Sony Pixel Power calrec Sony

Journalist Brian Raftery Dissects Vietnam War Films-and America's Love for Them-in His Podcast From The Ringer, Do We Get To Win This Time?'


Hollywood has long held a fascination with the Vietnam War. From films that were released while the war raged, like John Wayne's The Green Berets, to the popular 1980s hits, like Oliver Stone's Platoon, America's role in the war has been documented-accurately or not-on the big screen for decades.

Growing up in the 1980s, Brian Raftery encountered these combat films left and right, bringing Vietnam to life right before his eyes. Fast-forward to today, and Brian's ready to take a deeper look into these films and how they still resonate today, both culturally and politically.

Photo credit Tom Martin

In his new podcast from The Ringer, Do We Get To Win This Time? How Hollywood Made the Vietnam War, Brian chronicles and dissects some of the most seminal movies that reflect the war. Throughout the eight-episode season, Brian talks with filmmakers, experts, and veterans who discuss what these movies tell us about the most divisive conflict in our country's history and America's perception of it.

For the Record caught up with Brian to learn more.

What made you want to cover the Vietnam War-and how Hollywood approached it-specifically? I didn't grow up under the shadow of Vietnam-I was born after the war-but I did grow up under the shadow of Vietnam movies. When I was a kid, it seemed like every other weekend saw the release of an intense R-rated film about the war, like Platoon and Full Metal Jacket. And even as a preteen, I'd heard of some of the major Vietnam movies of the seventies, like Apocalypse Now and The Deer Hunter. Vietnam was, strangely, a major part of popular culture back then.

I watched as many of these films as I could-and I devoured the countless Vietnam-related TV shows, books, and even comic books that arrived in the eighties and early nineties. And I wasn't alone: These were huge movies, especially for Gen-Xers. We were being inundated with stories about a war we hadn't witnessed-and that we barely understood.

For the podcast, I wanted to learn as much as I could about the making of these films, because, frankly, we don't get many like 'em anymore: These are epic, highly ambitious combat films, all of them made before the CGI era, and the stories behind these productions are amazing. But I was also interested in how Hollywood's depiction of Vietnam changed over the years, and how it reflected how America felt about a very controversial and disturbing war. This was a war that deeply divided the country, and sometimes one of the best ways to understand a moment in time is to look at the movies it inspired.

Why do you think Hollywood's fascination with the Vietnam War was different from other major historical events? Vietnam wasn't like World War II. That conflict, as horrific as it was, had a definite ending-and a victorious one, at least for America. As a result, some of the movies Hollywood made about World War II in the forties and fifties were celebratory and deeply jingoistic. Not that I mind-I love a good rah-rah moment as much as anyone-but these were movies made at a time of peak national pride, and they could be a bit bloodless, literally and figuratively.

By contrast, Hollywood had no idea what to do with Vietnam at first. This was a divisive war-and the big studios don't do divisive. So they spent years avoiding it, until the late seventies, when it became clear that some veterans were struggling to deal with the aftermath of the war, resulting in movies like Coming Home and The Deer Hunter. By the eighties, there was even greater recognition of what America's vets had gone through. That helps explain how a movie like Platoon can become such a phenomenon. Don't get me wrong-it's a great film, no matter when you see it! But Platoon happened to come at the exact moment that millions of Americans-young and old-were trying to understand what had happened in Vietnam.

As a result, Platoon kicked off a wave of Vietnam films, one that would peak in the late eighties. I can't even count how many Vietnam films were made during that time. But after the Vietnam wave ended in the nineties, moviegoers would soon lose their interest in war altogether: The conflicts of the last few decades-most notably Iraq and Afghanistan-haven't produced anywhere near as many films as Vietnam did. It was the last war Hollywood re-created in a major way.

How do you think these films shaped the view Americans had of the war? I can only speak for myself-and a lot of the people I knew!-but I think movies like Coming Home and Born on the Fourth of July had a huge impact on how young people in the eighties and the nineties perceived Vietnam vets. How could you not have empathy for what they'd gone through, during and after the war, after seeing the struggle depicted in those films?

And I think ground-level movies like Platoon and Hamburger Hill really opened young Americans' eyes to the horrors of combat. Those movies didn't make fighting look glamorous in any way. They were gory and terrifying and heartbreaking; they were horror movies, in their own way. I think they made moviegoers understand what happened to those who'd gone to Vietnam.

What movie did you find particularly compelling and knew it had to be covered for the podcast? We have entire episodes dedicated to both Platoon and Apocalypse Now, which are probably the two best-known Vietnam films ever made. There's no way you can ignore Platoon-it brought the war to vivid life for millions of moviegoers, and it kicked off an entire movement of Vietnam films. And Apocalypse Now might be the most over-the-top movie production in history: An Oscar-winning superstar director goes into the jungle with millions of dollars and some of the biggest stars of the world . . . and winds up in a swirl of chaos, egos, and explosions. How can yo
See more stories from spotify

More from Spotify


Content Creator Sebastien Andrade Reveals How You Can Get Three Free Months of Spotify Premium

With more than 10 million followers on TikTok and many more across platforms lik...


Artistas RADAR colombianos presentan nuevas colaboraciones con el reconocido productor Ovy On The Drums

RADAR, el destacado programa de Spotify, se ha consolidado como una plataforma c...


2023 RADAR Colombia Artists Release Spotify Singles in Collaboration with Renowned Producer Ovy On The Drums

Without a doubt, RADAR has become a home for new music. The Spotify program, whi...


Michelin Star Chef Mory Sacko Serves Up His Thoughts on Food and Music for Spotify Supper

Is there anything more comforting than good food, good music, and good company? ...


Our 2023 Gift Guide Is Here To Make Holiday Shopping a Breeze

December is fast approaching, and along with listening to your favorite Spotify Holiday Singles, it's time to start shopping for gifts. With Spotify, liste...


Usher in Pakistan's Wedding Season With Our Special Shaadi Hub

In Pakistan, the shaadi (Urdu for wedding) is a rite of passage that's often stretched out over multiple days with ceremonies, parties, and gatherings marki...


Ultimate Passenger Princess Antoni Bumba Shares Her Top Tips for Listening in the Car

Drivers in the U.S. spend an average of 60 minutes per day behind the wheel. So ...


How Fans Are Inspiring the New Global Growth of Thai Pop and Boys' Love

Thai music and culture have been making serious waves across the globe as of late. And they're gaining momentum in large part thanks to a fandom-fueled subg...


Olivia Rodrigo Shares the Story Behind Her Original Song for the New Hunger Games' Movie

Since the novel Hunger Games first landed on bookshelves in 2008, Suzanne Collin...


Rene Rapp Shares the Songs and Artists She'll Jam to This Friendsgiving

Rene Rapp, fresh off the stateside portion of her sold-out Snow Hard Feelings tour, has just released the deluxe version of her debut album Snow Angel. In the ...


GLOW Artist LIE NING Finds Power in Life, Hope, and Radical Love

LIE NING has quickly risen in the German music scene as an artist devoted to exploring the realm of the human experience, all with a sound that shifts between R...


Interior Design Expert Bobby Berk Shares Top Tips for Making Your Living Room an Audio Oasis

As the weather outside becomes more frightful, it's time to make your living...


Get Ready for the Green Screen Video Series, a New Type of Performance From Spotify

We've always loved seeing an artist's vision come to life in their music...


You Can Now Easily Save Songs to Spotify From TikTok With a Simple Tap

At Spotify, we aim to meet our listeners where they scroll. And for some of our users, that's on TikTok. We want it to be as easy as possible to capture tho...


Akshat Harbola, Spotify's MENA Managing Director, on the Creative Vibrancy of the Region

Akshat Harbola, Spotify's Managing Director of Middle East, North Africa (ME...


Get Merry With New Spotify Holiday Singles From Laufey, Kirk Franklin, Ezra Collective, and Panter Blico

As the year draws to a close, you might be excitedly getting ready for the holid...


Social Media Star and Car Enthusiast Daniel Mac Shares His Latest Spotify Finds

When it comes to the most-loved features on Spotify, personalization tops many users' lists. Through Spotify playlists like Discover Weekly and daylist, edi...


20 African Artists Spotlighted by FC Barcelona You Should Know

Through our first-of-its-kind partnership with FC Barcelona, we've brought the worlds of music and sport together for fans around the globe to enjoy. Whethe...


Podcasters Can Better Connect to Their Audiences With the Insights From Our Latest Fan Study

We know that podcasters of all sizes want to share their stories with the world,...


Find Your Favorite Audio More Easily With the Redesigned Spotify on TV Experience

Looking for a Spotify experience from the big screen? Whether you're enterta...


Author Min Jin Lee Reveals the Unique Quality That Make Audiobooks So Powerful

As one of the preeminent storytellers of our era, author Min Jin Lee has captivated fans with her international best-sellers, Pachinko and Free Food for Million...


200,000+ Audiobooks Are Now Available to Spotify Premium Listeners in the U.S.

Audiobook lovers across the U.S., rejoice! As of today, Spotify Premium users in the U.S. join those in the U.K. and Australia as we make over 200,000 audiobook...


Lilly Singh Talks Audiobooks, Favorite Reads, and Lilly's Library

From viral sketch videos to late-night television, Lilly Singh is used to making people laugh. The Canadian entertainer, writer, and advocate has made her mark ...


Zior Park Brings Us Into His Universe as the Next RADAR Korea Artist

Known just as much for his visually stunning and artistic music videos as he is for his music, Zior Park is unquestionably one of the most diverse and innovativ...


Criadores e fs comemoram seus programas preferidos no Festival de Podcasts do Spotify em So Paulo.

Neste fim de semana, grandes nomes da podosfera brasileira ir o se reunir para c...


Creators and Fans Celebrate Their Favorite Shows at the Spotify Podcast Festival in So Paulo

This weekend, creators are heading to S o Paulo to celebrate storytelling at the...


Spotify Pakistan Celebrates Its First Album Launch With Talal Qureshi's Turbo'

When it comes to amplifying artists, Spotify goes all the way. This commitment w...


Exclusive Artist Merch Drops for Spotify's Capsule Collection

From band tees to vinyl sleeves, music and merch go hand in hand. We've seen that when an artist drops some merch, fans flock to their Spotify pages to grab...


Coach Sydney Carter Breaks Down Her Biggest Style Inspirations, the Joys of Owning a Dog, and the Importance of Being Yourself

When it comes to the most-loved features on Spotify, personalization tops many u...


At SXSW Sydney, RADAR, EQUAL, and K-Music Take Over Spotify House

For the first time in its history, Austin's iconic South By Southwest (SXSW) festival expanded beyond its Texas watering hole and traveled all the way to Au...


Fuego's New Haunted Playlist Turns Music Listening Into a One-of-a-Kind Game

Halloween is just around the corner and we're getting into the spirit with Fuego's Haunted Playlist. This unique on-platform experience turns your liste...


Nominees for Music Moves Europe Awards' Showcase a Diverse, Talented Mix of Artists

Each year, the Music Moves Europe (MME) Awards celebrate the best and the bright...


4 Reasons Why You Should Keep Your Spotify App Up-to-Date

We've all been there before. You download an app, use it daily, but never think to check if it needs to be updated. Maybe you hear buzzing from those around...


Spotify Reports Third Quarter 2023 Earnings

Today, we announced our third quarter 2023 performance. The business delivered strong results in Q3 as all of our key indicators exceeded guidance and we return...


Spotify rapporterar intkter fr tredje kvartalet 2023

Idag tillk nnagav vi v rt finansiella resultat f r tredje kvartalet 2023. Verksamheten levererade starka resultat under tredje kvartalet. Samtliga nyckeltal ve...


South African GLOW Artist Mx Blouse Proudly Combines Hip-Hop Beats With Dance, Kwaito, and Queer Themes

Johannesburg-based creative Sandi has been a writer ever since they could rememb...


Spotify and COLORSxSTUDIOS Spotlight African R&B Talent

Sub-Saharan Africa is a hotbed of musical talent, especially when it comes to R&B. Our flagship playlist Tantalizers already highlights some of the smoothest ac...


John Mulaney Slows It Down and Soaks in the Laughs Coming off of Baby J'

John Mulaney had only been working in comedy for five years when he landed a role as a writer at Saturday Night Live in 2008. Hilariously, I felt seasoned when...


Spotify Is Putting the Spotlight on Afrobeats to Chart Its Global Rise

With more than 15 billion streams (and counting), there's no doubt that Afrobeats as a genre is making an impact across the globe. Artists like Shallipopi, ...


Spotify and FC Barcelona Team Up With The Rolling Stones on a Special El Clsico Shirt, Merchandise Collection, and Matchday Playlist

Whether it's fans singing in unison, a player listening to a track to energi...


How Spotify Uses Design To Make Personalization Features Delightful

Every day, teams across Spotify leverage AI and machine learning to apply our personalization capabilities on a large scale, leading to the features, playlists,...


Spotify's Interactive Experiences Create the Magic of Wrapped Year-Round

Spotify users start chattering on social media about Spotify Wrapped months before the experience is unveiled. The data dive turned cultural phenomenon, in whic...


Spotify Extends Existing Partnership With UNICEF and Donates to UNICEF's Global Emergency Fund

Spotify is deeply saddened by the recent terrorist attacks in Israel and trouble...


New Spotify Original Podcast What Now? with Trevor Noah' Set to Launch November 9

Since announcing a new Spotify Original Podcast with Trevor Noah back in June, f...


A Peek at Our New Video Podcast, Hits the Spot'

Every day, we share Spotify's story across a variety of channels. Whether you prefer to hear about the company's latest business developments audibly on...


Gamers in Saudi Arabia Press Play on Bringing Esports and Music Together

The thrill of victory. Anticipating the unexpected. Mastering a new skill. These are just some of the things that make gaming a thrilling hobby for people aroun...


Why Following FC Barcelona Is a Game of Its Own

Since 2022, our partnership with FC Barcelona has spanned playlists and football pitches alike. And helping fans connect with their favorite artists and players...


Our New Playlist juniper Cultivates a Space for the Next Generation of Folk Music

In every generation, folk music captures the hearts, minds, and souls of its lis...


How Spotify Island Is Leveling Up by Gamifying Sound

-- -- Last year, Spotify became the first music streaming brand to have a presence on Roblox with the launch of Spotify Island, an otherworldly digital desti...


Celebra este Da de Muertos en Spotify creando una Fusin con los inmortales de la Msica Mexicana

Con el D a de Muertos a la vuelta de la esquina, Spotify recurre al poder de la ...