If you sat through the two-hour debut of NBC’s “Stars Earn Stripes” on Monday, you heard the promotion for next week’s show: “They barely survived the first week!” And you thought to yourself: “Uh, no, that was me.”
What intolerable filth! In this “reality” show, “celebrities” we’ve mostly never heard of are paired off with current or former members of the U.S. military to “play” at “missions reminiscent of counterinsurgencies that have taken place all over the world.” It’s war for fun. This sport has all the excitement of golf, but without the same level of danger. Nobody “barely survived.” Nobody killed anybody. Nobody’s suffering moral anguish from what they’ve seen and done. Nobody’s lost any limbs. And nobody’s a suicide risk, with the possible exception of the producer.
Just prior to the show’s debut, nine Nobel Peace Prize laureates, not including the one whose “counterinsurgencies” the show reenacts, released a statement demanding the show’s removal from the air:
“Real war is down in the dirt deadly. People — military and civilians — die in ways that are anything but entertaining. Communities and societies are ripped apart in armed conflict and the aftermath can be as deadly as the war itself as simmering animosities are unleashed in horrific spirals of violence. War, whether relatively short-lived or going on for decades as in too many parts of the world, leaves deep scars that can take generations to overcome – if ever. Trying to somehow sanitize war by likening it to an athletic competition further calls into question the morality and ethics of linking the military anywhere with the entertainment industry in barely veiled efforts to make war and its multitudinous costs more palatable to the public.”
In other words, we’re dealing here with the crime of war propaganda, not for any particular war, but for the normalization of eternal war on the borders of the empire.
A crowd protested the show at NBC headquarters in New York on Monday evening, chanting “Shame, Shame, War is not a Game,” and delivering a petition bearing thousands of signatures.