Main Artistic License Military Discussion

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06:08:19 AM Jun 11th 2015
edited by Arivne
Discarded the following Natter from the Rocky and Bullwinkle example.

  • That was actually done in 1978, well after the episode aired for the first time. There had been two separate proposals for Douglas MacArthur to be elevated to the rank of six-star general once near the end of World War II for his proposed role as Supreme Commander of the multinational invasion of Japan (where he would explicitly command several five-star generals from the various countries' armies), and once again by his supporters in The '50s to honor his military service (he declined it, since it would potentially affect his retirement benefits and would require his superior General George Marshall to be promoted as well)."
05:03:41 AM Jun 11th 2015
Deleted the following from Live-Action TV. The Natter is correct, which makes the original example incorrect.

  • The titular Major Dad never transfers (although its a plot point in at least one episode, but he ends up staying) throughout the show's run. A Marine major would probably transfer every two to three years.
    • In Season One Major Mac Gillis is running an infantry training school at Camp Singleton, then in the second season he moves with his family to Camp Hollister and becomes a staff officer to a crazy general. Fairly accurate depiction of military life, I would say.
06:06:38 PM Oct 26th 2013

  • Star Wars often conflates Army, Navy, and Air Force rankings, particularly in the Expanded Universe. For example, General Dodonna, the guy who gives the briefing in episode 4, had his rank despite there being almost no ground troops and very few capital ships available to the Rebellion at the time. Wedge Antilles, in the Expanded Universe, eventually becomes a general in starfighter command—only to end up in charge of a ship of the same class as Executor and its attendant task force. Han Solo is a general in command of ground forces and Lando Calrissian of the fighter group in Return of the Jedi, but Solo leads fleet actions in the EU. Finally, Garm Bel Iblis is a general but is always in command of a full task force.
    • Also, in modern Earth terminology, a cruiser is a bigger ship than a destroyer. In Star Wars, Star Destroyers are amongst the biggest class of ships out there in common use. Furthermore, there were Dreadnaught-class heavy cruisers that were less than half the size of the Star Destroyers, and then the Super Star Destroyers are star dreadnoughts. Eventually the Star Wars RPG Saga Edition Starships of the Galaxy book clarified things by stating that the term "Star Destroyer" is not a class of ship the way star cruiser and star dreadnought is, referring more to a construction philosophy of overwhelming firepower mounted in one direction, which allows them to destroy (or more accurately, depopulate) entire star systems. The Imperial-Class Star Destroyers we see in the film are stated to be star cruisers.
      • If Star Wars had actually been set in the future (instead of it all being a translation convention) that might be excusable though. Destroyers are the biggest ships in most fleets today and as such rapidly getting bigger. Cruisers have always been the smaller cousins of battleships, traditionally the biggest ships in the fleet, so it's not that far fetched to have destroyers and cruisers switch places in the future. Plus "destroyer" is just an awesome name.
      • In Storm Over Ryloth, the terms "battlecruisers", "cruisers", and "frigates" are used to describe the same ships.
      • In any case, in Real Life the relations between ship types of any given name are always changing. At one point in the Cold War, this caused confusion because the US Navy had a large force of Frigates, while the Soviets had a fleet of Cruisers, leading to concerns of the so-called Cruiser Gap. The solution? Reclassify the Frigates as Cruisers, as they were equivalent in size and capability anyways. In the age of sail, frigates served a role similar to what cruisers and desteroyers would in later centuries, patrolling and screening for the main force, at least until the destroyers became the main force, secondary only to the Aircraft Carriers.
    • It's often stated that, as the Rebellion, the Rebels used whatever rank worked best with individual officers, since they weren't anything like a formal military yet. Thus General Dodonna, who at the time was the only force commander they had (and probably earned his generalship in the Clone Wars, to boot). Others progress through the ranks more or less naturally (like Wedge) but are assigned whatever their mission needs—Wedge once held command over two squadrons and a corvette while still a Commander, for perfectly logical though informal reasons.
      • Dodonna was established as earning his rank in the Empire's service, doing so good a job the Emperor gave him a habitable moon as his retirement pension.
    • The general consensus for the writers, with a couple of exceptions, is that Admirals (a fleet rank) are usually in charge of large Cruisers, Star Destroyers, or task forces. The rank of General is used by ground forces, Starfighter Command, and the Intelligence division. Han, Lando, and Luke (just barely) were made "generals" before the Rebellion had become the New Republic and things were a lot more, to quote one character, "piratical". Wedge is apparently continuously given Fleet Command assignments because General Cracken (head of intelligence) actively wants him to transfer to either the main fleet or intelligence.
    • Applying United States/Commonwealth ranks to a fictional civilization in a galaxy with no connection to Earth may be a bit flawed in its premise, but we can certainly argue that Translation Convention is in effect. On the other hand, if that's the case, translating terms directly in a way that does not correspond to real rank/class makes little sense.

It's a fictional military in a fictional world.
06:44:54 PM Oct 20th 2012
I think Drill Sergeant McNasty should be added here as many writers who take their military knowledge from other movies assume all NC Os of sergeant rank and above are R. Lee Ermy, where for the most part the DSMN would get in alot of trouble for forcing someone to exercise as a punishment.
08:33:28 AM Sep 30th 2012
In Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol, during the Kremlin scene, most characters are shown with hats on, and saluting indoors. Is this protocol for Russia?
12:37:19 PM Nov 13th 2010
In movie Pearl Harbor the USAAF pilots flying B25s wore DUI on their shoulders that was circular blue with 3 yellow swirl like devices. Can anyone I'D this patch? Ben
10:29:23 AM Oct 31st 2011
Original YKKTTW is HERE.
07:31:31 AM Jul 8th 2010
Uniforms in films are not allowed to be identical to their real life counterparts. I've noticed that several entries on here nitpick at some small part of a character's uniform. Not counting blatant mistakes (incorrect rank insignia, wrong branch of service), those shouldn't be examples. You'll find that any current military uniform depicted in film (at least in the U.S.) is going to have at least some minor alteration. This is because in the U.S. it's illegal for civilians to wear a uniform that he/she hasn't earned. The most common alteration is the removal of service stripes (depicting years in service), to make the uniform "close enough" but not completely accurate. "Uniform" versus "Costume".
09:10:49 AM Jul 8th 2010
Not trying to be argumentative, just genuinely curious, but do you have a cite for that? I've heard that before, but also heard that it's either urban-legendy, outdated, or just a mistaken reading of the law against *genuinely* impersonating an officer - i.e., not as a character in a movie, but in real life, for some nefarious purpose.
07:17:35 AM Jul 12th 2010
On further research, it seems that actors are allowed to wear the uniform provided that it doesn't "discredit" the armed forces:

United States Code Title 10 > Subtitle A > Part II > Chapter 45

772. When wearing by persons not on active duty authorized

(f) While portraying a member of the Army, Navy, Air Force, or Marine Corps, an actor in a theatrical or motion-picture production may wear the uniform of that armed force if the portrayal does not tend to discredit that armed force.

I would guess that they sometimes make deliberate alterations in order to avoid the whole thing entirely. A friend of mine in the military pointed out how the most common change is removing the bars worn on the sleeves that show years of service. On the other hand, maybe costumers sometimes believe that it's illegal to make an exact reproduction, so they make alterations.
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