~ The theme song of the Army Brat ~
There have been occasional movies or TV shows that featured army brats, or military brats in general, every now and then. Most of them aren’t very flattering towards the lifestyle. The Great Santini showed the dad as abusive and the kids as traumatized as a result. There was a really cheesy twist on the mid-80s POW rescue movie genre in which a bunch of kids went into North Korea to rescue their parents, ignoring the fact that if you had parents in the Korean War, you were in your mid-thirties in the ’80s. The short-lived Call to Glory TV show was built around military bases also, but around the parents.
None of those shows really focused on military kids in any sort of believable way. And it’s hard to believe that previous sentence actually describes the movie Iron Eagle given that it revolves around a high school kid stealing an F16 to rescue his dad who was shot down over Libya.
But the kids are written like normal kids just with an overabundance of information based on paying attention to what their parents did. They act like normal kids act, hanging out at a drive-in, and having each other’s backs when someone’s in trouble. The kids in Iron Eagle are only a few years older than me and my friends when the movie came out and it was one of the first times we saw ourselves on screen. We saw kids whose parents were in uniform, serving the country, and sacrificing for the country, while the kids went about their lives because that’s what we did. It’s interesting that even though our parents weren’t really called to the same sort of lifetime of war that our generation is, you can almost feel a better kinship with the kids of today’s soldiers than you can with some of your peers from “your generation” because of that shared experience of being in the military.
It’s funny how easy it is for people to dismiss the idea of representation in media when they don’t have to go very far to find themselves on screen. I didn’t have much in common with the kids in Footloose or Fast Times at Ridgemont High, but I did with the kids in Iron Eagle. So when your gay friend or your Latino friend makes a comment about not really being reflected in media at all, keep in mind that those on-screen representations matter to all sorts of people, even the ones you wouldn’t expect.
The song itself doesn’t really speak too much of Army brat life, even though it does talk about traveling around a bit. But it’s the song that’s featured the most in Iron Eagle as Jason Gedrick plays it multiple places throughout the movie. That’s why it’s so heavily associated with those of us that grew up in APO, NY.