Social justice brought to light in Tina Fey movie Whiskey Tango Foxtrot

“Whiskey Tango Foxtrot” follows a naive American reporter, played by Tina Fey, as she learns the ins and outs of wartime Afghanistan. Image courtesy of Paramount Pictures.
“Whiskey Tango Foxtrot” follows a naive American reporter, played by Tina Fey, as she learns the ins and outs of wartime Afghanistan. Image courtesy of Paramount Pictures.

I must begin this article by saying that I am a huge Tina Fey fan- possibly the biggest Tina Fey fan on the planet. So before I even watched the trailer for Whiskey Tango Foxtrot, I knew I would be seeing it in theaters. If you have never heard of this movie or do not know anything about it, fear not.

The movie follows Kim Baker, played by Tina Fey, who is an American journalist and news reporter. Baker is sent to Afghanistan in 2002 and stays years after she is meant to. She experiences a myriad of interesting relationships as well as the vastly different culture of Afghanistan.

A warning: the movie is listed in the “comedy/war” genre. I disagree with this classification. Though there are funny moments, the overarching mood seemed much more serious than comedic.

As you may have expected if you have seen Tina Fey in almost any other movie or television show, she plays an unmarried, childless woman who has a sharp wit and an even sharper tongue. I always admire this type of character as I can see myself in them (or at least I wish to).

The film calls upon many different issues during its one hour and 52-minute run time. This issues include war, poverty and women’s issues. We see three rather gory post-combat scenes, only one of which is treated with comedy.

The other two show ravaged, bloodied bodies of screaming men and women crying over their maimed loved ones. One scene that really spoke to me featured the character Ian MacKelpie, played by Martin Freeman. In the scene he is giving money to a begging boy who had previously conned Baker.

Baker advises MacKelpie to keep his money, telling him it’s a scam. But MacKelpie replies with  something to the effect of “I know it’s a scam. That doesn’t change the fact that he’s begging in the streets.” It seemed to me, a call to action. Since this is a Tina Fey movie, of course it covers women’s issues.

There are comments about oppression in Afghanistan, but Kim does not just complain about these matters. Throughout the film, we watch her defy Afghanistan’s rules against women, demanding men of high rank to speak to her directly and even placing herself directly in a men only meeting so that she can film for the news. These actions were empowering to see and made me want to be more proactive in being a brave, assertive woman.

Not only does Whiskey Tango Foxtrot cover social issues, but it also defies some of the traditional gender roles we see in popular movies. SPOILER: In the end, Baker is left without a romantic relationship and does not feel empty or unhappy without one.

She has a very non-hostile relationship with an ex-lover, but does not crave romance like it is the only important thing in her life. Throughout the movie, she is satisfied and happy only having rich friendships around her- a contrast from most movies and television shows.

All in all, this film was a great one to see. It does not leave you feeling drained of emotion or energy, but it does call upon several important topics. It includes romance, but that’s not the focus. There is war, but it is not a war movie. In the end, it is a story of growth and adventure, including funny swearing and a lovable protagonist. It is well worth your time.

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