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Old 08-15-2013, 07:08 AM
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I'm looking for American-produced stories in which the United States is the villain ...


in an international armed conflict.

By "American-produced," I mean either written by an American citizen or published by an American company, and preferably both.

I'm specifying international armed conflict because I'm not interested in stories like, oh, Stephen King's Firestarter*, in which a shadowy government cabal exploits or abuses American citizens on our soil. I want stories in which there's actual battles (if not all-out war) on foreign soil.

Need I explain villain? Okay, fine. In the story, the US should either be perceived by the protagonist as being the aggressor, or be shown as such by the tone of the narration.

I don't care if the stories are novels, comic books, movies, television shows, or theatre, or are heroic fantasies or more thoughtful dramas. No comedies, though (I ask in full knowledge that I'll be ignored if the thread gets legs).

Thoughts, anyone?
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Old 08-15-2013, 07:18 AM
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Wag the Dog is a movie about starting a war for a presidential political reason. Though you could argue that a party seized the reins of government and used it for its own ends, so it's arguably a movie about an invisible coup. Long time since I've seen it, though ...

FYI, if you're looking for non-fiction, there's plenty out there about Bush/Cheney and the last Iraq war. There's also some about Reagan and the invasion of Grenada.

Oops, didn't read all the OP. WTG is a black comedy.

Last edited by Boyo Jim; 08-15-2013 at 07:19 AM.
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Old 08-15-2013, 07:20 AM
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FYI, if you're looking for non-fiction, there's plenty out there about Bush/Cheney and the last Iraq war. There's also some about Reagan and the invasion of Grenada.
.
I am not looking for non-fiction. I'd rather the thread not descend into a Bush-bash or Reagan-roast.
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Old 08-15-2013, 07:26 AM
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BORN ON THE FOURTH OF JULY probably counts, since the whole point was to explain why Ron Kovic joined Vietnam Veterans Against The War.
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Old 08-15-2013, 07:50 AM
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I haven't read it, but the Wikipedia plot description of It Can't Happen Here by Sinclair Lewis includes the U.S. turning into a totalitarian state, which eventually leads to an "unjustified invasion of Mexico."

Last edited by wellanuff; 08-15-2013 at 07:51 AM.
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Old 08-15-2013, 07:58 AM
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How about The Last Samurai? While not the villain directly, the US were working with the Japanese emperor Tom Cruise ends up siding against.

Last edited by Sr Siete; 08-15-2013 at 07:58 AM.
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Old 08-15-2013, 08:01 AM
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How about The Last Samurai? While not the villain directly, the US were working with the Japanese emperor Tom Cruise ends up siding against.
Are United States troops actually involved in armed conflict in this story, on the "wrong" side?
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Old 08-15-2013, 08:02 AM
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I don't if it would be right to say America is the villain in John Sayle's Amigo, which is set in the early part of our occupation of the The Philippines. But we're definitely not the good guys, either.
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Old 08-15-2013, 08:03 AM
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I'm not sure this is how imperialism works.
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Old 08-15-2013, 08:06 AM
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And though I'm coming up blank at the moment I'd have to think that there have been many westerns that present the U.S. military as in the wrong during various Indian wars and skirmishes.

Though that would fall to the definition of "international conflict."
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Old 08-15-2013, 08:08 AM
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The movie Syriana might qualify. The US isn't involved in all-out armed conflict, but it is covertly assassinating people and setting off bombs.


Been a while since I saw it, but IIRC...
SPOILER:

They arrange the assassination of a progressive 'Saudi' Prince, to assure his more oppressive brother ascends to the throne, because the evil brother promised the US more oil.
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Old 08-15-2013, 08:12 AM
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Are United States troops actually involved in armed conflict in this story, on the "wrong" side?
As far as I can recall, only the emperor's troops... backed by the US. Tom Cruise's character was training them.
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Old 08-15-2013, 08:18 AM
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Dances with Wolves probably counts depending on whether you consider Indian territory in the 1860s to be "foreign soil".
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Old 08-15-2013, 08:19 AM
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And though I'm coming up blank at the moment I'd have to think that there have been many westerns that present the U.S. military as in the wrong during various Indian wars and skirmishes.

Though that would fall to the definition of "international conflict."
Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee ....
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Old 08-15-2013, 08:52 AM
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Avatar count? All the humans spoke with American accents (or at least I don't recall any who didn't), even Sam Worthington.

Last edited by Bryan Ekers; 08-15-2013 at 08:53 AM.
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Old 08-15-2013, 10:39 AM
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Originally Posted by Skald the Rhymer View Post
Are United States troops actually involved in armed conflict in this story, on the "wrong" side?
No, America sold the emperor his guns and artillery and provided training for the troops.
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Old 08-15-2013, 11:32 AM
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I can think of numerous movies in which the US armed forces and/or top military leaders are presented as evil, but not many in which the evil Americans are at war with other countries.

Among the many movies presenting the US military and top generals as evil

The Siege (Bruce Willis as a power-mad general who wants to put all Arabs in concentration camps)

Seven Days in May (Burt Lancaster as power-mad general who wants to stage a coup d'etat)

Outbreak (Donald Sutherland as power-mad general plotting germ warfare)

The Abyss (power-mad Navy SEALs want to slaughter wonderful, peace-loving aquatic race)

The Iron Giant (mean old US military ganging up on poor, innocent robot)
  #18  
Old 08-15-2013, 12:01 PM
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Fail-Safe might qualify, although the conflict there results from error, not conscious aggression.
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Old 08-15-2013, 12:07 PM
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Going back a bit, the film Gabriel over the White House has a US President turn into a fascist dictator, and eventually use the threat of a superweapon to blackmail the rest of the world into disarming.

Last edited by ElvisL1ves; 08-15-2013 at 12:08 PM.
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Old 08-15-2013, 12:14 PM
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The computer game Fallout 2 takes place after a nuclear war. The ultimate villain of the game is the remnants of the US government, who have a plan to eliminate all the "mutants" (ie, everyone who is not them) in the wastelands.
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Old 08-15-2013, 12:42 PM
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The computer game Fallout 2 takes place after a nuclear war. The ultimate villain of the game is the remnants of the US government, who have a plan to eliminate all the "mutants" (ie, everyone who is not them) in the wastelands.
I think that was Fallout 3.

Fallout 2 was when it was revealed that:

SPOILER:

The US government ran the Vault program as a series of psych experiments.


Mind you, as of Fallout 1 it is apparent from the intro that US isn't the nice guys as they annex Canada forcefully in response to Chinese antics.

Last edited by Marley23; 08-15-2013 at 01:35 PM. Reason: fixed spoiler tag
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Old 08-15-2013, 01:00 PM
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The Showtime series Homeland sort of fits, in a way - though it likes its ambiguity over who the good and bad guys are.
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Old 08-15-2013, 01:34 PM
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I think that was Fallout 3.
It was also the plot of Fallout 3, yes. The second game ends when...

SPOILER:
...you assault the oil rig that serves as the seat of the US government, and kill President Richardson in his office.


They're still around in the second one, except...

SPOILER:
..."President Eden" is really a super computer that took over after Richardson died, and is trying to complete his plan from the previous game.


Also, iirc, the "Vaults as psych experiments" thing came from Fallout 3.
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Old 08-15-2013, 01:43 PM
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Fail-Safe might qualify, although the conflict there results from error, not conscious aggression.
By the same token, Dr. Strangelove, or How I Stopped Worrying and Learned to Love the Excessively-Long Title.

Though there, one could argue that the Russians were also the villains. Not really any heroes in that movie.
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Old 08-15-2013, 02:10 PM
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Canadian Bacon is a comedy, but even though Hacker is kind of the villain, nothing would have happened if the President hadn't tried to cause trouble with Candada.
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Old 08-15-2013, 02:13 PM
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I've never actually seen it, and only know it from plot outlines... but would Birth of a Nation count?
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Old 08-15-2013, 02:18 PM
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Also, iirc, the "Vaults as psych experiments" thing came from Fallout 3.
They were revealed in Fallout 2: that Vault 13 was given faulty chips etc., other had other problems, etc. In Fallout 3 (and Fallout NV) you actually explore several of the Vaults that had those issues.
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Old 08-15-2013, 02:29 PM
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Canadian Bacon is a comedy, but even though Hacker is kind of the villain, nothing would have happened if the President hadn't tried to cause trouble with Candada.
As long as we're discussing lame comedies, Spies Like Us has a power-mad general played by Steve Forrest who wants to nuke the world.
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Old 08-15-2013, 02:32 PM
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Last edited by cmkeller; 08-15-2013 at 02:33 PM. Reason: forgot the OP specified no comedies
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Old 08-15-2013, 02:35 PM
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One movie in which American soldiers are clearly the bad guys in a foreign war: Brian de Palma's Redacted.
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Old 08-15-2013, 02:35 PM
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Does The Quiet American and the book it was based on count?
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Old 08-15-2013, 02:38 PM
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Dances with Wolves probably counts depending on whether you consider Indian territory in the 1860s to be "foreign soil".
I came in to say this.
  #33  
Old 08-15-2013, 02:59 PM
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By the same token, Dr. Strangelove, or How I Stopped Worrying and Learned to Love the Excessively-Long Title.

Though there, one could argue that the Russians were also the villains. Not really any heroes in that movie.
Dr. Strangelove is what I wanted to cite, Chronos, though I would argue that Lionel Mandrake was fairly heroic.
  #34  
Old 08-15-2013, 07:41 PM
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Walker - about William Walker, played by all-American Ed Harris. Walker invaded Mexico essentially a a privateer for American interests. As played by Harris was a screaming nut-job of the first order.

Director Alex Cox did this straight after Repo Man and Sid and Nancy. He's a Pom but the American writer is Rudy Wurlitzer [could only be more American if it was Rudy Kardashian-Wurlitzer III].
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Old 08-15-2013, 08:00 PM
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Also, iirc, the "Vaults as psych experiments" thing came from Fallout 3.
IIRC it was touched on in 2. But the concept way predates 3, and was mainly suggested in non-game canon, like the Fallout Bible.


I think I could, umm.... suggest umm... the Turner Diaries? No, I have not read them. Given the author's POV, the gov't is bad, and objectively they seem so, but not compared to the "hero." Pretty much any dystopian work where the government becomes despotic counts.

Also, Tenacious D - The Government Totally Sucks

Quote:
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Does The Quiet American and the book it was based on count?
The book - Graham Greene was English. The film's director is Australian.
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Old 08-15-2013, 11:02 PM
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Can think of several almost examples.

The most apt of them is Gone With The Wind. The South, having seceded from the union, was technically foreign territory, and you have the United States Union side burning Atlanta and raiding plantations.

Michael Moore's Fahrenheit 911, if documentaries count.

Roots, with America very actively participating in the African slave trade.

Indirectly, the Resident Evil movies. An American saboteur releases a virus that by movie number 3 has spread worldwide.
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Old 08-15-2013, 11:16 PM
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There was a movie about the soldiers who deserted to the Mexican army because of their poor treatment in the American one. I can't remember the name.
  #38  
Old 08-15-2013, 11:37 PM
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I suppose any American-made movie with an anti-Vietnam War message would count.

"Letters from Iwo Jima" is an American WWII movie told from the Japanese perspective. I don't recall it particularly vilifying the US, though as it's told from the Japanese viewpoint the US is obviously the villain.

Phillip Roth's "The Plot Against America" is an alternate history of the US sliding into Fascism.
  #39  
Old 08-16-2013, 02:10 AM
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Wag the Dog is a movie about starting a war for a presidential political reason.
There was no war in Wag the Dog - it was faked. I suppose you could make the case that the U.S. was a pretend villain in a pretend war.
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Old 08-16-2013, 03:41 AM
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There was a movie about the soldiers who deserted to the Mexican army because of their poor treatment in the American one. I can't remember the name.
One Man's Hero, starring Tom Berenger.


Another western, with the U.S. Army as the bad guys, and the Native Americans as good guys: Soldier Blue, starring Candice Bergen and Peter Strauss.

Last edited by mbh; 08-16-2013 at 03:44 AM.
  #41  
Old 08-16-2013, 03:46 AM
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The Wind and the Lion does not have any really good guys, but it does culminate in a U.S. invasion of Morocco.
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Old 08-16-2013, 07:08 AM
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If we're counting books/movies in which the US Army massacred innocent Indians, there's Little Big Man.
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Old 08-16-2013, 07:26 AM
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Walker - about William Walker, played by all-American Ed Harris. Walker invaded Mexico essentially a a privateer for American interests. As played by Harris was a screaming nut-job of the first order.
(bolding mine)
[nitpick] It's Nicaragua, actually[/nitpick]
  #44  
Old 08-16-2013, 08:27 AM
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How about the Wool series, by Hugh Howie? Post Apocalyptic-

SPOILER:
And it turns out the US intentionally engineered the catastrophe
  #45  
Old 08-16-2013, 08:55 AM
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It's been a while since I saw it, but it's my memory that Three Kings is somewhat like this. At least, the more the central characters shift from their initial amorality towards being morally responsible actors, the more they find themselves on the wrong side of those in a position of authority, including their own hierarchy.
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Old 08-16-2013, 09:17 AM
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Does The Quiet American and the book it was based on count?
Certainly not the book — it was written by Graham Greene, a Brit.

ETA: Ninja'd! I'll add a factoid, then. There have actually been two Hollywood adaptations of the book in all. In the original adaptation, which Graham Greene disavowed, the American is in the right and the British journalist is the villain!
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Last edited by straight man; 08-16-2013 at 09:20 AM.
  #47  
Old 08-16-2013, 09:31 AM
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"Letters from Iwo Jima" is an American WWII movie told from the Japanese perspective. I don't recall it particularly vilifying the US, though as it's told from the Japanese viewpoint the US is obviously the villain.
I'd say the US is more like some ominous force of nature in that movie, not really a villain per-se.
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Old 08-16-2013, 11:02 AM
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Can think of several almost examples.

The most apt of them is Gone With The Wind. The South, having seceded from the union, was technically foreign territory, and you have the United States Union side burning Atlanta and raiding plantations.
That occurred to me this morning, away from the board. There have got to be plenty of examples set in the Civil War.

Maybe The General by Buster Keaton?

Maybe The Outlaw Josie Wales?
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Old 08-16-2013, 12:12 PM
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Have not been able to recall enough to Google effectively, but there was an old SF short story in which there's some sort of US and Soviet nuclear exchange. A space platform of orbital missiles sends out the message that its missiles will NOT be fired at earth, because someone has to survive, and they would rather lose the war than destroy earth entirely. The big reveal is that the message is Soviet -- they prove willing to take on for the team when the US doesn't.
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Old 08-16-2013, 02:21 PM
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Originally Posted by Aspidistra View Post
It's been a while since I saw it, but it's my memory that Three Kings is somewhat like this. At least, the more the central characters shift from their initial amorality towards being morally responsible actors, the more they find themselves on the wrong side of those in a position of authority, including their own hierarchy.
I wouldn't say the Americans are villainous in the movie, just varying degrees of cynical or misguided. Outside of the question of the morality of the war itself, individual Americans are never shown committing any overtly immoral acts, aside from stealing the gold. And even that was gold that was taken from billionaire Kuwaiti plutocrats, so it's not exactly like they're taking bread out of anyone's mouths.
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