August 14, 2012
Stars Earn Stripes or a Glorification of War?
Who doesn’t remember the volleyball scene in Top Gun?
I can recall it with fine detail and I’m certain I’m not alone. Top Gun may not have been a perfectly accurate representation of what military life is like but I’d be willing to bet the film did more for naval aviation than five years of Marine Corps or Navy recruiting posters.
Stars Earn Stripes aired last night on NBC. Hosted by Retired General Wesley Clark, a former Democratic Presidential Candidate and NATO Allied Commander, the show features Hollywood types endure military-ish training all in the name of charity.
Almost immediately the backlash began. Most notably is the letter that nine Nobel Winners wrote to NBC Entertainment Chairman Bob Greenblatt in which they call for the network to shelve the show. “Preparing for war is neither amusing or entertaining,” they write.
"This show is not a glorification of war, but a glorification of service," NBC said in a statement.
BUT it’s for CHARITY many would say. And maybe a young kid watching the show will see Nick Lachey, known more for being the ex-husband of Jessica Simpson, and join the military. Or maybe it will convince some that the millife isn’t for them.
I don’t know if Top Gun got as much heat as Stars Earn Stripes. It’s tough to compare the two – either way it’s the marriage of Hollywood and the realities of war that is ruffling feathers. What do you think? Weigh in ….
Posted by Alisha King at 12:43PM on August 14 2012
As a family living on one of only 2 US training facilities in this country I have to agree that preparing for war is neither amusing or entertaining. The soldiers who arrive here prior to their subsequent deployments are on grueling schedu
les, as are our soldier spouses who train them. 28 day rotations, no weekends. It is dangerous, and people have died. The families of those being trained are preparing for the pain of emotional and physical separation, which can never be replicated in Hollywood. It has been 110 degrees here by 10am, something also not replicated on this show. And these celebrities unlike our soldiers, are not faced with the absolute gripping fear of potentially not returning home to their families in the face of dedication to their Country. As I prepare to mount a plane to attend the funeral and memorial of CSM Kevin Griffin next week, it saddens me that we would ever portray preparation for war as something ‘entertaining’, or that the American public may be led to believe that this show is ‘what it’s all about’. I find the challenge of trying to explain it to our civilian friends difficult enough, but God Bless them they try to understand. Top Gun although glamorized, did a fair job of representing the pain of loss and the danger of what they do, in addition to showing the patriotism and dedication to country by those who serve, even in the face of loss. Top Gun wasn’t funny, it was inspiring. Stars to Stripes is not inspiring. I think the intention to raise money for charity is a wonderful thing, commendable even. But I would much rather those celebrities go visit the wounded, attend a memorial, and sign on the dotted line to serve their country. Then they can tell the world about it. I personally will not be watching the show, I think being part of the reality is enough.
Posted by Annie at 12:21PM on August 14 2012
TopGun was a movie, not billed as “Reality TV”. Even the TV show aspect of it is not what is so utterly offensive. Tom Cruise didn’t do an interview after Top Gun and say that he knew exactly what it was like to crash a plane or lose a team mate. These “stars”, on the other hand, are touting to the cameras that they now know exactly what the sacrifice and service of a military member is. I didn’t realize that having cameras and a full-medical support staff and insurance agents who make sure every activity is supremely safe was what military service was all about. Maybe my husband hasn’t deployed enough times yet, so I just haven’t heard about all these great benefits. Or maybe it’s just that it all cuts too close to home as my friend lies in a hospital bed with missing limbs. After all, the medics could save his life but not his limbs and he doesn’t get to go home after they call a wrap for a day and resume his near perfect Hollywood life.