Friday, May 27, 2011

Be All You Can Beast

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.


brite said...

The whole idea of protecting 'the stupid' from themselves is as demeaning as it maybe altruistic. It's also a never ending job.

Anonymous said...

I, like most kids that enlist, came from a family that could not support me going to college, I did not have a good relationship with my folks, and I had little opportunities in my hometown other than getting some girl pregnant and working a dead end job. The military offered me structure, job training, a chance to see parts of the world most people just read in books, and do stuff I never thought possible. A lot better than restocking at the local ACME. I didn't exactly enjoy it, hence I only did one enlistment, but even with the worst aspects of it, I would do it again in a heartbeat because honestly...I was a shithead teenager who had no clue what he wanted to do in life.

The recruiting commercials played no role in my decision honestly. Sort of like commercials for airlines, do people chose their flights solely on some funny ad? I got to non military people honestly think we are all fucking morons?

Chez said...


Izar Talon said...

OK, he spelled Zuul wrong, now I'm pissed. You don't dis Ghostbusters around me and live.

But seriously, what the fuck? He's basically taking the anti-D&D crusade's approach to ALL forms of entertainment, saying that people can't tell the difference between fantasy and reality. And I already went through THAT shit.

He gonna go join up with Jack Chick and write some tracts about this bullshit? Cause that's the direction he's heading.

The Imp of the Perverse said...

OK, I'm a little confused.

In this post from a couple of days ago -- --

you're supporting the argument that a great many people, maybe millions of them, are persuaded to vote a certain way because of a fantasy propagated by a television channel.

But if someone else suggests that people might be persuaded to enlist in the military by a fantasy propagated by films and television, you call him "stupid."

I don't get it.

What's the difference between military reruiting commercials and Fox News? Seems to me that they use the same techniques, and towards the same ends.

Chez said...

Wait a minute, you really can't see the difference between something being sold as news and information -- as truth -- and something being sold as fantasy? Really?

I appreciate your taking the time to comment, honestly, but that's not even worth an explanation.

The Imp of the Perverse said...

Please point me in the direction of a commercial for the armed services that is "sold as fantasy."

Chez said...

That took me about 30 seconds. Now please do yourself a favor and stop. As I said, there's a mammoth difference between casting something as genuine news and information (people have a tendency to react to that sort of thing since they see it as the truth) and doing what's obviously a fantasized conception of warfare (which only an idiot would think is real).

Tuba Terry said...

I joined the Marine Corps to play a tuba. There's no way any of those commercials fit me in the slightest. I second the first Anonymous post too - the commercials were cool, but not even the stupidest enlistee confuses them with real life. Besides, even the shadiest recruiter isn't dumb enough to tell some kid "yeah, it'll be just like the commercial".

Mart said...

We need a draft and no more contractors. Lower middle class and poor families should not bear nearly all of the burden of war alone. Start picking off daddy's little girl at University to drive a truck in Afghanistan and these mindless endless wars would be over in a heartbeat. And military flyovers at NFL and college football games, Sprint car sponsorship and fantasy movie tie-ins and all the rest of the rot would be moot.