NBC’s Stars Earn Stripes, a reality competition show in which “stars” ranging from Todd Palin to Nick Lachey complete challenges theoretically drawn from military missions and raise money for military charities when they win, was always going to attract some raised eyebrows. Whether it was the show’s contribution to the growing Palin family reality empire, the involvement of an apparently severely underly-employed Gen. Wesley Clark, or the late-summer cheesiness of the concept, Stars Earn Stripes is perfectly engineered to win news cycles if not fans. But I don’t think NBC anticipated this latest twist: Archbishop Desmond Tutu and a number of other Nobel Laureates have published an open letter to NBC president Bob Greenblatt (who in between this and Sharon Osbourn’s accusations of discrimination is not having a great start to this season) and other executives involved with the show, calling Stars Earn Stripes an ugly glorification of war.
I don’t entirely agree with Tutu and his esteemed company: Stars Earn Stripes doesn’t make it look exciting or fun to fire on live targets, or to expose yourself to real risk. The show is marked by a patent phoniness, whether it’s the cheerful blue and red plastic targets and paint used to mark competitors’ courses, the hay bales that simulate houses, the command center General Clark hosts from that looks like it was sold off the lot of a canceled science fiction show, and the corny, B-movie explosions. This is a rich man’s paintball course, not an effective tool for convincing people to kill in their country’s service. The signatories are right when they say that “Real war is down in the dirt deadly. People - military and civilians - die in ways that are anything but entertaining.” And the show doesn’t actually make entertainment out of those deaths.
I'm not going to watch this show because I think the concept is utterly disgusting. They can hide behind "support the troops" all they want, it's just another phony "reality" show that's relatively cheap to make that glorifies war. Wanta make it more real? Live return fire and real AP explosions. Let's see what a hero Todd Palin is with his arms and legs and face blown off and his guts hanging out and screaming for his mother like a real wounded soldier. Yeah, right. Can't do that because folks would see what war is really like and they might not support endless needless war any more.
Actually, I think me'n Fixer could make this show a lot more interesting. Fixer could channel these clowns in creative ways with carefully placed explosions from IEDs to Claymores to Bouncing Bettys to Schu mines and funnel 'em into a ditch lined with det cord. Nothing new, I saw it in a movie. Then when they're blown into the air we'll see how long I can keep 'em spinning with rifle fire.
To make it even better, scrap the washed-up showbiz and wannabe-hero types and replace them with Repug "heroes" who support war and who never served. That is must-see TV!