Has anyone else picked up on how every movie portrayal of Special Operations personnel that they always got our guys wearing a kafiya? You know those local neck scarves that they sell in the souk but people don’t actually wear that often in the Middle East? The look has become so ubiquitous that I’ve even seen hipsters in Brooklyn wearing the classic black and white checkered kafiya made famous by Yasser Arafat, not that any of these kids would know who that is.
I’m not sure why Hollywood producers think we all wear kafiyas when we get overseas. As if we are weighed down in all our go-to-war gear but then for a splash of indigenous culture we rock a kafiya around our neck. One of the funnier instances of mandatory operator kafiya was in the recent Netflix film called Spectral. It was a good movie, but the Delta Force team in it is conducting operations in Eastern Europe and yet several of them are still sporting their kafiyas.
Delta gonna run some barely legal ops south of the border? Don’t worry bro, mandatory operator kafiya has got your back. In Sicario a number of Delta operators are wearing kafiyas while on a mission in Mexico. Why exactly? We don’t know.
The mandatory operator kafiya is an aspect of local culture that some soldiers adopted for themselves, using it out of necessity to cover their face during a sandstorm or simply to wipe sweat off their forehead. Hollywood then took it as some kind of military fashion statement, which the public then sees as the cool new thing. I wrote about this phenomena before, how hipsters hijacked the operator beard. Good lord, you would not believe the foaming at the mouth rabid anger that article stirs up inside the tormented souls of so many people on the internets.
But the mandatory operator beard and kafiya are not even my biggest pet peeve in movies about Special Operations. Back in the day, movies about soldiers didn’t have to be politically correct. Remember the Dirty Dozen where Lee Marvin would smoke, drink, and use words like “god damn?” Maybe he was a badass because Lee Marvin actually fought the Japs in World War Two as a Marine and received a purple heart after getting machine-gunned and shot by a sniper.
These days we get a bunch of sissies in movies like Transformers, GI Joe, and god knows how many other awful movies I watched in airplanes. Every crew is exactly the same. We got our mandatory black dude on the team, but he isn’t nearly as cool as Mac in Predator. This dude has huge muscles, has a shaved head, and never talks. Then we got our commo guy, he’s just some nerd wearing glasses and we hope he dies in the first twenty minutes of the movie. Then we have the commander. He is always a Captain or a Major. He is always charismatic, handsome, and caucasian.
Personally, I’m gunning for a job as technical advisor in Hollywood just so I can get into the system and fuck things up from the inside out. With me on the set, you will see our Hollywood operators wearing penis gourds, loin clothes, and turtle shell helmets. After Sam Jackson wore a cape and a beret into the field in one of his movies, I really feel the need to push the audience to the point that they throw a brick at their television set.
Image courtesy of Lionsgate