First Lady Michelle Obama this week asked a Los Angeles audience of about 500 Hollywood producers, writers, actors and directors to shine a spotlight on military families by wrapping our stories into movies and TV.
From the story:
"You have the vehicle to tell stories that just pull people in," the first lady told the audience. "I ... urge you to do what you do best. Be creative. Be funny. Be powerful. Move us, [and] move America to think differently about these issues and about these families, and about our men and women who serve so graciously."Obama told the audience that creating great TV and movies about military families won’t be hard because our lives are already so dramatic. We’re like a Hollywood story waiting to happen.
“ …. the stories are already compelling. The individuals are already pretty powerful."
Obama appeared at the event as part of her Joining Forces campaign, which aims to raise awareness of military family issues and encourage outreach among civilians.
While Hollywood is certainly a logical starting place for someone who wants to get an important story out there, the First Lady made one miscalculation: Hollywood does not have the greatest track record with this sort of thing. Encouraging them to give more (potentially careless and poorly researched) air time to MilFams has “train wreck” written all over it.
Military families, at least mine and the ones I’ve encountered, do not relish attention from Hollywood. Even Lifetime’s “Army Wives,” which is a hit within military circles, is approached with some skepticism. Hollywood’s portrayal of our lives and struggles are often poorly researched and executed. And, even worse, they tend to focus only on the pity-party worth aspects, ignoring completely the incredible pride and honor that makes up the bulk of our stories. The heart wrenching stuff is important, but it’s not a, soul, accurate depiction.
Don't get me wrong: I am extremely grateful for all the efforts the First Lady has put into Joining Forces and putting military families on the civilian world's radar. It is such an incredibly important thing. But if the whole point of this plea to Hollywood is to get them to put the military on civilians’ minds, why not make the pitch with a caveat?
Dear Hollywood, please showcase the REAL lives, strength and courage of our military families – not just the stuff that is sure to sell tickets. Much love, Me.
Photo by Flickr user KiranAmbre.