Saturday, July 26, 2008

A message about AFN from Walt Flanagan

Adrienne Carey Hurley: A message about AFN from Walt Flanagan


I don't know if you are familiar with Armed Forces Network (AFN) but its basically a series of government-owned TV channels that broadcast American programming. Sometimes the shows are surprisingly good (The Simpsons) and sometimes terrible (Hope and Faith). But always there are the commercials. Since AFN doesn't sell ad time to companies selling stuff they instead fill them with military-oriented Public Service Announcements. I have noticed some themes. The commercials seem to fall in to a few categories:

1. Celebrities are proud of soldiers- In these commercials, poorly-lit celebrities like Tim McGraw, Toby Keith, and Lance Armstrong read badly from cue cards to tell us to "stay army" and inform us that we are "heroes"
2. Don't beat your wife and children- basically that says it all, but not enough for Uncle Sam, so these PSAs run all the time.
3. Don't rape people- perhaps the most prevalent genre of PSAs on AFN, they outline all of the judicial punishments soldiers receive for sex crimes. It is alarming how many times they feel the need to tell us that this behavior is wrong. Do we not know?
4. Commercials for black soldiers- these commercials are a sub-genre of the others. Basically, there is a black version of every PSA. These are easily identified by the presence of elevator hip-hop music and themes such as "Do the right thing". Apparently the army believes that telling black soldiers to drive safely isn't enough. It needs to be done by men in a stereotypically "urban" barber shop. Also in all AFN PSAs people of different ethnicities almost never interact unless it is about how to bring your "foreign national" wife or adopted child back into the states.
5. Drive safely- The usual advice on driving sober and not taking chances all spewed out by a terribly annoying warrant officer.
6. Look how tough we are- these PSAs use unlicensed music from the likes of the Raconteurs, White Stripes, Korn and many other bands to show training and combat footage so everyone will remember that 1st Armored Division is "Iron Strong" or that some brigade is good at kicking in doors.