August 1, 2005, - 10:15 am

FX Defames American Soldiers in Iraq as Potheads

FX has been spending a lot of time promoting it’s new Steven Bochco mini-series, “Over There,” about American soldiers in Iraq. In promotions, it constantly claims that there’s no politics in the movie. Right.
In fact, in the Oliver Stone “Platoon” tradition, “Over There” portrays U.S. soldiers in Iraq as drug addicts and potheads. On last week’s premiere, soldier Maurice “Smoke” Williams lights up.
“Over There” co-creator and executive producer Chris Gerolmo told USA Today, “drug use is certainly a part of life in the Army.” I’m sure there are a lot of American soldiers who’d disagree with you, Mr. Gerolmo, including my Army veteran dad.
Shame on you and FX, both.

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3 Responses

I don’t know which Army Mr. Gerolmo is referring to. I served in the Army from 1996 to 2000. The military’s official position is that drug use is incompatible with military service. An Air Force friend of mine was discharged after testing positive for cocaine. I also read of an Air Force “genius” who tested positive for cocaine with 19 years, 11 months and a few weeks under his belt (he was just about to retire and lost everything).
I have no doubts, though, that some service members use drugs even with the sophisticated drug tests administered, but to depict drug use in the Army as rampant is asinine. It’s an argument made by somebody whose idea of real Army life likely lies in movies like Stripes and Sergeant Bilko.

rickzowie on August 2, 2005 at 5:18 pm

As someone who’s currently in the military, I have to say that drug use, even with our “zero tolerance” policy, is, in fact, a part of life in the military.
The military developed the “zero tolerance” policy in reaction to a spike in drug use in the US and Europe in the 70′s – itself likely related to the dramatic upsurge in drug use by military stationed in South East Asia in the late 60′s – early 70′s. That part of Stone’s Vietnam experience is corroberated by many other sources – although the extent of the drug use was quite dependent on unit, location, and time.
The sophisiticated tests used today that rickzowie mentions are just that – substantially more involved than anything I’ve heard about in private industry. Yet, some military members do take drugs, and some military members are caught (and invariably use the excuse that it was “an accident” or it was “just that one time”). Rickzowie’s right that the people who would take drugs in such an environment aren’t exactly mental giants.
Also, reading through the links you provided and having seen the episode in question, I see no evidence of the series (not movie) portraying the Army as “potheads” or “drug addicts” any more than the presence of black and female characters on the show portrays the Army as “African American” or “female”. Nor do I see anything that would characterize drug use in the Army as “rampant”. I’m also not quite sure how portrayal of drug use in the military is, in itself, a political issue.

Darkwater on August 4, 2005 at 10:03 pm

My son is in the army stationed in Afghanistan, and according to him “everyone” (incuding him) is basically stoned on this stuff called Spice, on duty and off duty. I don’t know a lot about this stuff because most internet sites tell you how great it is and how to buy it. Frankly, I’m disgusted that the Army allows this by turning a blind eye. I certainly hope they don’t get involved in anything dangerous. This is his third tour and each time he’s reported no danger, that it’s like a high-paying vacation, and that “boredom is on the march.” I know this sounds like I don’t “support our troops,” but frankly it’s becoming more difficult to do so when this is what we’re being asked to support.

jobamgirly on November 11, 2010 at 10:26 am

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