The International Writers
It shows a decidedly
enviable side of the story. Just not the whole story. Nothing new there.
However, there is no other voice refuting it, providing an alternative
viewpoint, as with the other junk pitched during sporting events. And
this I have a problem with.
you seen the new ad for the Armed Forces? The Columbia Broadcast
System has been running it incessantly during the NCAA Men's Basketball
Tournament. Prime audience. Good demographic. No doubt. Young
men 18-35. It is very moving, almost sweet, and dripping with
Americana. Nothing wrong with that. It is effective propaganda,
the core of any good ad campaign.
In the ad we have a young man, white, middle-class, midwestern farmer's
son -- healthy, handsome, prideful, articulate. He stands dressed impeccably
in his U.S. Army uniform, adorned impressively with shiny brass, a beret
slanted upon his shorn crown. We have the proud father, a graying middle-aged
man, choked up about his once mixed feelings when the kid came to him
for permission to join the service, but how it has made him a powerful,
disciplined, respectful young pillar of society. We have the mother gushing.
We have the backdrop of wheat fields and cows grazing, a classic field
tractor set beside a sun-baked wooden fence harkening to a romantic time
The tag line is "You made them strong -- We'll make
them Army strong."
It is an excellent piece of propaganda. Truly. I am not
being facetious. It is well crafted, drifting towards maudlin but not
quite sickeningly so. It is certainly better than all that nonsense about
joining the army to learn computer skills and blow up stuff and run around
with face-paint brandishing guns and "being all you can be".
It is homespun and relatable, and it honestly depicts the backbone of
this country. Without a functioning army and the sacrifices of thousands
upon millions, I would not be writing this today. You would certainly
not be reading it.
However, I think it patently unfair to not have an ad running
during the basketball tourney that depicts the other side of the pitch.
Isn't that what a free-trade democracy is all about? Isn't that why we
endured the Cold War against the Godless Communists?
I see an ad for Coke. I see an ad for Pepsi. I see and ad
for Nike. I see an ad for Reebok. I see an ad for Chrysler. I see an ad
for Toyota. I see an ad for this hotel and that hotel, this airline and
that airline, this computer and that computer, and so on and so on. All
of it is some form of propaganda, some less subtle than the next, but
hardcore propaganda at its best. Playful half-truths and a few forgivably
blatant lies set to music or basked in humor. People going to great lengths
of travel, construction, and emotional entanglement for a goddamn light-beer
that tastes like cat piss. It's silly stuff, mostly. But there is a myriad
of choices available. There is a free enterprise, competitive nature to
it that makes living and consuming in this nation a hoot.
So why not see an ad displaying the risks of joining the
U.S. Army? Otherwise it is flat-out brainwashing, made ever more frightening
by the fact that it is bankrolled, produced, and disseminated by the federal
government, which is supported and bankrolled by the American people.
Isn't a one-way message forced down the citizenry's throat one of the
prime reasons why our armed forces went all over the globe defeating corrupted
governments and blind dictatorships in the first place? Ironically, isn't
that what we are ostensibly trying to build in the Middle East?
Why not have a wounded veteran, a young, good-looking, articulate
soldier tell potential recruitees what happened to him/her? How about
some of these kids in the hospitals -- maybe even shoot it from the lousy
conditions at Walter Reed as a realistic backdrop -- warning viewers of
the very real and consequential risks involved with serving in the military?
Obviously the federal government is not going to trot out
a legless victim of war, a soldier with permanent brain damage, or a disgruntled
participant in a foreign conflict who was promised computer training and
fun in a submarine but is currently barely surviving in a desert halfway
across the globe. Maybe there should be a privately funded ad run during
major sporting events featuring indentured servants of large universities
(basketball factories) trumpeted by ex-jocks and exploitive network freaks
streamed to a nation of gambling addicts.
It is not too much to ask from the longest-running democracy
on the planet.
I know the other side of my argument: We have to have a
strong military, and the armed forces -- the Navy, Air Force, Marines
-- produce fine young people, take kids from bad environments and dead-end
lives and gives them important jobs, engendering a sense of pride and
accomplishment. Are we to allow this institution, the bedrock of our nation,
to falter? And I say, not at all. But if we allow only one side of the
story, the young, handsome, middle-class white kid from the sticks, to
be the only spokesman for the institution, we are not serving the citizens
of this country to its fullest. Not the kids. Not their parents. No one.
Not without telling the whole story.
Of course I'm dreaming. This is never going to happen. Run
an ad telling the complete truth about service in the U.S. Army? Think
of the revenue CBS would lose. The CBS Network News has never recovered
from the stink of leftist anti-American slants following Dan Rather's
botched Bush bashing two years ago. Think of the exodus en masse of the
sponsors, so afraid of appearing unpatriotic, unthinkably running their
parade of deceit next to brutal truths. Think of the furor to be raised
by the holy-than-thou NCAA, so filled with phony, money-gorging mutants.
One last thing: People are always whining about stuff on
television offending them. Well, allowing a single partisan, biased, and
wholly propagandized version of a pitch without refute offends me.
© James Campion March 23rd 2007
James Campion *Parts 1 & 2
Sixty days is a long time in Washington. In 600 days there might
not even be a Washington.
1 - Democrats - 0
James Campion in the house
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