These new army ads are BROILING my BUTT!!
army commercials? Are you as sickened as I am? Well, BG's Halloween cat, Elvira the Second, is not fond of them either.
They represent yet another shining example of some things that really BURN MY ASS!!
Despite searching the internet and the army website, I could not seem to find clips from the current TV ad campaign, so here is my biased, inaccurate, impressionistic rendition of three of them:
COMMERCIAL NUMBER ONE
Young guy, prime army age, in some jukejoint with his dad, playing pool. The dad is a tough, gruff sort. Obviously, the kid is eager to please this crusty authority figure, whom I gather has pooh-poohed his son's cockamamie career and life schemes many times before. The kid tentatively tries to chip away at dear old dad's skepticism, gingerly approaching the subject at hand.
Here's where the dialogue becomes hazy, but this is the gist I got.
Kid: Trying to be casual: "I think I've decided what my next step is."
Dad (No eye contact, of course, thanks to being absorbed in setting up his next shot, etc. "What's that?"
Kid: "The army will give me money to go to college. I can study any field I want."
Dad: But it's the army.
Kid: It's the reserves, so I can stay at home until they need me.
Dad: It's the army.
Kid: They'll train me; really cool stuff.
Dad: Suddenly looking up; close up to his craggy face with a glint of hope in his jaundiced eyes: "Good training?"
Kid: (a tad smugly) "It's the army."
The presumed aftermath:
Ol'Grizzle Pop is convinced at last that his directionless, spoiled brat of a son will finally be in good hands; safely and swiftly on the road to clean-cut normality. And because it's the reserves, he'll be at home til they need him (like, yesterday). Doubtless the rigors of army life: the strict discipline, the humiliation of basic, the unyielding hierarchy, will make a man out of him yet. Plus, the kid is obviously starving for atttention from a stern but emotionally distant father figure, and his homicidal drill seargeant ("Get after it, you maggots!")should fill that role quite quite nicely indeed.
COMMERCIAL NUMBER TWO
Kid sits down at the kitchen table with his moms for a little heart to heart.
Kid: "Mom, I know what I want to do with my life."
Mom: (With a world weary "I've heard it all before. What now?" expression): "Go on."
Kid: "I'm going to join the army, mom. I'll get money to go to college. Now, wait a minute, mom..."
Mom: (mentally rolling her eyes) "Yes, go on..."
Kid: "Mom, it's time for me to be a man."
Mom: (settling in for the Talk of a Lifetime): "Ok. Tell me more."
(Fade to black): Kid: "Well, I was thinking I'd like to be an engineer...."
The presumed aftermath:
Beleagured mom can finally stop worrying about her kid getting into trouble, not being a "man," and all that nasty stuff. He'll be out of her hair, on the road to a good career, and last but not least, she can have the run of the house again without having to pick up his dirty socks or make his bed. Hey, not too shabby, this army stuff.
COMMERICAL NUMBER 3
Rainy nighthouse; dad has just picked up son at train station. He's on leave, in uniform. They sit at counter, apparently having stopped for a quick cup of joe before heading home to mom.
Dad: "You're a changed man."
Son: "How's that?"
Dad: (Too overcome to look at his boy: "Back there, when you got off the train, you did two things you've never done before at the same time."(Pregnant pause). "You shook my hand, and you looked me square in the eye."
(Shot to dad looking his son square in the eye; shot to son who seems to have an oh-so-slight smirk on his face).
The presumed aftermath:
Sonny boy was on a one-way trip to Deep-Shitsville. Then somehow he found his way to the recruiting office, and now he is a fine, upstanding, (albeit slightly cocky and smirking) young man who can finally perform two social skills simultaneously.
Bring us your brain fried, your poor, your teeming n'er do wells yearning to break free and stay out of the joint...
This brand new campaign, started recently, is quite blatantly aimed at the parents of potential recruits. Doubtless it is designed to quell some of the anxieties mom and pop might have about having their sons and daughters sent into harm's way. Typically, the target market is those young people whose parents have not had the means/wherewithal to send them through law or med school, let alone the college of their choice.
The impetus for this current campaign was apparently the distressing fact that recruitment figures and quotas are down, at a time when active troops are being pushed to the limit, sometimes obliged to extend their tour of duty in Iraq much further than they had originally bargained for.
These new ads--which sport the tagline "Help them find their strength"-- replaced the pre-Iraqi war "Army of One" campaign, aimed at Gen Y'ers--esp. African American men-- who were used to a youth culture based on individualism rather than blind obedience to authority. Those ads, as I recall, focused on the image of recruits as glam Tom Cruise types a la Top Gun: out there performing their one-man missions from God in really cool fighter jets, doing those super keen ego enhancing swoops and 360s in a pure, clean, cloudless, American sky. Sexy, cocky mavericks who make their own rules--including maybe squeezing in a little schtuppy duppy with their hot training instructor (hey, if you believe Tom Cruise is capable of that, you can believe Joe Schmoe might have a shot at it too).
Turns out that the long standing Be All that You Can Be ad campaign, while still a morale-boosting touchstone for those already in the military, was no longer too effective for recruiting new youngsters. But that catchy little jingle was ubiquitious enough to become hard-wired into the collective unconscious.
In any case, the new ad campaign disgusts me, on several levels.
If you've ever seen Private Benjamin, you may recall that Goldie Hawn, a spoiled Jap, marries a guy who dies on their wedding night and then escapes into the military to get away from it all. Her recruiter plays up army life as a kind of country club, and she envisions herself basking in luxe suite accomodations, with ample time to kick back, try on new shades of lipstick, and do her nails. The reality hits her, and hits her hard, on her first morning of basic, when the tough female drill seargeant literally slings her and her mattress onto the floor after she tries to snuggle and snooze through wake up call. She tries to convince the brass that there's been some mixup--some terrible mistake--she must be in the wrong company. But she's stuck, and she does, indeed, become a fine figure of a woman, after numerous Lucille Ball style misadventures.
This may be very funny, but I know of at least one woman who was similarly misled by her recruiter, and it was definitely no joke. In a word, she was lied to and swindled. And I'm sure she's far from the only one.
I can only wonder how many millions are spent on these ad spots. Don't even get me started on that.
Now on to everyone's fave, Michael Moore's Fahrenheit 9/11...
My leanings made it easier for me to get totally sucked into this movie. Although many on the repub right seem to feel this is misleading propaganda, to my mind it seems to pale in comparison to the propaganda entailed in the army's fantasy-land commercials.
One of the most moving segments of F 9/11 concerned a mom who was initially more than happy to see her kids join the armed forces, since she felt that, particularly in the economically depressed, job-impoverished area she hailed from, families of limited means who could not afford to send their kids to college might see the military as a great choice for thier sons and daughters. She maintained this stance until her son was killed overseas. She eventually wound up being an outspoken opponent of the current war effort.
Perhaps, as his detractors claim, Moore employed some deceptive or misleading editing techniques, but all I can say is that the sequence with Dubya sitting in a classroom, kiddie book in hand, boasting the look of a poleaxed mule while Rome burned, spoke much louder to me than his patriotic words ever could.
That's it. I'll keep this one mercifully short, just for a change of pace, and turn the floor over to YOU!
Thanks to my pal Henry, I have two very relevant links to add for more info. In addition to a link to a site on military corruption, there is also a very interesting and chilling link to a site run by the lCentral Committee for Conscientious Objectors concerning Army recruitment vans touring schools around the country to glamorize the military life. The link to "Before you Enlist" gives myth-busting info on the supposed college and training benefits the army promises recruits. (Also: from the main site, click "military out of our schools," and then click on "military adventure vans" to get the full scoop on the recruitment vans). As they point out, "two-thirds of recruits never get any college funding for the miliary," and "joining the military is a dead end," since the skills learned are not particularly relevant to civilian jobs. The link also discusses issues such as the recuitment of minorities and women, the effect of the miliary on mental health and civil rights, and so on. Well worth checking out--although unfortunately, I think Blogger has once again gone senile and will not let me add the hyperlinks direvtly to these last two links, so just go to the Central Committee for Conscientious Objectors, and link to the specific pages from there.