Friday, January 04, 2008

Citizen Soldiers

During the break I saw a bunch of movies in theatres, and each one was preceded by a trailer for the National Guard called "Citizen Soldier," a new song from the group 3 Doors Down. Since recruiting efforts have ebbed to their lowest percentages in recent memory, AWOL rates have climbed to their highest numbers in 40 years, and guardspeople have been forced to serve double tours of duty, there has been a concerted effort to redefine recruitment.

Check out this slick video and ask yourself who it's aimed at? Who is the "hero" in the video's narrative? How are sports used here (and to sell war in general)? What historical episodes does the video highlight? Is there any racial tokenism present? What messages (secret and otherwise) does the video contain?

Here are the lyrics if you'd care to read them:

Beyond the boundaries of your city's lights.
Stand the heroes waiting for your cries.
So many times you did not bring this on yourself.
When the moment finally comes, I'll be there to help.
And on that day, when you need your brothers and sisters to care.
I'll be right here.

Citizen soldiers.
Holding the light for the ones that we guide from the dark of despair.
Standing on guard for the ones that we've sheltered.
We'll always be ready because we will always be there.
When there are people crying in the streets.
When they're starving for a meal to eat.
When they simply need a place to make their beds.
Right here underneath my wing, you can rest your head.

On that day, when you need your brothers and sisters to care.
I'll be right here.

Hope and pray, that you never need me.
The rest assured I will not let you down.
I walk beside you, but you may not see me.
The strongest among you may not wear a crown.
On the day when you need your brothers and sisters to care.
I'll be right here.
On that day when you don't have strength for the burden you bear.
I'll be right here.


Maseeh M said...

I also noticed the "citizens soldier" thing when I saw a couple of movies this break. It is long and excessive, and seems to go on forever! While overall it's trying to send a positive message(In my opinion), the message is too long and at times a little comical when switching back and forth from 18th century soldiers to 3 doors down. I also thought that they emphasized the glory of the 18th century soldier a bit much, and I think current day soldiers or people who are interested in becoming one don't really take the honor of those people into consideration.

Chris said...

I noticed your use of the word slick to describe the ad, which made me think of the connotation of the word slick. When I think of the word slick, I think of a person who is a cheat, who is dirty, and who you can not trust. I watched the ad, and I was wondering, what about it is slick?

Bolos said...

Dear Chris,

Though I wasn't the person who wrote the original post, I will try to reply using my computer's built in dictionary! Here's probably what Mr OC intended:

(of a thing) superficially impressive or efficient in presentation: the brands are backed by slick advertising.

From our perspective (i.e., people our age), we don't expect anything done by the US Gov't to be "slick" -- meaning, pretty "cool" for something produced by Uncle Sam.

That doesn't mean either of us like it: to me it's so slick it comes off as manipulative of young people, which disturbs me. Make sense now?

Steph said...

I find it very interesting that this movie stats out with a bunch of (very good looking)college kids playing with a football. That in itself is an obvious grabber for the army to attract young kids who maybe are just finishing college, unlike a lot of adds we see today for kids to skip a regular college and go into the military. It seems they are also trying to target kids that play sports or specifically football players (i.e young athletic people). Another thing that I find intersting is the idea of such a hit band as 3 Doors Down endorsing the National Guard. Is this supposed to show that they support the war, or is it just a marketing strategy to show that the band thinks its "cool" to join the army so others will think its cool too?? lastly, I agree with maseeh on the idea of gloryifying the 18th century soldiers. The one thing that stuck out to me was the line "I fired the shot that started a nation". This quote not compares war to the begining of our nation, but it glorifies fighting and violence through guns. So what is the real message this comercial is portraing to America?

Harlesbarkly said...

Ya, i noticed that song when i went to see hitman. My friend commented to me that he thought it was odd how the military was advertising during a film. It then hit me why they choose to advertise in a action pack shoot em up film hitman instead of a movie like the bucket list. They see a target audience that would appeal more to their needs rather then a comedy targeted to older ages. Get em while their young

Josh said...

I laughed out loud while reading this. I think its comical how the army in their catchy song never mentions once any violence or destruction the army can do. Of course their only going to highlight the good parts of being in the army, such as when "people are crying in the streets" or "starving for a meal to eat". This does not sound like actually army work to me! Maybe we can sue the military for false advertising.

Jarvis said...

can i just say that if the text hadn't been added in, i would think that this is an advertisement NOT to join the armed forces. The combination of the song, the pallid scenes, and violent, depressing situations really would dissuade me to join any part of the military. I am actually really confused on why the editors of this video made the decisions they did, and what kind of light they see it in, because i really only can see darkness in the adverstisement

Johnnykins said...

well, i dont know if the editors of the video had this in mind, but its obvious war isnt glorious or easy. If i was the editor of this video i would definitely think it would be necessary to at least touch on the darkness of war in the least realistic/grusome way. I think the violence touches on the reality or war without actually showing grusome scenes. This perhaps instills the g-rated reality of war in the minds of the viewers only to set up the honor and glory one could be capable of if they joined the National Guard. legitimizing the advertisement.

Brandon said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Brandon said...

In class we discussed why certain scenes were chosen over others. The scenes that were shown in the movie were from Hurricane Katrina, World War II, The Revolutionary War, 9/11, and perhaps the Iraqi War. Among all the conflicts that the National Guard has been in as shown by this timeline, excluding the Iraqi War, I felt that the four periods were perhaps the most "glorious" ( that it was either a valiant and supported effort or a great victory) of the ones that the National Guard has participated in. Maybe the Guard is trying to say that if you join, then the "global war on terror" would be as "glorious".

Sara D said...

When we watched it in class I could not hlep but keep paying attention to the football that Mr. O'Connor was talking about. I think that it was a large sign of what an all Americna boy is, sterotypically, supposed to be portrayed as. Along with girlfriends in a educational enviornment. I think the transisitions, then, suggested how it is time for the boy to transition, like a good American, into the national guard. I think overall it was a very interesting ad. What also made me think was why it was so long. Because it was in a movie theater, people are forced to stay because it is not really worth it to leave for the 3 minutes the ad takes. So, as a result, you can pack so much into that three minutes to try and persuade people to join the guard.

Elizabeth L said...

this reminds me of an earlier blog i blogged about on September 30 called "Army Strong? or Army Wrong?"
It speaks to the diversity part of the video. I found it somewhat controversial that they had the standard looking soldier, American blue eyed boy throughout the entire skit.
But recently when I was traveling over break, I noticed three soldiers not all together but throughout the entire trip, whom were in uniform, they all had Hispanic last names; however, I didn't see one hispanic in the video? Compared to the video I talked about in my earlier blog, it showed a black boy recruiting to the army. This National Guard Video expressed heriosm through these young white boys... and why weren't there more women in it? Maybe Hillary Clinton will change that if she is in office.... haha

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