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“Stars Earn Stripes” misses on every level

“Stars Earn Stripes” misses on every level

From The Rev. Susan Russell’s own admission in the Huffington Post, watching Olympic commercials with her must not have been fun…

Russell fumed as NBC heavily promoted their new show Stars Earn Stripes, turning simulated combat into a game show so that the star participants can compete to win yet another reality television show, “appreciate” the work of soldiers, and earn NBC viewer ratings.

Russell notes that nine Nobel Peace Prize winners signed a letter upset with the show: Desmond Tutu, Jody Williams, Mairead Maguire, Shirin Ebadi, Jose Ramos-Horta, Adolfo Perez Esquivel, Oscar Arias Sanchez, Rigoberta Menchu Tum and Betty Williams.

“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.”

Russell rejects NBC’s explaination that their show is not a glorification of war, but a glorification of service:

There’s a difference between understanding war as a regrettably necessary option and exploiting war for mid-season ratings. And that’s where I put my second hat on.

The second one is my “mother of an Army veteran, Blackhawk helicopter crew chief who served a 15-month stint in Iraq and two special-ops deployments in Afghanistan, don’t you DARE trivialize the lives and sacrifices of our troops still in harm’s way by reducing their service to a glorified game show” hat.

Enough is enough. And so — with both of my Anti-War/Pro-Vets hats firmly in place and in the fine company of nine Nobel Peace Prize winners — this anti-war/pro-veteran mom is calling on NBC to be ashamed of themselves.

You “thank young Americans in harm’s way” by working to end war — not by glorifying it. And you “glorify service” by rewarding their sacrifice with health, education and employment benefits that serve our veterans — not by exploiting their sacrifice with a game show that benefits your stockholders.


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I’m also disturbed by the association of war with games/entertainment…it strikes me as one long recruiting commercial.

The relentless militarization of our country, in which the poor are the resource for recruits, is disturbing in the extreme. It confirms violence as a credible tool to resolve problems and/or influence politics.

The network news broadcasts lament the increase in violence on the nightly news, then the network offers it up as entertainment later.

Kevin McGrane


Thanks for posting this … clearly an issue that struck home for me personally as well as theologically.

As for whether it’ll make a difference that’s where my ongoing commitment to the Gospel According to Margaret Mead comes in: “Never doubt that a small group of faithful, committed people can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.”

Susan Russell

Diocese of Los Angeles

Bill Dilworth

I wish I thought that TV executives were likely to be swayed by appeals to reason or morality, but God bless people who try.

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