Wednesday, 13 July 2011

Hollywood actors, BBC push military agenda

BBC Newsbeat - YouTube marine gets date with Hollywood star Mila Kunis

The BBC's Dan Whitworth reports on a typical story, the upshot of which is to humanise the military and the ongoing occupation of Afghanistan with the same brush:
Hollywood actress Mila Kunis has said she will go on a date with a US Marine sergeant who asked her out on YouTube.
The star of Black Swan was being interviewed along with Friends With Benefits co-star Justin Timberlake when she was shown the clip.
In it Sgt Scott Moore asked her to be his date for the Marine Corps Ball in November. He is currently serving with 3rd Battalion 2nd Marines in Afghanistan. In the video he introduces himself as Sergeant Moore but says she can call him Scotty.
Walking through a heavily-fortified compound with shaved head, glasses and in full combat gear he looked into a friend's video camera and addressed her directly.
"I just want to take a moment out of my day to invite you to the Marine Corps Ball on 18 November in Greenville, North Carolina, with yours truly," he said.
The 27-year-old actress was surprised at first but then asked for details. That's when Justin Timberlake stepped in. "Have you seen this? Have you heard about this? You need to do it for your country."
The conflation of patriotism with support for wars of aggression is routine, with Hollywood starlets often proving among the most effective purveyors of such overt propaganda. Here the idea that a man in military uniform is an object of desire is reinforced, underpinning the legitimacy of the army and its current campaigns as well as humanising the troops on the ground. This justifies the ongoing NATO presence in Afghanistan, glossing over the fact that foreign troops such as Sgt. Moore are party to an ongoing military occupation that has left tens of thousands dead and wounded, and under which Afghan civilians are massacred with impunity.

By portraying soldiers as sentient, caring people with normal lives, the army "softens" its image, assuaging the fears of those who may have resisted recruitment for fear of being subsumed into a culture of unending violence and bravado and showing the wider public that soldiers 'are just people like you and me'. Media outlets such as the BBC, entirely supportive of the Afghanistan war from the outset, are necessary disseminators of the party line.

This lays the groundwork for deflecting potential future criticism of the military: if the army is seen as a regimented order of faceless automatons following orders or confronting the consequences (an accurate picture) then the institution leaves itself open to reproach, as much for subjugating the will of its constituent parts as for the atrocities it commits in other lands.

However, if the military is comprised of carefree, happy people who like football and hip hop then what's the problem? They're out there of their own volition, fighting for the freedoms we all take for granted back in Britain, right?

Encouraging the public to identify on a personal level with the people in the military is encouraging them to identify with the calculated, destructive, illegal campaigns being waged in the Afghanistans and Libyas of this world. These conflicts and the misery they export would not be possible were it not for the acquiescence and direct participation of thousands of people like Sergeant Scott Moore.

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