Baseball Crank
Covering the Front and Back Pages of the Newspaper
February 2, 2005
POP CULTURE: The 13-Year Korean War

Jane Galt, noting the latest horrors in North Korea, asks:

I was an enormous fan of M*A*S*H when it was first on the air, though I was far too young to grasp the political implications (I think I was nine when the series ended.) Now, of course, I realise that it was a thinly veiled metaphor for the Vietnam war: American boys and innocent asians being killed by a bunch of power-mad brass waging war for the fun of it.

I often wonder if Alan Alda--or any of the other producers, directors, writers or actors of either the movie or the television series--ever looks at the news coming out of North Korea and thinks "Yeah, I guess maybe we were wrong about that." I doubt it, though.

I suspect not; I doubt that Alda ever seriously believed that the show was really about Korea rather than Vietnam, and if asked they probably would have said something about how it didn't matter much to the men who were fighting the war . . . I suspect that, in the end, it wasn't just Alda, it was the audience; I don't think M*A*S*H did much one way or the other to affect Americans' views of the Korean War. M*A*S*H was as much about Korea, really, as Beetle Bailey is about the modern Army.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 6:56 AM | Pop Culture | Comments (2) | TrackBack (0)
Comments

M*A*S*H the movie was more of a generic comedy, based on experience in Korea. The TV show was more political. Everyone knew that it was about Vietnam and finding humor in this waste of young lives and limbs in a war that hardly any Americans, except the leaders, wanted to be part of. I and just about all people I knew loved both the movie and TV show, but saw them as different. It was believed that the TV show was set in Korea so as not to offend the censors. In fact, I think both the movie and the TV show were filmed in California.

Posted by: jim linnane at February 2, 2005 5:04 PM

I always found the movie to be the more "political" of the two. A show about a specific political viewpoint would have been pretty short-lived. However MASH kept going on and on, and was very successful. Not because it was an overt commentary on the Vietnam War, but because it was a very well written and produced show.

Posted by: SSG B at February 3, 2005 11:02 PM
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