'6 Certified' aims to shift how veterans are pictured on film, TV

Got Your 6's '6 Certified' program seeks to change perception of veterans in pop culture @latimes

A group dedicated to the entertainment industry's realistic representation of veterans is announcing on Friday a new seal of approval for portrayals of military men and women in films and television shows.

Called "6 Certified," after the military term that means "I've got your back," the program is launching with the support of First Lady Michelle Obama. The campaign seeks to shift perception of veterans in pop culture.

Studios, producers and other content creators will be eligible for the certification badge if the work contains "a representative and balanced depiction of veterans" and fulfills at least one of six pledges: to research or consult with veterans, family members or experts in the subject; to cast a veteran; to hire a veteran as a writer; to portray a veteran character; to tell a veteran story; or to use veterans as resources on set or in writers rooms.

Studies show that the public can have skewed views of veterans based on what's seen in film or on television, said Chris Marvin, executive director of Got Your 6, the group launching the new program. "They are heroes on one end of the spectrum or broken veterans on the other end of the spectrum," he said.

Marvin, an Army veteran, cited Ed O'Neill's role as Jay Pritchett on "Modern Family" and Bradley Cooper's depiction of Navy SEAL Chris Kyle in "American Sniper" as accurate portrayals.

In "Modern Family," Pritchett is "first and foremost a small business owner, father and grandfather" who happens to be a Navy veteran, Marvin said. "American Sniper," he said, tells "a great story that American audiences were anxious to hear.

"I think the American public is thirsty to have a conversation about the war, about returning veterans, about the issues and about opportunities that surround that group of people," Marvin said. "Veterans a lot of the time are everyday people ... but not many take the time to incorporate that into their content development."

Skewed portrayals of veterans in pop culture can "get in the way of veterans re-integrating to life," Marvin said. "When that's the only view that the civilian population gets of veterans, that tends to be how they think all veterans are."

Producer Bruce Cohen ("Silver Linings Playbook"), one of several Hollywood executives who are part of the initiative, said the goal of "6 Certified" is to spread awareness.

"It's important because a hit movie or TV series just has a way of reaching more people and making such an impact," he said. "The dream certainly is that we'll be engaging a whole new group of folks who hadn't thought about this as much and will now be inspired to do so."

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