Thursday, March 29, 2007

A free messenger bag?

I just heard one of the Army's latest recruitment ads.

That was thrown in at the end. "A DVD with real guardsmen stories and a free messenger bag."

I took the ASVAB test in 10th grade - free get-out-of-class test, but it was as boring as class. And I tanked the last part, which was about gears and such.

Most of kids were ROTC, if they weren't (like me), we had military parents and had lived/were still living on the base.

So I got a call a couple weeks ago, after finding out that I am a genius who will get so much money for school I don't need the army and its promises of money for college.

I copied down the 1-800 number and said I'd call her tomorrow and have some fun. Mom said don't, she's only doing her job, but I still wanted to. Then I felt like shit the next day and didn't want to.

But I'm doing it tomorrow.

The recruitment ads are disgusting propaganda filled with lies - especially airing during shows discussing the Walter Reed and other VA hospital messes.

The first time they pissed me off - Becky was watching "Flight 29 Is Down" and there was a recruitment ad. Before noon. On a Saturday. When children are watching tv. We are still child-like at 18, yes, I'm definitely immature and constantly making stupid social blunders, but this aired during tv shows for people younger than my sister, who was 14 or 15 at the time. She was too old for the shows, and I know I am. (Doesn't mean I still don't love some.)

But a recruitment ad during children's programming? Ew. And that was in late 2005 or early 2006, and I posted about it at the IMDb Soapbox and no one cared. "So, it's the free market. They have the right to..."

And then there's the Wii commercials.

There was a hideous ad for the Wii a few months ago. My understanding of video games is limited. When we were in Iceland, my sister and I had an ongoing thing where we'd "punish" our favorite stuffed animals (a platypus named Puffy for me, a white bear in a shirt with the words "HUG ME" named Huggums for the Beck. When I was in the hospital in August for almost a week, I had them bring me Puffy. And apparently, I clutched him in my sleep. *collective aw time*) for playing Sega long into the night. "Does Puffy want to play with Huggums?" "No, he's playing Sega again." It followed us into the states, even into the base.

My dad kept us pretty isolated growing up, Becky was my best friend until I was 10 and she was 7. Now we have to be locked in separate rooms to prevent soricide. That's what you get for making us take Tae Kwon Do, Mom.

We knew it was a video game, that's about it.

I did have a Gameboy for a while, I played the Sims Bustin' Out on it. I got it because we didn't know how long our cousins would be here, and I love the Sims, and this was a way to play it and get the hell away from Daniel. (He's doing great, he's in Job Corps. No army for him! Yay! Happy Dance!)

Back to the Wii. I thought it was pronounced like why, but it's not. The commercials with the Asian guys use it like the word "we", instead of where my immature, 18-and-a-half year old, future University of Memphis Honors Student mind goes, which is to the urine and the penis.

Apparently, with the Wii, the controller is a stick instead of the traditional thingie. And instead of pressing buttons to make your character do something, you must become the character and move the controller in the way required. (The bowling one is cute.) The best example - a baseball video game, you swing the controller, and your swing shows up as the batter's swing. That's actually a good thing for video gamers - it does make you active.

But back to the disgusting ad. It was for a war video game. No specific war, not like the awful Vietnam ones, but you could tell the setting was within my lifetime. The first Iraq war, Kosovo, the war in Afghanistan, the current one, who knows? I only saw the ad a few time. I probably wasn't the only one disgusted.

The controller was a gun. The ad had the teenager in the war setting shooting people. Then it pulled back to show him not crouching behind the remains of a building, but behind the couch.

Nauseating. The controller was a gun!

There's a new Army ad that uses video games. Two boys my age (it's always boys in the ads, except the National Guard and Coast Guard ones) are playing a war video game and the soldier turns to them and says, "You think this is exciting? Why not try the real thing?"

There are less objectionable ones, less violent ones. They lie, they mention nothing of Post-Traumatic-Stress-Disorder or the shortening of time away from Iraq along with the extension of time in Iraq.

There was an interesting thing on another website, sorry I can't recall, about how some of the new ads were made to appeal to the parents. There's one where the kid is convincing the dad that it was a good idea to join the army. The others talk about how the army made their son (again with the men!) a better person, more respectful.

I think the second kind may be the reason one of my classmates died over the summer between junior and senior year. He died at bootcamp in Missouri. He was not in the ROTC. I only had one class with him junior year, but I knew him. He was a slacker with no respect for authority, not someone who wanted to join the military.

After he died, he was very patriotic.

Of course, that's been going on for a while - this is the last straw, son*, you're either going to jail or you're joining the military.


*Bad girls aren't threatened with the military. We're threatened with the psych ward. (At least I am.)

They promise money for college and experience that will help you get a job when you leave.

The money for college almost sucked me in, about a year ago. I was really worried my mom and dad couldn't afford college, and I know you need some form of education beyond high school and they cost money. But mom said hell no, and look, I don't need them!

However, I'd filled out the Army's postcard, so a recruiter called this month and left a 1-800 number.

I was going to call back and play along, but no, the poor woman's doing her job. And then I felt like death warmed over, so I forgot about it. And tossed the number. Damn! Well, I'm calling the local recruiting office in the morning.

Hell, if I feel good enough, I'm riding my bike over there.

Disclaimer - I have nothing against the military, only the leaders who make the decisions that lead to catastrofucks like the current one. You can support the troops and not support the war. I want them safe. I want them home. Safety means adequate armor, for one, which requires funding. Which requires taking money from one thing to another. Like take some of the money the companies that are "rebuilding" Iraq got and give it to the soldiers so they can all have kevlar vests. (In 100+ weather. No humidity, though, so it can't suck as much as wearing blue jeans in Memphis in May. Honestly, the whiners.) I love my family members who were in the military, and I'll support any of my cousins if they join.

But disagreeing with their boss means you hate them. The superintendent of the schools is not well-liked. (He got rid of the school janitorial staff in favor of a company run by a family member.) So that means I hate my mom and all the teachers? No.

My dad is a conservative. He loves Bush. He has a hat that says Club Gitmo. Even he knows you can support the troops and hate the war. Somebody said (or posted an op-ed) at the message board once that said you can't do that. Because by saying you want the war over, you're saying you want them to lose. And if you want the war to end, you want them to die. It was compared to firefighters and police officers and made zero sense.

Something is wrong here, very wrong.

And we need the draft again, so we will all feel the pinch. We had "victory gardens" in WWII and everyone knew someone fighting in Vietnam.

Most of us aren't doing anything but slapping magnets on our cars. If the war was felt by everyone, if we all made real sacrifices, maybe it will end. Leaders can't think of the soldiers they're sending to war as individual human beings, they can't even think of them as a group of human beings that live and love, because then they'll get distracted.

I hope our next administration thinks of the troops as real people, not just numbers and boots on the ground.

Good night.

A free messenger bag?


A free messenger bag?

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