The use of popular music in post-Vietnam Hollywood war films has varied depending on the war being depicted. Swing, the popular music of World War II, goes almost entirely unrepresented in films depicting that war. Films about Vietnam have exploited the rich resource of popular music from the 1960s to characterize significant racial and class differences among American soldiers, typically pitting black Motown and soul music against white country music. Draft scripts for Apocalypse Now reveal how that film might have used late 1960s rock to emphasize the pathological nature of the American effort in Vietnam. Popular music in films about the all-volunteer, post-hip hop military suggest that racial tensions have abated, with a racial mix of soldiers enjoying a variety of musics. Films about twenty-first-century soldiers have almost no popular music, eliding well-documented practices of contemporary soldiers and denying civilian audiences potential points of connection by way of popular culture.
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