Inquirer Editorial: 'Reality' shows shouldn't trivialize combat

JOHN OVERMYER
JOHN OVERMYER
Posted: August 15, 2012

Crash, boom, bang! Those are the sounds when more-or-less celebrities like actor Dean Cain and Sarah Palin's husband, Todd, are put on teams with trained military personnel to perform on the new TV reality series Stars Earn Stripes.

You see the teams crawling through the mud, shooting automatic rifles, blowing up shacks, and doing whatever else they can think of to supply the noise and visuals they hope watchers will equate with suspense.

The new NBC show, hosted by retired four-star Gen. Wesley Clark, pays "homage to the men and women who serve in the U.S. armed forces and our first-line responder services." At least, that's its promotional line.

But nine Nobel Peace Prize laureates have written an open letter to NBC Entertainment asking it to reconsider airing the program.

"Pretending that war and military training is comparable to athletic competition, or any other violence-based 'reality' show, is an affront to us all and especially those who experience war and its horrific impact," said Jody Williams, who received her Nobel in 1997 for her work to ban land mines.

The Peace Prize winners make a valid point. This country needs to carefully consider how seemingly innocuous violence depicted in the media impacts this country's loathsome homicide rate, which includes mass murders like the recent Batman killings in Colorado.

Some movies and TV shows properly depict war. Real war has casualties. People die. There are no commercial breaks, and the participants don't stop shooting to wipe off sweat and have a Gatorade.

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