Thursday, March 20, 2014

More on Army uniform regs...

I wasn't going to write another post for this blog today, but decided to when an Italian friend of mine asked why Hollywood is allowed to have actors portraying servicemembers if it's against the law for non-servicemembers to wear uniforms.  I guess I could have written this tomorrow, but I find that as I age, my mind is more like Swiss cheese and if I don't strike while the iron is hot, I'll forget.  This is an interesting topic, so I figured it was best to go ahead and put this out there for the masses.

Like many people, I was under the impression that Hollywood isn't allowed to depict servicemembers with their uniforms exactly right.  My very own Army vet Bill told me that it implied that the government endorsed the film.  I said as much on my Facebook post about those guys who called out the Army faker…  If you'll recall, I posted about that here, too.

Anyway, someone wrote that they were sure Hollywood was allowed to show actors portraying servicemembers in uniform.  I was curious, so I went searching for the answer.  Are Hollywood actors allowed to wear uniforms depicting themselves as members of a service branch?  The answer is yes.  This is the code I found.

10 U.S. Code § 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.

So basically, yes, actors are allowed to wear the uniform.  In fact, in 1970, the Supreme Court even ruled that the bit about not discrediting the armed forces is unconstitutional because it infringes on freedom of expression.    

However, though they ARE allowed to wear the uniform "properly", Hollywood actors very rarely get it right.  And it seems they don't get it right because their costumers have never worn a uniform and don't do their research.  And they don't hire Dale Dye, who has made a career out of being a military adviser in Hollywood and won't allow any project he's involved in to get the uniforms wrong.

The whole "Hollywood can't use real uniforms because it's illegal" bit is an urban legend.  Still, I have seen Bill's reactions to the poor uniform portrayals on TV and in the movies enough to know that Hollywood folks need to get their shit together.  A lot of times, the costumers choose a uniform because they like the way it looks rather than its authenticity.  Or they just don't have the insight as to how the uniform and insignia should be worn.  They also don't know the protocols and rules regarding uniforms because they don't have the experience.

So I learned something new and hopefully you did, too.  Still, that idiot posing as a Ranger was wrong to impersonate a soldier, especially since he clearly isn't an actor.  He should have gotten in trouble as much as the actual veterans did.


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