The Invisible War – Overview/ Review (with Spoilers)

Like with Blackfish, I discovered the existence of The Invisible War through watching Bill Maher’s Real Time. The subject matter for The Invisible War, in some ways, shares some similarities with Blackfish in the sense that something preventable was ignored and covered up. But, rather than it be a whale which was the subject to…

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Like with Blackfish, I discovered the existence of The Invisible War through watching Bill Maher’s Real Time. The subject matter for The Invisible War, in some ways, shares some similarities with Blackfish in the sense that something preventable was ignored and covered up. But, rather than it be a whale which was the subject to abuse, this film deals with Military culture and how both men and women are raped and have no means or method to see their case lead to justice.

Now, like with Blackfish there wasn’t necessarily any person, or animal in that movie’s case, with a central focus, but there were those who stood out. For this film it is a young woman named Kori Cioca, but she is joined by many other women, and a few men, who share their testimonies and lives. What I liked, at least in the beginning, was that there seemed to be a diverse group presented in the movie. There were Black women, White women, Hispanic women, and in terms of men there was less diversity, but it was nice to see them accounted for.

In terms of what the film is looking to educate you on, there is a theme which sort of damns the military in terms of not just sweeping their rape cases under the rug, but also fostering a culture of which presents the opportunity for people capable of rape to do so, victim blame and support the idea that women are more so a commodity than an ally. To show this, we have the various testimonies of survivors, lots of statistics and we are lucky enough to even get some people who say everything that can be done is being done, even when it is not. I feel though, the main focus is on Kori trying to get the VA to pay for the damage done unto her, post-rape, while they also feature the stories of the various women, and briefly a few men, on their rise in the military and what lead them to leaving. There is even one testimony, anonymous mind you, of a woman currently serving.

Being someone that likes documentaries, I found this one to be quite good. The reason why I liked it was because, often with films like these it seems like they really narrow their focus so that the problem seems to only affect a certain type. With this film however, there were a diverse group of women, and men, who were being interviewed about their service and who were giving their testimony. And, as always, though you can find a few people who have been well trained to read a script and respond to question as they should, it is still nice to have some type of naysayer to give some type of sign that they aren’t trying to make the arguments all one sided. But, even with that said, each story you hear is given such detail that anything a representative for the military, or the military rape prevention program, says, sounds like they were fed to say it in interviews. Oh, and I was quite fond of how they broke down how the military justice system works for these type of cases. Based on watching The Good Wife, I was aware of military court being different from civilian court, but this film broke it down so that you could get a better understanding.


And with that came the issue that there were only three people saying the military was doing all it could, but with being one incompetent and the others seemed like they have been handling these questions for a generation, they didn’t make for the best counterargument. Also, I found it strange how we focused on Kori’s life and story, no matter how interesting it is, while the other women basically presented their military occupation, back-story and then we got nothing of their personal lives. It made it seem they picked Kori’s story to be the one we got to know the most since she had the most “commercial” look, if you catch my drift. Which also was one issue I had. Remember when I mentioned how diverse of a group they had. Well, that only applies in the beginning. After we get past people coming out that they have been raped, we then focus solely on White people who were under those circumstances and follow their stories. Now, I should note, this is because they were part of a lawsuit, but it does feel strange how the documentary becomes completely voided of any person of color, be it a person who was raped, in the military or even in congress, after they go through showing how many different people had been raped.

Overall: Rental

The documentary as a whole is informative, but I do feel I must warn you that even without physical imagery, it all could be very triggering since the stories may not be vulgar, but you can visualize the situations. Still, I liked it and think that it probably holds more weight than those rape prevention videos seen in the movie which were filled with bad acting and, in one case, a rap. I think, if the military would allow, it could and should be used as a means for the military to talk about their issue with rape, and perhaps used in an educational environment to talk about rape in terms of the culture of victim blaming, how to approach reporting and in various other ways. After all, rape is not just an issue in the military, but our society as a whole and though it is used occasionally as a plot device, it rarely goes into the details of the long term effects of being a survivor. So, overall I would say this is a rental for general consumers, but maybe something to own for educational purposes.

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