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A Haunting Tale of War, Cowardice and Masculinity.

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posted on Sep, 5 2012 @ 03:31 PM
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"Yellow" was a word for cowardice, and this is what the following haunting tale is all about.
It concerns the reality of human frailty and the fear of death, even during times of war, and how the system of masculinity maintains itself by weeding out such "weakness".

I would encourage fellow members to view the clip of about 40 minutes.
It is from the Tales from the Crypt series of comic-book based horror stories.
Mostly the series from the early 1990s is a rather low-brow gimmick, but this episode really gripped me.

The episode is titled "Yellow".
It is set during an American experience of trench warfare during World War I.
The main theme is between a son who is unable to deal with the war, and his father in the high command who sentences him to death for cowardice.
He does all this simply because he cannot stand being the father of a "yellow" coward.

There's a twist at the end.

I've always wondered how the high command could sentence people for cowardice, when they sit comfortably away from any battle, and it makes one wonder about who the real cowards are.

I recall how during the 1980s people were called "cowards" and jailed for 6 years in South Africa for refusing to fight in the SADF, and how later I saw American deserters fleeing to Canada while politicians (who had never been in an army) called for their executions.

Here, the issue is represented non-politically - the son merely doesn't want to die.
However, he was "yellow" in a sense.

But, did he deserve his sentence, especially from his own father?

I'd love to hear any opinions on this tale.



edit on 5-9-2012 by halfoldman because: (no reason given)




posted on Sep, 5 2012 @ 05:15 PM
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I'd think that the real crime of the son was to be vocal and outspoken.

If he would have hidden his feelings more it might have led to a resolution.

But how can one one continually hide feelings in a war where thousands died and were maimed in every battle?



posted on Sep, 5 2012 @ 05:23 PM
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reply to post by halfoldman
 


You have to hide your feelings. People don't give a damned about how you feel and if you act out on them you will be stomped, by any dirty trick available. Society places no value on feelings.

I think that if society did care about people's feelings, then society could be a better place than the pos it is today.

I truly don't understand why this is so, but there it is.



posted on Sep, 5 2012 @ 05:38 PM
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reply to post by EvilSadamClone
 

Yes, thanks for that truth.

And then there's an implied threat to power by voicing one's fears and feelings.
Most likely others feel them too, and before long the individual turns into a movement.

In the context of the short film there were two ways of stopping that.
The general could have merely dismissed his son from the army, or stationed him elsewhere.

However, he chose a more severe path which applied the letter of the law.



posted on Sep, 5 2012 @ 06:26 PM
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I wonder what would have happened in such a situation if the son just sat down and refused to move?

Perhaps resistance can go further than just vocalization?

A lot of people have a tendency to know they will fail at some things, and after they cause a disaster they rationalize it with: "Oh, I knew I shouldn't have gone out tonight", or "Oh, I didn't want to drink, but somebody encouraged me."

Of course that reasoning never works, even when it my be true.

So perhaps the "yellowness" was not doing enough to resist, although the outcome of that behavior in the context of World War I might have been the same.
edit on 5-9-2012 by halfoldman because: (no reason given)



posted on Sep, 5 2012 @ 08:39 PM
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Tales from the crypt!!! I remember seeing the first crypt movie in the theatre, Bordello something? I enjoyed it, though I was barely a teen at the time. I will watch this for nostalgic purposes, the only purposes that matter!!!



posted on Sep, 6 2012 @ 07:31 AM
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reply to post by halfoldman
 
Times were different during WWI. Society, Morals and Values were different. Nations were being built/rebuilt. This is clearly evident based on the current state of the society as per how far it has advanced. The only thing I'm not sure is the father's mindset (if it was a warrior clan mindset) if it was similar to the American Indian tribes where the traditions, customs and ways of life is passed down from one generation to another. Having to witness a failed/weak offspring would have been tough for such a person with a particular mindset IMO.



posted on Sep, 7 2012 @ 01:27 PM
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reply to post by hp1229
 

Thanks for that useful interpretative comment on the clip.
I think culture has indeed changed since World War I, and I think popular critical commentaries on war like this are a part of that change.

However, thematically the issues are still relevant.
The parents (especially fathers) who desire to extend their own politics or masculine gender identity through their kids (especially sons) can be seen to lesser or greater degrees in many movies and TV shows.

Just randomly I could think of Dead Poets' Society (a kid commits suicide because his father doesn't want him to partake in drama), Born on the Fourth of July (here the anti-communist and Catholic mother influences her son to fight in Vietnam) and more recently, In the Valley of Elah (the death of their son in Iraq brings up issues of family military history and pressure for an elderly couple) and the militaristic homophobic father in American Beauty.

I'd say that setting the tale in World War I was a deliberate distancing technique.
Since hardly anyone knows or cares about the political issues of that war nowadays, it allowed the human issues to be explored.

Historical film usually tells us more about the time it was made, rather than the period depicted.
But it certainly could be debated further.
Perhaps World War I does have certain "horror tropes", or unconscious reactions to mass death in the trenches and the futility of being "cannon fodder" that are deeply embedded in culture.

In times of war propaganda and censorship anti-war film and theater often use another historical war to refer to the current situation, especially since it takes a while for audiences to confront the recent past.
edit on 7-9-2012 by halfoldman because: (no reason given)



posted on Sep, 7 2012 @ 04:41 PM
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If you'd like a Soldier and Officer's prospective it is not so much about the Lieutenant being "yellow" as it is he is not following the directives of his superiors. Sure it hurts the father that this is the impression his son has made on the "men" but the impression comes from the son's lack of will to carry out an attack that he thought would result in too many casualties to justify.

Lack of disciplne and strict adhearance to an order is a cancer and especially if that cancer is manifest in one who has some authority himself as the Leiutenant does.

He is a leader and in his own right is supposed to make decisions on the battlefield but not ones beyond the scope of his sphere of influence. Ordering a retreat in becasue of high casualties is not his sphere of influence. Maybe as a result antoher unit was unable to complete their missions and so on ad infinatum.

Failure to follow orders even ones that cost lives in combat is a capitol offense.



posted on Sep, 7 2012 @ 05:20 PM
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reply to post by Golf66
 

Thanks for that informed opinion.


The son is however not sentenced to death for ordering a retreat.
At this point the General is still willing to believe that this decision could have been purely tactical.
That's when he sends his son on a kind of test (which he predictably fails).
At least that was my reading, although there are all kinds of possibilities.

I'm not sure if it would have made a difference at that time, but the son voices his mental incapability quite clearly.
Sending somebody like that on a mission must surely also be foolishness.

But wasting lives seems to have been the norm in World War I, often over tiny amounts of territory, and a lot of mental illness would simply have been classified as "yellow".

But I guess in one reading the father was correct from a rigid military point of view.
The son did disobey orders.

edit on 7-9-2012 by halfoldman because: (no reason given)



posted on Sep, 7 2012 @ 06:54 PM
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Originally posted by halfoldman
The son is however not sentenced to death for ordering a retreat.
At this point the General is still willing to believe that this decision could have been purely tactical.


I'm with you there I was just illustrating a point.


Originally posted by halfoldman
That's when he sends his son on a kind of test (which he predictably fails).
At least that was my reading, although there are all kinds of possibilities.


It was indeed IMO both a test of for his son's loyalty, but it was also very much given IMO so as to offer the opportunity for the son to redeem the families honor. Because in the end the father will have to endure the sins of the son in this scenario for his men will come to wonder if the General is deserving of their loyalty.


Originally posted by halfoldman
I'm not sure if it would have made a difference at that time, but the son voices his mental incapability quite clearly.
Sending somebody like that on a mission must surely also be foolishness.


What was once termed "Shell Shock" (now PTSD) on the casualty tags of Soldiers was not commonly recognized until very late in WWI. Even then while the medical community saw it as a real thing many leaders viewed it as cowardice at worst weakness at best - neither desirable in Soldiers.


Originally posted by halfoldman
But wasting lives seems to have been the norm in World War I, often over tiny amounts of territory, and a lot of mental illness would simply have been classified as "yellow".


Having a Masters in History (specifically military history) one thing is for sure wasting of lives was common in WWI. The frontal assault was still the tactic of choice made in hopes though many wold die enough would make it thro. However, the new weaponry (the invention and use of the machine gun) had all but negated this tactic of massed charges of men.


In France, the heavy losses in manpower at the front decimated an entire generation of Frenchmen and is thought to have created a leadership vacuum when that generation came of age. France had fallen behind Germany and England in population during the 19th century. They were, therefore, less able to sustain wartime losses.

www2.sunysuffolk.edu...


It also resulted in a literary movement in Paris after the war....


The "Lost Generation" defines a sense of moral loss or aimlessness apparent in literary figures during the 1920s. World War I seemed to have destroyed the idea that if you acted virtuously, good things would happen. Many good, young men went to war and died, or returned home either physically or mentally wounded (for most, both), and their faith in the moral guideposts that had earlier given them hope, were no longer valid...they were "Lost."

www.montgomerycollege.edu...



Originally posted by halfoldman
But I guess in one reading the father was correct from a rigid military point of view.
The son did disobey orders.


IMO while the General knew his son had to die he knew he would not face it well. At least some good could come of the event if he used some subterfuge and convinced his boy he'd not really die giving him the courage to face his execution well and thus at least maintain the morale of his Soldiers and retain their loyalty.




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