Sigmund Fraud, Staff Writer
“Freedom’s just another word for nothing left to lose.” – Kris Kristofferson
The principle battlefield in the war for your mind is public media. In this field of operations, winning hearts and minds is about creating illusions, managing perceptions, and cleverly blurring the lines between life, death and entertainment. The more exaggerated, absurd and over-embellished a claim is, the more volume it has in the crowded mental space of consumer culture.
Enter the United States Navy marketing team.
The Navy recently launched a new TV advertising campaign aimed at convincing would-be recruits and potential re-enlistees to visit their nearest Navy recruiting office to sign-up. The ads say very little, relying instead on powerful imagery, control fantasy and gripping soundtrack to send the message that the Navy is your shield, and since you can’t beat ‘em, maybe it’s better if you join ‘em.
Airing worldwide on TV and the internet, the new campaign uses the Navy’s new motto, “To Get To You, They’d Have to Get Through Us,” replacing the former motto, “A Global Force For Good,” representing a dramatic shift in tone for their public image. The ads grab your attention because they depict a world where Navy personnel and surveillance equipment dominate every inch of the globe, out of an implied necessity to keep us safe.
In the first 30 second spot entitled ‘The Shield‘ the camera is zoomed into the face of a little girl who looks a bit anxious as she holds the hands of her mommy and daddy in front of a high rise office building that looks suspiciously similar to The World Trade Center. As the camera zooms out a downtown scene is revealed in which the young family is found to be at the very center of infinite concentric rings of US Navy personnel in all types of uniforms and professional clothing, decidedly standing watch in protection of these hapless consumers.
From what, exactly, we never learn, although given that the setting is obviously reminiscent of New York City on 9/11, the automatic subconscious implication is that the enemy is terrorism. The closing image in this ad is a drone’s eye view of a city block with this small family standing in the middle of thousands of troops.
Finally the voice over comes in saying to the audience, “To get to you. They’d have to get past us. America’s Navy.” Creepy.
For the first 50 seconds of this one minute spot entitled, Pin Map, the music and sound effects tracks climb in dramatic heroic intensity as a narrative of full spectrum global military and surveillance dominance is revealed. From mountain tops to the depth of the sea, highly armed and well-trained people are there with the big guns ready and waiting to stamp out, presumably, any threat that could possible interrupt our way of life.
Produced to highlight the Navy’s ability to operate around the world, on, above and below the sea, the ad begins with a shot of a giant red military surveillance balloon of sorts, hovering in the clouds over the ocean, and ends with a shot of a world map covered in these red pins, blanketed by drones.
The vocal track finally cuts through the increasing anticipation to say, “Around the clock. In defense of all we hold dear back home. America’s Navy.” Yet, this message is totally incongruent with what you’re watching.
They’re making the claim that the ideals our soldiers hold dear back home require constant protection by total surveillance, unlimited military spending, and total military dominance of every corner of the globe. But the ad shows the opposite of the ideals which many of our soldiers hold dear. The ad depicts a planet completely dominated by the military industrial complex and phony security theatre.
This is doublespeak.
You’re seeing the entire planet being monitored, surveilled and held at gunpoint. Hardly the ideals Americans were taught in grade school. Take a look:
Sure, we all realize it’s ‘just an ad’, and sure we all expect the US military to engage in propaganda and doublespeak to convince more good people to serve, but this ad is an outstanding metaphor for the concept that security and liberty are often far from compatible. For this worried, or terrorized, family of three, physical movement is impossible. They are absolutely smothered by their protection and would endanger themselves just by trying to leave.
This is a terrific visual for a familiar concept… security at the expense of liberty results in the loss of both.
The message in these ads is that the world is so dangerous that we need an omnipresent shoot-to-kill security and surveillance force to protect us from anything and everything, ready to strike anywhere at any moment. This is a lie.
Many have warned us about the dangers of an out of control military industrial complex, including many former US Presidents, and military leaders like Smedley Butler. National security theater is swiftly re-arranging daily life for normal Americans, and as the domestic police state continues to entrench itself in American life, it is to be expected that the clever appeals and propaganda by the military industrial complex will only intensify.
Someone has a vision for the future for this so-called free/democratic country, and it apparently involves lots of uniforms, lots of bullets, and lots of high-tech marketing to make it all seem much cooler than it actually is. If nothing else, these videos should at least spark the realization that there truly is no end to industrialized militarization. Once the notion is firmly entrenched in our minds and in our economy it just keeps festering and growing, there is no end.
A shield might as well be a wall if you’ve no control over it and can’t move beyond it.
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