Military veterans have gotten sick of the same old story being told in pop culture: Men and women heroically go off to battle and return broken, unable to reintegrate into society.
That’s where the 6 Certification comes in. The certification program was started by veteran advocacy group Got Your 6, which decided to reward movies and television shows that accurately portray service members without falling into the pitfalls of easy stereotypes. And the inaugural list of six has a couple surprises.
One is “Modern Family.” Even avid fans of the show might forget that Ed O’Neill’s character, Jay Pritchett, is a veteran. Every once in a while he’ll mention that he was in the Navy, but otherwise, he’s just an average guy. And that’s exactly the point.
One of the things executive director Chris Marvin hopes to encourage with the certification program is normalizing our view of the military. If a character was in the military, it’s a footnote rather than the whole story.
“I think a lot of times that’s what scares off filmmakers,” he said recently. “They think, if I want to put a veteran in here, there has to be a whole back story and a whole range of issues and a whole really complicated experience that’s within this character.”
The other selections that made the cut include “American Sniper,” the much-debated blockbuster about real-life Navy SEAL Chris Kyle, and, interestingly enough, “Dancing With the Stars.” The reality show was rewarded for including veteran and double amputee Noah Galloway as a contestant last season. Galloway “counters stereotypical portrayals of veterans as ‘charity cases,'” the group said in a release.
Rounding out the list were “Hawaii Five-O,” the low-key indie drama “Amira and Sam” and the NBC medical show “The Night Shift.”
That’s an eclectic list, which is by design. Any production company can nominate its movies or shows, and there was more interest than Marvin expected, so his team methodically whittled down the list to present to the certification committee.
“We’re pulling the ones that we think will have the biggest impact on society,” he said. “Either this is an amazing portrayal or this is a very widely distributed or widely watched show or film and lots of Americans are going to see it, so it will have a bigger difference.”
That explains how a massive movie like “American Sniper” shares space with “Amira and Sam,” a sweet romance that most people have probably never heard of.
Marvin is hoping six more titles will be 6 Certified later this year.