On the Forbes list of the worst jobs on Earth, I think "George Bush Era Military Recruiter" would be one step behind Assistant Crack Whore for the top (or is it bottom?) spot. I feel bad for them. I do. Honestly. In peacetime the job must be pretty easy – just target poor areas loaded to the gunwales with young men lacking any respectable career opportunities and voila. Now, on the other hand….

How do you sell it under these circumstances? "The Army: Join today, be in Fallujah in 10 weeks (or your money back)!" There's no way to varnish reality, even when pitching enlistment to the bottom 10% of last year's high school seniors: sign up, and you're going to Iraq. Soon. Some people are probably really excited about that, either because they are idealists eager to make a difference or because they want to shoot a brown person in a consequence-free environment. But the numbers indicate that neither of these "selling points" are enough. Time to get creative.

If you've seen a film in theaters anytime in the last couple of years, then I don't need to tell you about the phenomenon of the Five Minute Army Promo Video Masquerading as a Trailer. You know, people decked out in neat-o looking toys (armor! guns! techno doo-dads!) jumping out of other neat-o looking toys (helicopters! tanks! bigger techno doo-dads!) to either shoot or help people (depending on the setting) to the strains of Godsmack. As time passes, the films look increasingly like video games and they have a mysterious tendency to never depict or mention Iraq. Let's go ahead and assume those are not accidents.

I usually don't pay much attention (other than to be a smart ass and yell something like "How's that war working out?" at the end) but when last I visited Ye Old Movies I was literally stunned by what I saw: a National Guard-sponsored music video by 3 Doors Down called "Citizen Soldier." Follow the link to watch it – empty stomach recommended. It's also on YouTube. I actually felt like leaving the theater. Or at least projectile vomiting.

Words don't usually fail me, but…words fail me. Where do I start? The horrendous, generic, "Let's compress it in Pro Tools a few more times" music? The historical inaccuracies? The lyrics, which read like they were written by the hit songwriting team of General Petraeus and Brit Hume? No, let's overlook all of that for a second and focus on the shameless deception involved. Focus on exciting Hollywood films about the Revolution or WWII! Focus on helping people after earthquakes! Do not focus on the fact that you are going directly to Iraq. There, to paraphrase mnftiu, you can help the fuck out of some people.

Does this shit actually work? Let me re-phrase that; do we want a military composed of individuals to whom this would be persuasive? Call me an idealist, but in a more perfect world I don't think people should make the very serious choice to enlist because some horseshit radio rock and people jumping out of helicopters seemed cool. As embarassing as it is that we have Army-sponsored video games and music videos essentially targeting children, I suppose we can take some comfort in the hard truth provided by the numbers – it's still not working. If it was, we wouldn't see the Army relaxing its criminal history and High School diploma requirements to meet its repeatedly-lowered "goals."


  • Actually, what does work? Bribery. $40,000 sounds like a lot of money to someone in debt who makes 1/2 that per year.

    And a free college education if you survive it. Sad that some folks have to sell themselves body and soul just to be out of debt and educated.

  • Oh. And there is no substantive difference between 'crack whore', asst or supervisory level, and the GWB era military recruiter.

  • thank you for reminding me to go check on mnftiu. Best ever.

    I have a couple of students who want to go into the armed forces. One has anger management problems and has to take classes to stay out of juvie. The other one has a very bad speech impediment which almost (but not quite) disguises the fact that he can't read or write and is also LD. OH YEAH.

    Weirdly, nobody else is interested in being in the US armed forces.

    Another amusing thing is that recently all of the students have decided to hate Bush and make random, off-topic comments about it in class all the time. I wonder if this means they're smarter than their parents, but I suspect it really just means that their parents have all finally turned on him as well. Oops.

  • Yet another literary reference comes to mind in answer to your question as to whether we want a military made up of the questionable. In HENRY IV, when Falstaff pulls together a troop of pathetic, bedraggled, half-starved men and shows up to fight, he's chastised for the poor quality of his crew. His cheerfully knowing response:

    Tut, tut, good enough to toss, food for powder, food for powder; they

Comments are closed.