July 30th, 2012

Playing war on TV & American gun massacres: See the connection?

Seen the ads for the newest reality show, “Stars Earn Stripes,” a dancing with the stars format that pairs celebrities with soldiers (or former soldiers called operatives) testing their “military mettle” with real ammunition? This wacky war-is-fun theme is not going to be buried on TLC, A&E, HGTV or Spike. It’s going to air on NBC produced by Dick Wolf and Mark Burnett, Hollywood men with the midas touch.

I was alerted to the concept by the group StarsEarnStripes.org. Please read their complaint and sign their petition to NBC.

Are we so bloodthirsty that we need people playing war on TV to be satiated? Are GI Joe toys and full-combat video games insufficient? Ironically, the network won’t show real war and how innocents pay the price for deadly attacks by remote control. Rarely do networks show how war ruins families when veterans return with TBI or PTSD. But never is the enterprise of war criticized. Never is it defunded like social programs that prop up the poorest among us.

This show is even sicker given the ostensibly gut-wrenching national experience after the recent Colorado massacre. How many wannabe combat participants are going to play out their own version of this show in the streets with them as the only “star?”

Public massacres by gunfire are nothing new to America. Hell, it happened before in Aurora in 1985. Glorification of using military-grade force that this new show will feature is an open-ended invitation to some Americans to prove their “macho” status (though the Stars show has both men and women players) to the world that wouldn’t listen when they tried to be heard through other, peaceful means.

Often, we are dumb as salt in this country, all in the name of freedom of expression.

Apologists for assault-grade weapons in the aftermath of the Aurora massacre, shilling for the NRA whose intentions are to distract rational people from criticizing guns as the weapon of choice, argue that mentally ill people are the shooters. If only we could identify potential shooters beforehand. Pragmatically, that’s an impossible task. Anybody with access to a weapon has the potential.

And for the good of society, we must resist the temptation to see our neighbors as all potential misfits. Without psychiatric training, snitching on others could lead to a massive surrender of civil rights. It’s the TSA slogan: see something, say something. Yea, but are you certain of what you saw? If not, someone’s liberty might be taken away frivolously.

Here are two predictable results for the NBC show. (1) It will be a ratings hit. (2) Stars Earn Stripes will bring the loonies out of the woodwork. Of course, many innocent people will be killed by a torrent of AK-47 bullets as the shooter emulates a celebrity from the show. But we will pull them out of hiding one-by-one. Now that’s value for your entertainment dollar!

The reason this show concept so infuriates me is that at WBI we are anti-abuse. Abuse is violence. Massacres are public forms of extreme violence. If we accept shows like Stars Earn Stripes without protest, comment or outrage, we will never be able to curb lesser forms of violence like psychological violence in the workplace.

I recommend the recent documentary “Murder By Proxy” to more completely and thoughtfully understand the mind of shooters who commit public massacres and the environments that shape their decisions.


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This entry was posted on Monday, July 30th, 2012 at 3:38 pm and is filed under Commentary by G. Namie, The New America. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

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