War heroes, American media, Digital video, Hero industry, Pacification

Document Type

Research Paper


In Ben Fountain’s 2012 novel, Billy Lynn’s Long Half­time Walk, the titular US soldier and the Bravo squad become canonized Iraq War heroes when their rescue attempt is captured on digital video. In recognition of their bravery, their tour of duty is halted for an American media stint that culminates in their participation during the 2004 Dallas Cowboys Thanksgiving halftime show. This celebratory return allows the proud American public to interact with the heroes from the video, subsumed, however they may be, by the militarized media spectacle and abstracted into icons of precious, simplified mean­ing. Commodities like War Hero Billy Lynn are a neces­sary product when images of postmodern warfare do not bring a nation’s culture any grounding, pacifying sense of meaning. Better than a mere screen, Billy is alive; he can be touched. Endowed with the experiential knowledge of soldier subjectivity, he becomes a ready vessel brought close for an American public to inhabit . . .




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