As if whizzing bullets and mortar bombs were not enough of a headache for the troops in Iraq and Afghanistan, now the American Forces Network has begun to use the soldiers’ time-off from the field to educate them about life lessons, according to the Wall Street Journal. (subscription required)
“’Sometimes we all go a little overboard at the mall,’ the announcer intones emphatically in one spot. ‘But understanding the difference between an occasional splurge and a serious spending problem is important for financial well-being,’” the article quotes.
I am not a soldier, nor ever plan to be, but the idea of having a television commercial try to teach me about mall spending while I recuperate from field duty would not only infuriate me, but offend me as well.
The AFN can not run commercials for the troops. In a 30 minute show, seven minutes are usually dedicated to commercials, so AFN fills that time with simple life training. Some are fine because they would commonly air on commercials in the United States, like the dangers of drunk driving. Other spots, GIs just may enjoy, like when the Orlando Magic cheerleaders teach the basics of warming up before a work-out. Still it sounds like many of the T.V. fillers are just tedious, like one that teaches leathernecks how to keep a safe kitchen while at home.
But why do the T.V shows have to run in 30 minute segments? I have taken many flights, where the television has a sitcom airing. It does not have commercials, nor does it teach me about the importance of wearing a helmet while riding a motorcycle. If CBS can do that for American Airlines, I am sure they can do the same for the AFN network.
I know military life tends to be regimented, but does the T.V. need the same structure? I doubt it. So instead of trying to convince the troops not to use dip or chewing tobacco, can we please get them some television without these condescending ads? Let them truly enjoy their time off, and give them a chance to try and forget about, for 23 minutes at least, the war they are stuck in.