I highlighted Frank McGee in the grave series yesterday. In it, I mentioned his Vietnam War reporting Same Mud Same Blood, about race relations in the Army in Vietnam. So I decided to watch it.
On the subject matter that it intended to show, it’s pretty terrible. It’s clearly there to assuage whites. Yes, it focuses on a couple of Black platoon leaders. And it shows white soldiers under their command sharing a canteen. But at about 30 minutes into the film, it moves from not that interesting about race to being outright problematic, making sure to quote the two platoon leaders about how bad Stokely Carmichael and Black Power were and how the race riots in the U.S. in the late 60s were anti-American. There was no reason for McGee to go down this road. It really undermines the entire project.
What salvages it is the quite intense footage of fighting. McGee and the cameraman were embedded and they were right there working during the fights. You see dead bodies. You see firefights. It’s quite good for that.
But as a documentary about race, it’s pretty disastrous.