How was opposition to the Vietnam War portrayed in contemporary literature, film and popular song?

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How was opposition to the Vietnam War portrayed in contemporary literature, film and popular song? There is a vast variety of media forms which can influence any person’s opinion on certain topics, the strongest of which would be music, literature and film. During the war, Vietnam was one of the more prominent themes up for discussion, and continues to be quite a popular topic today. Artists like Bob Dylan and the Clash were quick to voice their attitudes on social and political events, and the Vietnam War was an important time for this. Many artists decided to use their music as a means of reaching the masses with their own opinions as it was available in so many different ways; through radio, television, and today online. In the same sense, film and literature are both widely accessible. A set of lyrics, a script or a poem can be delivered to vast amounts of people in their thousands, and the views embedded in these circulate and begin to discover a following. This exemplifies the huge influence and major following that media oppositional to the war had and still has today. Depending on the manner in which a song, movie or poem/story was conveyed, it could have a major impact on the ideas of its audience.A very popular way in which musicians expressed their hostility to the war was through satire and comedy, a prime example of which lies with folk-punk group, the Dead Milkmen. They successfully manage to ridicule the US involvement in Vietnam with their track “Beach Party Vietnam”. The song is immediate in its use of mockery, using American symbolism to poke fun at the personal relationship that one man has with his country when he gets “a letter from his Uncle Sam”, and then satirises the dire mission that he is about to embark on; he does not receive a call to war, and is instead “invited to a beach party, Vietnam”. Joe Jack Talcum (the lyricist) is quick to mock all aspects of the war, including the enemy and the pitiful conditions endured; “Surfin’ with the Viet Cong / Cookin’ hotdogs with napalm / A beach party, Vietnam”. This playful reference to the Viet Cong is used to make Americans see that Vietnam was never a threat to them and the flippant mention of napalm is included to highlight the U.S.’s frivolous use of something so dangerous and harmful, a substance which they downplayed. The climax of the song is a blatant use of obscene satire and is completely insensitive to the damage down to both American and Vietnamese soldiers. Talcum talks us through a conversation between two young lovers, “Hey Frankie, aren’t you gonna give me your class ring? / I’m afraid I can’t do that Annette / Why not? / Because I don’t have any arms!”. Talcum also ends this dialogue with a prolonged howl of laughter, but this is done to deliver his point. To
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laugh at the devastation of the Vietnam War would be twisted and cruel, but in saying that we realise just how extreme this devastation was. Talcum is not mocking what had happened; he is contesting the American involvement in the war in a very effective and attention-grabbing way.Another very efficient way for songwriters to deliver their oppositional ideas is through the use of an anecdote or empathetic writing. This is seen in practice through the lyrics of “Post-War Breakout”. Although penned by the famous American folk singer Woody Guthrie, he never got the chance to complete the song. It was ...

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