Citizen/Soldier

While going to see Juno at the movie theater last week, I was subjected (and not for the first time) to this National Guard recruitment music video:

That’s right, “liberal” Hollywood tried to send me to Iraq and tried to convince me not to get an abortion all in the same sitting.

Anyway, the video comes back to my attention via Barron YoungSmith at TNR who writes in its defense:

But the more I think about it, the more I’m convinced the video is getting a bad rap. It’s certainly less disingenuous than your average army ad: It makes war look like hell. And it doesn’t ply the socially disadvantaged with offers of money and education.

Some of the scenes look like they come directly from Black Hawk Down–a film that emphasizes the horrors of war, if there ever was one. (In fact, the “Citizen Soldiers” are real personnel filmed in California). All this music video has to offer is blood, toil, tears, sweat, and endless deployments to countries torn by sectarian strife. If, after such an unvarnished pitch, a kid still wants to sign up and fight, well, that’s a pretty legitimate choice.

That’s all well and good, but the fact that it didn’t “ply the socially disadvantaged” was not out of altruism, but rather target marketing. You’ll notice that the soldiers are almost all white, and the way in which it harkens back to the Revolutionary War is explicitly designed to appeal to whites.

Also, it’s sort of odd to show the Revolutionary War at all. After all, if you sign up for the National Guard and end up in Iraq, historically speaking you’ll have more in common with the Redcoats than the Minutemen, no?

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