Film and Culture: a class where you go to watch movies and listen to lectures on the craft of creating a film. It was an interesting class, but not a hard one. Every class we would sit in the theater-like auditorium and spend the first two hours watching an entire movie. We had a variety of films from Casablanca to Memento.
I soaked up every second of every movie and all the information that followed, knowing that an easy A was coming of all this. Being a film nerd, I loved every part of it–every part but one. The veteran behind me.
“Marines are pussies.” Was the first thing I heard him say. His voice echoed just loud enough so everyone could hear him over the movie. We were basically in a movie theater, and he had begun his obnoxious commentary that allowed him to prove himself to 19-year-old college students.
In the movie, I can’t remember which, a Marine had failed in some way or another, to no fault of his own. But this guy took it as his opportunity to tell everyone how that this particular Marine was no special exception to failure. I turned my head and, as I expected, he wore a gaudy Army t-shirt that looked more like a recruiting billboard than an article of clothing. He was also grossly overweight.
I wanted to tell him that a Marine would probably know how to shut his mouth when he was in the middle of a class. I wanted to ask him if the Army ever taught him any sort of discipline, or even basic common decency like not talking in the theater. If the Army did teach him that, I wanted to ask him why he found it so easy to forget. Did he realize that he was making military men and women look like a bunch of loud mouthed idiots?
I shook it off then, shaking my head and continued watching the movie. But as the commentary continued, class after class, movie after movie, I eventually turned, looked him in the eye and at least mustered: “Dude, are you serious?” He didn’t talk again after that, but I wish I would have taken him aside and explained just how much he made me feel like punching him in the mouth.
I was in the Army too, and I have no problem with a little inter-branch competition. He was just a prime example of the vocal veteran you can expect to run into if you find yourself in college on the GI Bill.
They have no concept of the “service” part of their military career. To them it was a job that has earned them infinite entitlement from everyone around them. Ironically, they continuously whine about the entitlement of their fellow students, many of which just sit quietly and do their homework. One liberal remark about the economy and these guys are on a warpath to show off their wisdom from their alleged rough life in the military. Even if I agreed with them, they would just about make me cringe into a ball so hard I would implode into a black hole of embarrassment.
While some college kids fit the stereotypical, close-minded, elitist bill, most of them are normal, hardworking people. They are going to see right through the facade propped up by those loud mouthed, in-your-face veterans.
Most vets I ran into at school were level-headed, awesome men and women and I would rather spend time with them than most regular students. We had more in common, it made sense. I also found that the more combat experience they had, the more humble, quiet and professional they seemed to be. But the vocal minority; the self-proclaimed heroic veterans were among my least favorite people during my college years.
Because of all people, they ought to know better.
Featured image courtesy of USA Today