Lately, I have felt like we are being barraged by Army recruitment commercials. I don't know if it is similar nation-wide, or if it's just that the Army sees Central MO as their personal breeding ground. Either way, I am becoming sick of seeing them. My distaste for our country's use of our armed forces and for violence in general definitely plays a role in my weariness for these commercials. However, most of it is the commercials themselves and the messages within.
One such commercial shows a group of friends hanging out and talking at someone's home. As they talk and laugh, an old friend walks in wearing army attire and makes some comment about how they're doing the same old thing to get their attention. After quick happy greetings, they talk with him about what the armed forces have him doing, asking things like, "so, they got you jumping out of planes?". He replies that no, he's working with computers. The friends look surprised and ask "couldn't you do that here?" The next scene is a mental flashback showing some moment in time when he is working with computers in a rushed atmosphere that is made to feel important, like he has the fate of the world in his hands. Then things flash back to the scene with the friends and he replies that he couldn't do it here. However, his reply is filled with such condescension and sarcasm that I cannot even begin to illustrate it with words. What is the message I get from this commercial? What you do is only important if you do it for the army, and you are less of a person, a deadbeat perhaps, if you choose not to join the army.
Another commercial that bothers me portrays a black family. In it a son comes to his mother quite excited, telling her that he has found a way to pay for college. The mother looks quite concerned at this moment. The son goes on to explain that he has fully researched this opportunity, and describes it as though it is the best, most exciting, and apparently safest thing around(this is how I interpret the commercial, though it isn't actually said). And the message from this commercial is...? Basically, this one says the only way poor minorities can pay for school is to join the army. I have a response to this commercial. I believe MoveOn.org or some other organization willing to should create a commercial of their own. This commercial should portray a rich family with Bush and "support our troops" signs, magnets, and stickers everywhere. Their son walks in, excited, talking about a new opportunity. It may be difficult to believe he's doing it to pay for school, so maybe he thinks of it as a fraternity or something. In response his parents are adamant that their people (those with money) do not do such things; that's for the poor and minorities. The ending message would be something like "support the war? Join the army." Hopefully, the organization that would choose to do this commercial hopefully has skilled writers for such things who could work with this premise to create a commercial that gets the message across before causing blinding fury, as I'm sure my initial description would if turned into a commercial.
Now, before I end this, I want to make one thing clear. I support and respect the troops. I know it was not their fault they are being used to kill innocent people for a unknown objective. I also believe it is the army's right to advertise, as can any other organization. However, I ask that they be more respectful of those of us who have chosen a life of non-violence as civilians. We are important, too. I also ask that the army work toward being an equal opportunity recruiter. Sure, your hook works better with those who cannot pay for college, but shouldn't the family with the big house draped in American flags be an easy sell, too?