'You Can't Handle the Truth': Hollywood, Military Justice, and Perception vs. Reality

Proceedings of the 2004 Film & History League Conference Entitled "War in Film, Tv, and History"

54 Pages Posted: 17 Nov 2004

Abstract

Are courts-martial really as bad as the movies make them out to be? Throughout the history of Hollywood, film has portrayed the military justice system as unfair, arbitrary, and ruthless. The relative isolation of courts-martial over other types of trials reinforces this cultural image. In my paper, I identify four main images of injustice prevalent in nearly all movies about military justice. These are: improper or unlawful command influence, lack of training for court personnel, unprofessionalism, and consistent denials of procedural due process. I conclude that the military must confront these images head-on, instead of simply dismissing them as inaccurate.

Keywords: Law & Popular Culture, Law & Humanities, Film Studies, Military Studies

Suggested Citation

Dungan, C. Peter, 'You Can't Handle the Truth': Hollywood, Military Justice, and Perception vs. Reality. Proceedings of the 2004 Film & History League Conference Entitled "War in Film, Tv, and History". Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=619265 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.619265

C. Peter Dungan (Contact Author)

United States Army ( email )

c/o USALSA - KFLD
901 N. Stuart St., Suite 500
Arlington, VA 22203
United States
(703) 696-2834 (Phone)

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