Sunday, May 23, 2010

Lessons from Watching HBO's The Pacific

I was busy doing...something else...when HBO premiered The Pacific earlier this spring. So I skipped the series altogether thinking I'd watch it On Demand after every episode was made available.

This weekend, I finally found time to run that marathon. Here are 10 lessons I picked up from watching all 10+ hours of The Pacific:

1) In real war, as opposed to movie wars, anyone can get wounded -- or killed -- at any time.

2) When you're low on troops, you pick the targets with the smallest square milages 'cause they possess less space to capture/hold.

3) After you do capture a hunk of land, there's no guarantee the people who ordered you to capture it are gonna use it for any reason other than planting a flag in it.

4) Australian girls were easy back then. And hella cute, too.

5) People can be turned off -- and on -- by patriotism for exactly the same reason Patton cited as the objective of war: You're not supposed to die for your country, you're supposed to make the other poor bastard die for his.

6) War smells awful. Maybe more awful than any combination of the awful-est smells your nostrils have ever been revolted by.

7) If you were a Marine in the early '40s, you never said "Hoo-Rah!" "Ooo-Rah!" or any derivation thereof. That musta come later.

8) The safest feeling any warrior can entertain is numbness. It can also be the most awkward feeling to manage.

9) No matter what war you're fighting in -- at any point in any place for any side -- there are always three enemies: the person who is trying to kill you; the physical environment in which combat takes place; and the inside of your own head.

10) For those who were tasked with fighting it, the war is never really over.

There are probably more lessons to take from a less intensely-sequenced viewing of the series. There is probably also one single lesson you can distill all of these things -- and all of the hours that went into producing or watching The Pacific -- down to:

White people will never tire of making movies about World War II.