Intercutting archives with interviews, Sir! No Sir! lets the heroes who stopped the war in Southeast Asia tell their stories. So who were these antiwar radicals? The far-out, far-left, drugged-up hippie scum of right-wing myth, spitting on returning GIs and wiping their hairy asses on the flag? Nah.
Turns out the folks who really stopped the war were the soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines America sent to fight it.
By the early 1970s the U.S. Armed Forces had disintegrated as an effective fighting force-at least in part because thousands of GIs said, "Fuck it." (More than half a million military personnel went AWOL during the course of the war.)
Sickened by the civilian massacres and spurred on by the example set by the civil rights movement, America's massive conscript Army seethed with discontent. They set up more than 300 antiwar zines and ran anti-Army cafes. A female Navy nurse, inspired by footage of B-52s dropping U.S. propaganda leaflets in Vietnam, loaded up a private plane and dropped antiwar propaganda on military bases in San Francisco.
Meanwhile the likes of Jane Fonda and Donald Sutherland organized "Fuck the Army" anti-USO shows to packed and cheering audiences outside U.S. bases worldwide.
The military responded with predictable, clumsy savagery. And the movement grew and grew-spreading all over the U.S. militarized world.
At first the viewer of Sir! No Sir! is stunned by the sheer balls of these boys-barely adults-but it's their sense of outraged morality that really impresses. They had truth, justice and righteousness on their side, but also a ferocious courage. They needed it. They were imprisoned, viciously beaten, smeared and in at least one case driven into mental illness. Many of the survivors are in shock by the end of their interviews-did we really, actually do that?
As news of more civilian massacres leaks from yet another futile and unnecessary war, Sir! No Sir! couldn't be more relevant. This film should be mandatory viewing for all American children before they're allowed anywhere near a military recruiter.