Wednesday, March 29, 2006
I WANT YOU!
Am I the only one who is really pissed off by the new wave of military recruitment ads? You know the ones I’m talking about – a young guy returns home in full uniform and he and Dear Old Dad have a man-cry moment about how much better he is at handshaking, a fatherless kid of about 18 decides that he can prove his manliness to his mom (WARNING: Oedipal overtones!) by joining the army so he can go to college, etc. Dear God, do these disturb me.
Liberal-leaning art school wuss that I am, I still think this country needs a strong military. I also think that in order to have a strong military you need people who want to be there, like any organization that aims for success. For a lot of people, the military can be a terrific opportunity to get ahead in life. Immediately after 9/11, even I considered it. I was unemployed at the time, unsure of what I wanted to do next, and felt like I was contributing nothing to society when society clearly needed all the help it could get. I have three uncles and a cousin who were in the Navy, so it is in the blood. But then I reminded myself of all the things that I would hate about life in the armed forces: the mind control, the humorlessness, the lack of free will, and the real possibility that I might play a role in killing people. I would have gone crazy. I also realized that there were plenty of other ways to improve the world we live in without enlisting. But hey, that’s just me. A lot of people love that disciplined environment, and I’m glad that they’re out there fighting for us and making something of themselves. Too bad a lot of them are fighting and dying in an unnecessary war that is now three years old, declared by a president who has never given a good reason for its being declared, and now doesn’t seem to care that there’s no end in sight, but I digress.
What angers me about these recruitment ads is how misleading they are. Instead of showing any kind of reality about military life, they show young kids how proud their parents might be if they join the army. No marching, saluting, guns, planes, ships, rockets, or national monuments. Certainly no explosions, screaming civilians, hospitals, or body bags. All we see are ambitious kids having heart-to-heart talks with Mom and/or Dad. I’m guessing that since enlistment rates are at such a low point, the military figured it needed to try a new marketing strategy to loop in kids that normally wouldn’t be interested, which apparently includes the kind of kids who fix radios, like snowboarding, have engineering ambitions, and are incapable of simultaneously shaking hands with Dad while looking him square in the eye. It all reeks of trickery to me, and I hope that those targeted kids see through this line of bullshit. I hope that they take some time and find out exactly what they are in for. If, after doing some investigation and hard thinking, they want to join up, more power to them. I respect that. I just really hope that no one joins up and dies because he saw a piece of melodramatic propaganda from a desperate and dishonest administration.