Tuesday, August 14, 2012

And Now For My Anti-War/Pro-Veteran/Mom's Opinion on NBC's "Stars Earn Stripes"

You can ask my wife. Every SINGLE time the commercial came on during the Olympics promoting the debut of "Stars Earn Stripes" -- the glorifying combat, turning the horrors of war into a game show, 21st century version of Roman gladiators in the Coliseum distracting the masses from the abuses of the Empire, pseudo-reality show -- I ranted about what a travesty it was. Every. Single. Time. (And we watched a LOT of Olympic coverage so we saw the commercial a LOT of times!)

So how delighted was I to get word that I am not only not alone -- but I stand in the company of not one but NINE Nobel Peace Prize winners saying the same thing -- Desmond Tutu, Jody Williams, Mairead Maguire, Shirin Ebadi, Jose Ramos-Horta, Adolfo Perez Esquivel, Oscar Arias Sanchez, Rigoberta Menchu Tum and Betty Williams. More or less. From their letter to NBC:
"It is our belief that this program pays homage to no one anywhere and continues and expands on an inglorious tradition of glorifying war and armed violence. Military training is not to be compared, subtly or otherwise, with athletic competition by showing commercials throughout the Olympics. Preparing for war is neither amusing nor entertaining."
NBC, responding to the charges, said that "Stars Earn Stripes" is "about thanking the young Americans who are in harm's way every day. This show is not a glorification of war, but a glorification of service."

I've got a graphic for that. It's:

And just to be clear -- I'm wearing two hats for the occasion.

The first one is my "give-peace-a-chance"/"war is not healthy for children and other living things" conviction forged in the crucible of the 70's honed into a deep antipathy to military solutions in the service of empire building rather than diplomatic initiatives in the service of bridge building" hat.

Yeah, Yeah, Yeah ... I know. We live in a different world. The threat of attack from terrorist ideologues challenges old paradigms. Which is why I'm not a pacifist. Wish I was sometimes, truly. But I just can't go there in the face of Rwanda. Or Bosnia. Or al-Qaeda. Wish I didn't believe that sometimes in a world beset by violence that counter-violence wasn't a necessary option.

But there's a difference between understanding war as a regrettably necessary option and exploiting war for mid-season ratings. And that's where I put my second hat on.

The second one is my "mother of an Army veteran, Blackhawk helicopter crew chief who served a 15 month stint in Iraq and two special-ops deployments in Afghanistan, don't you DARE trivialize the lives and sacrifices of our troops still in harm's way by reducing their service to a glorified game show" hat.

Enough is freakin' enough. Join me -- with both my Anti-War/Pro-Vets hats firmly in place -- and NINE Nobel Peace Prize winners in calling on NBC to be ashamed of themselves.

You "thank young Americans in harm's way" by working to end war -- not by glorifying it. And you "glorify service" by rewarding their sacrifice with health, education and employment benefits that serve our veterans -- not by exploiting their sacrifice with a game-show that benefits your stockholders.

We may not all be Nobel Peace Prize winners who can get media attention for our opposition but we still have a voice.

Sign the petition here. If you're a twitter person send this tweet out today:
@NBC has created a war-o-tainment reality show w/ no role for reality -- Protest #starsearnstripes here: bit.ly/O2wlRN
Speak out. Step up. Go. Do it. Now. Seriously!


Susan Pederson said...

Love your hats, Susan!!

bev said...

I got a sore throat yelling BULLS#&T every time the commercial aired. My poor dog was glad when the Olympics were over :)

Kirkepiscatoid said...

I have to tell you, Susan, it troubled me too. My "baby cousin" (22 years my junior) was in Iraq for 11 months in 2007. There was too much video game symbolism to suit me...and I enjoy a good shoot 'em up video game now and then. There is no reset button in a firefight or an IED explosion.

dr.primrose said...

The fact that one of the "stars" is Todd Palin pretty much sums up the lack of social redeeming value of this show.

Bateau Master said...

Have to disagree - not that the show sucks pond water - but the that Preparing for war is neither amusing or entertaining.

PREPARING for war is both - facing and going to war is hell.

There's a lot of fun and satisfaction expending tax dollars throwing 120mm rounds down range at 5000+ fps while motoring your 64ton M1 at 30 mph and putting steel on target. Follow it up with 2 or 3 boxes of caliber 50 - and its Class 6 & Fuente time!

Again, the show sucks - but the skills and practicing the skills bring immense satisfaction.

Muserudita said...

I am a veteran. I also worked for a number if years counseling disabled veterans at the VA after I got my education. I am now retired.

The show was a travesty, and it DID make a mockery of not only the training aspects of the military because "STARZ" were proposing to go out and roll in the grime for some truncated period of time- achieve some trivial task- and then strut away to the air conditioning as though they had really DONE SOMETHING. *gag*

Let them come to my old office and listen to a big ol Marine sob while he considers the things he has done, lost, and contemplates his future. THAT is the reward most of our veterans return to face. I am not saying there are no resources for them- there are...some.

But I (like many veterans) get SO SICK OF CELEBRITY TAKING PRECIDENCE OVER TRUE VALUE. I can guarantee you if a helicopter full of service women/men gets blown up in Afghanistan and on the same day a celebrity dies---the only community that will know about and pass around the information about the helicopter are the veterans.

A veteran is someone who, at some point in his or her life wrote a check payable to the United States of America for "Up to and including my life".
I wrote my check ON my 18th birthday.

Ok- getting too rambly- thanks for listening.
Melissa Jackson