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Military enjoying elevated status--in life and on film

December 17, 2001

Perceptions of the military seem to be changing since Sept. 11, among faculty members as well as the general public.

"I've noticed some change in faculty attitudes since Sept. 11," says Dr. Allene Phy-Olsen, professor of English and coordinator of the Honors Program at Austin Peay.

"Even in this military community it was fashionable on campus for some to view our armed services as legal assassins in training. Now more people are seeing our military as brave men and women willing to risk their lives to defend us and the freedoms we enjoy."

Not surprisingly, filmmakers have been quick to mirror the change. "Hollywood is rarely a moral leader but quickly picks up on current fads and attitudes," says Phy-Olsen. "Remember how politically correct the recent movie about Pearl Harbor was?"

Still, she says, it will be difficult for the movie industry to compete with those who are locked in to television news reports. "It will be hard for Hollywood, for all its resources and glamorous performers, to compete with what we see around the clock on CNN and FOX.

"Can Tom Hanks fight this war more impressively than Geraldo Rivera?"

Phy-Olsen teaches courses in languages and literature. Her major research interests are American popular culture, 20th century perspective and analysis and world literature.