10 November 2012 | StevePulaski
Dick wipes the fog off another institution
I am writing this review two days before Veteran's Day on purpose, not out of sheer, fortunate coincidence. When president Dwight Eisenhower declared November 11th a day of remembrance and observation for current war veterans and those who have died in combat, I highly doubt he knew that one day, there would be surrounding controversy that female members of the military were facing rape and sexual assault cases, and little was being done to punish those involved. Speaking as someone who loves the country he's been fortunate to be born into and someone who continuously supports, gives credit to, and thanks veterans for their service, this is an appalling and sickening feat that almost taints the entire military system as a whole.
Kirby Dick's The Invisible War is a film that will have an unprecedented impact on many of its viewers. Some of its viewers, hopefully young women contemplating serving in a specific branch, may second-guess their decision to join. Statistics show that 20% of women in the military have been raped, the second they are part of the military, their chances of rape increases by two, and the most terrifying statistic of all; 15% of recruits entering the military have raped someone before.
We meet several women raped under many different circumstances, who have served in the U.S. Coast Guard, the Navy, and even the Marines, yet can not escape the frighteningly real numbers. The main woman we follow throughout the film is Kori Cioca, a young member U.S. Coast Guard, who was brutally raped shortly after joining the military branch, and during the rape, she was slapped so hard on the left side of her face that it dislocated plates in her jaw, resulting in her only consuming soft foods and bearing only warm weather. Her struggle, now, is number one, receiving compensation and money from the VA, which is turning their back on her because her deployment was too brief to qualify for money or treatment, and number two, trusting males again (when we see her with her loving and devoted husband we see how nervous, unsettled, and provoked she feels with him in the room).
Aside from hearing cases and a number of devastating rape stories from women, Dick interviews lawyers who have worked on military rape cases and talks to a number of authors on the subject. One even states how that the punishment for rape is so lenient and miniscule that a person who has done drugs and is caught can be suspended for years, but a person who has raped another individual can be suspended for just a few weeks.
And if you believe this is a problem reserved for women then think again; 10% of men in the military are raped and we aren't deprived of hearing their shocking stories as well. One man who was a victim to the heinous crime states that it's a byproduct of the military's almost inherent homophobia, the outdated feeling of "the macho man," and the idea of power through narcissism. When will we, as a nation, overcome those three depressing qualities? It's hard to call The Invisible War "enjoyable" in the usual documentary-sense. It's one of the most impacting films of the year, and should be required classroom viewing at that. Director Kirby Dick is known for exploring institutions that are surrounded by grayness, such as the Catholic Church in Twist of Faith and the biased, inconsistent MPAA in This Film is Not Yet Rated. Unlike in those films, Dick remains silent, letting the larger stories speak first and him not giving his usual goofy spin on things. Considering how highly we praise and cherish our military, having this film come out, exposing the misogyny and disrespect to women in the male-dominated military, is a kick to the groin. Or possible a Miss Representation. As a viewer, you can decide.
Directed by: Kirby Dick.