Oliver Willis recently called David Sirota "serially stupid," and while I've never been a huge fan of Sirota's it's only now that I'm really, really starting to agree with that assessment. In today's Salon, Sirota -- who's one-third of the professional left Supremes, along with the equally diva-ish Glenn Greenwald and Jane Hamsher -- bylines not one but two pieces decrying advertising's influence on our culture (influence in the wrong direction, it should be noted; if the ads in question were encouraging people to recycle, I get the feeling Sirota wouldn't be quite as indignant). In one piece, he targets a tried and true boogeyman for the perpetually outraged: advertising aimed in the direction of kids, that uses characters like Ronald McDonald to ostensibly indoctrinate children into the wonderful world of food that's really crappy for you. This I actually don't take too much issue with; while I think it's wrong to punish everyone for the excesses of a few, a good argument can be made that Ronald McDonald exists as nothing more than a cynical marketing tool fired right at the pleasure center of a child's brain. Fair enough.
But his second column just veers off into heretofore uncharted regions of ridiculousness. It's one thing to argue that ads targeting children are a shot below the belt -- but it's another thing entirely to say that adults or late-teens can't make the distinction between what's real in an advertisement and what's complete bullshit. Sirota has a bone to pick with the fact that the U.S. Army is tying itself to the promotion of X Men: First Class to make it appear in ads as if -- please swallow whatever you're drinking now -- joining the military gives you mutant-like superpowers. Sirota calls the move "dangerous" and uses what he believes is the questionable and dishonest history of military advertising (read: propaganda) as his jumping off point:
"You may recall that in recent years, the Military-Entertainment Complex has been selling kids on the idea that military service is a gloriously fun adventure. In one famous ad, the Marines pretend being a soldier is the equivalent of being a 'Lord of the Rings' hero crossing bridges over mystically infinite gorges -- and slaying fiery monsters along the way. In another series of ads aired as previews in movie theaters, the Air Force portrays dangerous front-line missions as glorified video games, telling kids: "It's not science fiction -- it's what we do every day."
Never mind the claim that these ads were aimed at children -- they were only if you use the loosest possible definition of what a kid is. What they were aimed at is the exact demographic the military would likely pitch to -- late teens -- as well as our country's most exponentially increasing generation: "adult" men who behave as if they're still teenagers. Each of these groups has the ability to think for itself and -- unlike those in their formative years being targeted by fast food icons and "Joe Camel" -- has ample access to images of the true horrors of war. And no, a Pentagon moratorium on photos of incoming dead bodies from Iraq or Afghanistan doesn't do a damn thing to stand in the way of anyone with half a brain in his or her head fully understanding the true nature of armed conflict. To claim that an adult or someone on the verge of becoming an adult is incapable of making up his mind and should be protected from himself is such a laughably predictable liberal conceit.
No, only a fucking retard is going to think that strapping on the gear of a U.S. soldier makes him Magneto.
But then again, Sirota has become somewhat legendary for conspiratorially seeing creeping right-wing influence everywhere he looks. This is a guy, after all, who blames our current political climate on Ghostbusters. Think I'm kidding?
Sirota's gotta be saying this stuff just to get attention, otherwise Oliver Willis couldn't be more right -- he really is just that stupid.