Donate Today!


 

EMAIL SIGN UP!

 

Popular content

Peace Laureates Call on NBC to Cancel New Show: 'War Isn't Entertainment'

Critics say show promotes an “inglorious tradition of glorifying war and armed violence”

- Common Dreams staff

Nine Nobel Peace Laureates on Monday joined a growing chorus of critics calling on NBC entertainment to cancel the new “reality” show—“Stars Earn Stripes”—saying that “war isn’t entertainment” and challenged NBC’s promotional line that that such a television program would be “pay[ing] homage to the men and women who serve in the U.S. Armed Forces and our first-line responder services.”

The show, co-hosted by retired US General Wesley Clark and promoted heavily by NBC during its Summer Olympics telecast is scheduled to begin Monday night and stars actor Dean Cain, “The Biggest Loser” trainer Dolvett Quince, former WWE champion Eva Torres, former boxer Laila Ali, singer Nick Lachey, former Olympic gold medallist Picabo Street, actor Terri Crews, and Sarah Palin’s husband Todd.

The laureates—who include Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Jody Williams and President Oscar Arias Sanchez—issued an open letter to the Chairman of NBC Entertainment, as well as General Wesley Clark and others involved in what other critics of the show's concept have billed as "war-o-tainment."

The Nobel Peace Prize Laureates, all of whom won their prizes for their contributions to ending violence and creating more peaceful and democratic societies, note that real war is “down in the dirt deadly,” and should not be sanitized for a “reality” TV show.

Their letter adds:

People—military and civilians—die in ways that are anything but entertaining.  Communities and societies are ripped apart in armed conflict and the aftermath can be as deadly as the war itself as simmering animosities are unleashed in horrific spirals of violence.  War, whether relatively short-lived or going on for decades as in too many parts of the world, leaves deep scars that can take generations to overcome – if ever.

Trying to somehow sanitize war by likening it to an athletic competition further calls into question the morality and ethics of linking the military anywhere with the entertainment industry in barely veiled efforts to make war and its multitudinous costs more palatable to the public.

Other anti-war groups, including Peace Action West and RootsAction, previously initiated an online petition drive to draw attention to the new show and also called on NBC executives to cancel the series.

"In the United States," said RootsAction in statement, "our tax dollars are spent by the billions each year marketing the idea that war is a sport and associating the military with sporting events.  Media companies like NBC are complicit in the propaganda.

The group also pointed out that sanitizing war for a primetime cable show is a profitable business for at least one of NBC's parent companies, General Electric. "GE is a big weapons manufacturer," the group said, and having "a retired general hosting a war-o-tainment show is another step in the normalization of permanent war."

Peace Action West was incredulous when they learned of the program, asking "How could a major network have a “reality” show glorifying war, engaging “stars” with veterans in military “games” for fun, while a war that has been going on for over ten years marches on in Afghanistan?"

Salon.com blogger Glenn Greenwald comments that overall the show is "so sleazy, repulsive and propagandistic" as to be self-evident, but does find one redeeming aspect as it relates to NBC, saying "here we have a major television network finally being relatively candid about the fact that they view war and militarism, first and foremost, as a source of entertainment and profit."

*  *  *

A preview of the "Stars Earns Stripes" released by NBC:

*  *  *

The full letter from the nine Nobel Peace Prize Laureates here:

War Isn't Entertainment and Shouldn't Be Treated Like It Is

An Open Letter to Mr. Robert Greenblatt, Chairman of NBC Entertainment, General Wesley Clark (ret.), Producer Mark Burnett and others involved in “Stars Earn Stripes”:

During the Olympics, touted as a time for comity and peace among nations, millions first learned that NBC would be premiering a new “reality” TV show.  The commercials announcing “Stars Earn Stripes” were shown seemingly endlessly throughout the athletic competition, noting that its premier would be Monday, August 13, following the end of the Olympic games.

That might seem innocuous since spectacular, high budget sporting events of all types are regular venues for airing new products, televisions shows and movies.  But “Stars Earn Stripes” is not just another reality show.  Hosted by retired four-star general Wesley Clark, the program pairs minor celebrities with US military personnel and puts them through simulated military training, including some live fire drills and helicopter drops.  The official NBC website for the show touts “the fast-paced competition” as “pay[ing] homage to the men and women who serve in the U.S. Armed Forces and our first-responder services.”

It is our belief that this program pays homage to no one anywhere and continues and expands on an inglorious tradition of glorifying war and armed violence.  Military training is not to be compared, subtly or otherwise, with athletic competition by showing commercials throughout the Olympics.  Preparing for war is neither amusing nor entertaining.

Real war is down in the dirt deadly.  People—military and civilians—die in ways that are anything but entertaining.  Communities and societies are ripped apart in armed conflict and the aftermath can be as deadly as the war itself as simmering animosities are unleashed in horrific spirals of violence.  War, whether relatively short-lived or going on for decades as in too many parts of the world, leaves deep scars that can take generations to overcome – if ever.

Trying to somehow sanitize war by likening it to an athletic competition further calls into question the morality and ethics of linking the military anywhere with the entertainment industry in barely veiled efforts to make war and its multitudinous costs more palatable to the public.

The long history of collaboration between militaries and civilian media and entertainment—and not just in the United States—appears to be getting murkier and in many ways more threatening to efforts to resolve our common problems through nonviolent means.  Active-duty soldiers already perform in Hollywood movies, “embedded” media ride with soldier in combat situations, and now NBC is working with the military to attempt to turn deadly military training into a sanitized “reality” TV show that reveals absolutely nothing of the reality of being a soldier in war or the consequences of war.  What is next?

As people who have seen too many faces of armed conflict and violence and who have worked for decades to try to stop the seemingly unending march toward the increased militarization of societies and the desensitization of people to the realities and consequences of war, we add our voices and our support to those protesting “Stars Earn Stripes.”  We too call upon NBC stop airing this program that pays homage to no one, and is a massive disservice to those who live and die in armed conflict and suffer its consequences long after the guns of war fall silent.

Sincerely,

Jody Williams, Nobel Peace Prize, 1997

Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Nobel Peace Prize, 1984

Mairead Maguire, Nobel Peace Prize, 1977

Dr. Shirin Ebadi, Nobel Peace Prize, 2003

President José Ramos-Horta, Nobel Peace Prize, 1996

Adolfo Pérez Esquivel, Nobel Peace Prize, 1980

President Oscar Arias Sanchez, Nobel Peace Prize, 1987

Rigoberta Menchú Tum, 1992

#  #  #

Comments

Note: Disqus 2012 is best viewed on an up to date browser. Click here for information. Instructions for how to sign up to comment can be viewed here. Our Comment Policy can be viewed here. Please follow the guidelines. Note to Readers: Spam Filter May Capture Legitimate Comments...