Platoon Poem and 1960s Culture War Psychology

Hi, it’s Andy Wolfhol. I’ve bartered an even better deal with our ol’ pal Marc Latham over at fmpoetry this week, getting over twenty-four hours exclusivity for his newest Folding Mirror poem, as long as we publicise his second poetry collection: 242 Mirror Poems and Reflections.

1960s Cartoon and Counter Culture

The poem is about the Platoon film, and contains some plot detail, so spoiler alert if you want to watch the movie without knowing any of the story.

Having studied Marc’s books in some detail I know that Platoon was quite a big film for him. Born in 1965, when the Vietnam War and counter-culture was just getting started, Marc wouldn’t really remember the adult period of war and revolution, but it would always interest him.

The Banana Splits in Hocus Pocus Park
The Banana Splits in Hocus Pocus Park (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

However, Marc would remember his first experiences of mass culture in  the late-1960s and early-1970s, when the liberty and colour of the hippy age movement probably influenced television shows such as Scooby DooThe Banana Splits and H.R. Pufnstuf.

Good and Evil Duality Folk Tales and Film 

H.R. Pufnstuf
H.R. Pufnstuf (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

H.R. Pufnstuf had a good and evil fairytale theme, and it was probably one of Marc’s first visual experiences of this fiction formula. It might well have influenced his interest in Greenygrey’s Rambles three and a half decades later.

Between the early inspiration and the written product, Marc had a whole lotta other influences, both in the fictional and factual worlds. One of the most important fictional influences before Marc travelled was Oliver Stone’s  Platoon Vietnam War movie, which really struck a nerve just a year before Marc set off.

Platoon Time and Place Relevance 

Hamburger Hill
Hamburger Hill (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Platoon was a major film, winning Academy Awards (Oscars) for best film, best director, best sound and best editing in 1986. In The Guns N’ Roses Worker-Traveller, Marc mentioned seeing a Platoon poster in the early days of his worker-traveller life on Crete, and also went to see spin-off Vietnam War films Full Metal Jacket and Hamburger Hill while there.

While Marc was a staunch socialist at the time, and didn’t agree with the Vietnam War, he was also a rookie adult, like the Platoon protagonist and his grunt colleagues, so he related to the American soldiers’ trials and tribulations, and hoped they’d pull through and survive.

Anyway, I Andy Wolfhol, have definitely digressed. Here’s the poem:   

Platoon (film)
Platoon (film) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Platoon Protagonist, Life Lessons

Good Elias Grodin
soldier of conscience
trained to kill
living for honour
remembering right
way to live and fight
shot in back
paradise lost
witnessed by
helicopter angel

rookie recruit Chris, Taylor rendered realist

heaven’s assassin
fait accompli
executioner’s song
finger on trigger
put end to war mad
regurgitating wrong
surviving on hate
killing for fun
sweet innocent child
Bad Sergeant Barnes

Cover of "Platoon (Special Edition)"
Cover of Platoon (Special Edition)

 

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