Wednesday, August 15, 2012

War is awesome, dude

There's been a chorus of criticism aimed at NBC’s Stars Earn Stripes, an imbecilic reality show in which celebs "play war" in a series of challenges supposedly drawn from real-life military missions. The Top Guns donate their winnings to charity. Ergo, that makes it okay to glorify the art of killing and blowing shit up on TV. The show deserves to be damned, as does any idolatry of war. Glorifying militarism (along with the slobbering idolization of our servicemen and women since 9/11) is problematic for a host of obvious reasons. Or as H.G. Wells put it, "If we don't end war, war will end us." On the other hand, bowing to Ares or Mars is hardly anything new. It harks back to Sparta at the very least. In our own epoch, what American male hasn't played "war" as a boy? And to be brutally frank, how many moviegoers -- the folks who weren't at Normandy on D-Day -- were horrified but simultaneously thrilled at the opening sequence of Saving Private Ryan? The thirst for combat by those who have never experienced its monstrosity is in the human DNA, I'm sorry to report. This partially explains why we keep killing ourselves en masse for King and Country or Religion. And yet -- despite this latest iteration at exalting armed conflict, the Earth will likely remain on its axis even as its human inhabitants spin off of theirs (again), this time via a dumb reality show. It is always wise to temper the tendency to sing hosannas to war with robust criticism. But let's keep the debate real, shall we?

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