Duty

Bee's picture
Sat, 02/05/2011 - 21:00 -- Bee

Throughout most of the years I lived in the United States military recruitment ads were selling a version of service that looked like a video game: fast action, high adrenaline, cool. They were compelling, visually interesting. They made the military (and war) look like fun.

Later, when recruitment figures went down, the sales pitch became more specific and elaborate: the credentials you could gain, the boost to your career, a free college education - the benefits were the promotional angle.

Now?

The television advertisements (running in nearly every commercial break during all the shows I have watched) feature a young man playing football taking a break to tell his dad, sitting in a pickup truck, that he is going to join despite parental objections. The dad looks reluctant, but agrees - apparently because he accepts that the child is old enough to make independent decisions.

Another spot features a mother, washing dishes in agitation, with her (apparently teenage) daughter insisting that she is going to go. . . and the mother in obvious pain accepting the declaration. Hugs!

Um.

So the United States military accepts the premise that joining is a difficult, controversial choice that will upset your loved ones. Or more: the narrative structure of these advertisements stops just short of characterising the decision as "foolhardy."

Wow.

Did I miss a transitional phase, when service was promoted as a patriotic duty?

Color me confused.