In case you missed it, NBC’s newest reality show Stars Earn Stripes debuted last night, and it honors our military personnel by teaching the American public that war is basically “kind of like a real-life action movie or video game,” as one contestant puts it. The show features eight D-list celebrities paired up with “military and law enforcement veterans, including a Green Beret, a SWAT officer, two Marine sergeants, a retired member of the Delta Force and two Navy SEALs,” or, as NBC tastefully calls them, “Bad Ass Operatives.”
It’s basically Dancing with the Stars, except here, as contestant Picabo Street describes it, the stars get to “shoot at something and have it go BOOM!” Naturally, the co-hosts of the show are Gen. Wesley Clark and former Dancing with the Stars host Samantha Harris.
But lest you think this show might be disrespectful to the people who are, you know, actually risking their lives for our country or the civilians who have actually died in the cross-fire, don’t worry. The stars trip over themselves to show their respect for the troops, and all winnings go to a military-themed charity, so you don’t need to feel guilty for cheering when Nick Lachey jumps from a helicopter. Sorry, wait, allow us to back up for a moment. All of the contestants’ winnings go to charity. All of NBC’s winnings still go in the network’s pockets. But hey, who cares when we’re blowing stuff up!! Yay war!! (Shockingly, Archbishop Desmond Tutu and eight other Nobel Peace Prize laureates seem to think this war-o-tainment is not particularly conducive to the peace process and have called upon NBC to pull the show. You can sign the petition here.)
So, how realistic is the show? So real that contestant Dean Cain appears to lose a grip on the fact that reality television is not actually real. Two of our favorite Cain quotes:
“This is not a joke. I know there’s a chance I could die.” No, Dean. No, there’s not. We promise you, NBC is not going to let you die. The only person in the history of reality television who has actually died while taping is the Crocodile Hunter, as far as we’re aware. You’re not chasing sting rays, so you should be cool. (Later in the first episode another contestant has a hard time swimming with his heavy equipment. An NBC jet ski comes and picks him up.)
“We go on real missions. We receive real training. We go with real live fire.” Oh man, can you imagine how psyched Dean will be when he learns they get to have real legs blown off with real IEDs, too?? Wait, what? Is that not happening on this show?
Remember when a war was something all people dreaded? When it was the absolute worst thing a generation could experience as a whole? When the terror of the battlefield resonated in the minds and hearts of every civilian back home, fearing for their loved ones, hoping they would return from that nightmarish hellscape in one piece?
Why the fuck is war turning into celebrity fodder? Seriously; what the fuck have we come to if a warzone and the men and women fighting and dying in it are being slapped into the same level as a football field and its athletes?
Americans no longer have any fucking clue what a war is. It’s just another ‘thing.’ Just another part of life. Birds fly, celebrities drunk drive, baseball games get played, soldiers die in a god-forsaken desert, McDonalds sells Big Macs, etc etc etc.