest of society.
A Marine Story also paints an ideal of female Marines. The women who fit this ideal are indeed the Drill Instructors, and they are rare. Drill Instructors inspire my complete awe. As much as we didn’t sleep during boot-camp, they slept less. As hard as we worked, they worked harder, ran longer, ran harder, pushed more. To me they are like gladiators, and they are very few.
This movie is not a true story of a courageous woman. Just A story.