FF110 - Air Force

Intro by Adam Pranica

I had a lot of preconceptions about propaganda films before Friendly Fire. I thought they would be thinly veiled war-bonds-commercials with wooden perfect characters bombing Tokyo with enough hot apple-pies to force their surrender to our perfectly pomaded generals. "God bless America!", or whatever! Air Force is positioned to be exactly that, but right away you are introduced to a B-17 bomber crew chock full of shadowy pasts, imperfections and regrets.

It is a film that says: Your heroes aren't perfect, almost as much as: You don't have to be either. And that is inspiring in some way. But the film is disturbing in some others, I guess I just sort of assumed that the major thrust of a US propaganda film of this era would be exclusively about its one-sidedness and not resorting to just making shit up, but this film does and what it and others made up had atrocious consequences for Asian-Americans at the time.

Yes, the attack on Pearl Harbor was bad, infamously so, sufficiently tragic to invite the response it got even. This film is based on real events and real people and their real and true stories are sufficient to inspire noble enlistment. Did we really need to make up lies about Japanese-Americans participating in the attack? No, clearly! But does it ruin the film? It might for some people. But it also makes you think about how people formulate their opinions based on the media and entertainment they consume and the creeping effect of a lie believed by enough people affecting - holy shit, I think I am writing a film-paper right now!

And it is with that kind of consideration that I suggest going into watching an artifact like this. There has maybe never been a Friendly Fire film more a product of its time than this movie, and I am fully aware of what saying that means. It is like letting an aging relative say something fucked-up at Thanksgiving and then just shrugging your shoulders, saying: "What are you going to do? He is from a different time!"

I am not the type to forgive that and I am not the type to forgive this, but as a time capsule I think there is something to be learned from the way people used to think and act upon things, so that maybe, against every cynical expectation in my body, we can learn from our mistakes and do better. Can you keep a secret? That is good! On today's Friendly Fire as we take off for Air Force.

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