The Uncanny War in Ukraine 

Tuesday, March 8th, 2022

I’ve found it very strange to witness Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in the past couple of weeks. While I’ve seen wars in my adult life, they’ve all seemed somehow different. Lili Loofbourow has done a good job of sorting out exactly why this feels so strange.

I have been puzzling over a no less nostalgic quality I notice in my response to these clips that I don’t quite know how to place…they evoke in me feelings I have had while watching movies about World War II: the last “noble” war, the one with a clear, unambiguous villain that had a thousand films made about it commemorating how the brave Allies fought the evil Nazis and the sacrifices they made. I have in the past firmly relegated those feelings to the domain of fiction—a realm where I expect to be manipulated and don’t guard against it overmuch…There having been no such “noble wars” in my lifetime, I don’t really believe the category exists. To put it bluntly: The things I have felt watching World War II movies are not ones I have felt, or expect to feel, about real events.

Ukraine’s response feels just, like something we can rally around, in the same way that World War II has always been presented.


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