'There's Nothing Like A Dame' from South Pacific

In the beginning of May, the US Army released a series of recruitment ads called "The Calling," featuring the stories of actual people who have joined the Army, explaining why they felt "called" to do so.

And conservatives have not been very happy about it, on account of the fact that those people and their stories are not macho enough for their liking. Specifically, they have been very upset about a particular video featuring Air Defense Enhanced Early Warning System Operator Cpl. Emma Malonelord — who talks about how she was raised by two moms who got married after one was in a car accident and taught herself to walk again even though doctors thought she would be paralyzed for life, how she marched for marriage equality as a kid, saying she'd been "defending freedom" from an early age, went to college, and joined the Army afterwards.

EMMA | THE CALLING | GOARMY www.youtube.com



It is very likely a more uplifting story than a lot of "Why I joined the Army" stories. Because not all, but a significant amount of those stories are going to be from people who had to join the military for economic reasons. You know, because they needed money for school, because they needed health care, because they needed the kinds of things that are subsidized for everyone in countries that don't spend over half of their total discretionary spending and 15 percent of all federal spending on the military.

The US spends more on defense than the next ten countries combined.

But conservatives are upset because they feel it is too "woke" and are comparing it to a Russian army recruitment ad featuring a bunch of stoic muscled men, who we can assume were raised by heterosexual parents, getting their heads shaved and doing angry pushups.

Or, as rightwing blogger John Hawkins put it on Twitter, "Russians are building a military focused on killing people and breaking things. We're apparently building a military focused on being capable of explaining microaggressions and critical race theory to Afghan Tribesmen."

Yeah! Killing people! Breaking stuff! Smashing beer cans into their foreheads, probably! Not being women! Apparently rightwingers were so upset about this that the Army ended up turning off comments on the YouTube video because they were going on there and insulting Cpl. Malonelord and other service members appearing in the ads.

Naturally, Ted Cruz, who is very tough and macho, wanted to join in on the fun. "Holy crap," he tweeted, "Perhaps a woke, emasculated military is not the best idea ..."

Now, just to be clear — neither Ted Cruz nor any other conservative knows anything at all about Cpl. Emma Malonelord or how good she is at her military job. She could be amazing, and likely is, given the fact that she was chosen for this ad and put in charge of operating missile defense systems. They mostly just don't like the whole "being a woman" and "having two moms" thing. Her mere existence is too "woke" for them. And by "woke," they really just mean "not explicitly falling into my stereotype of what someone in the Army should be like, from what I have learned from watching G.I. Joe."

Cruz, who could have enlisted at some point in his life but did not, was roundly criticized by many who had. Among the veterans dragging him was Sen. Tammy Duckworth of Illinois, who noted that the American military helped protect him during the January 6 insurrection.

Cruz's response to this was to whine that "blue checkmarks" (which he has as well) were accusing him of attacking the military (which he absolutely was, as Cpl. Malonelord is in fact in the Army) — when what he was really complaining about was that "Dem politicians & woke media are trying to turn them into pansies."

"Pansies." We guess he thought the f-word might get him a Twitter ban.

I'm all for no one joining the Army (or any military branch at all) and find the framing of a job that does in fact involve killing people and breaking things as a fabulous adventure and personal challenge to be deeply unsettling — but if the military is going to have recruitment videos, this is probably the best case scenario.

The thing is, there have always been American military ads geared towards the macho "killing people and breaking stuff!" demographic as well as to the "not necessarily that" demographic. Most of the Army's ads that have been directed at recruiting college graduates seem to have highlighted non-combat positions. Like the people in this commercial from 1981, doing math and stuff instead of "killing people and breaking things."

And hey, here's a fairly direct ad featuring not one single pushup or rope climb, but rather a pitch of "We will give you a monthly stipend, a free place to live and 30 days of paid vacation a year" to a young John Travolta.

And here is another cartoon ad from the olden days featuring a trio of Army men shuffling off to Buffalo while singing about how the Army will give them opportunities to take classes and learn skills (not "kill people and break stuff").

It's almost as if the only problem Ted Cruz and friends have with this particular ad is the fact that it features a woman who grew up with two moms. And if they're that scared of women with lesbian mothers, then perhaps they're not that macho after all.

[Washington Post]

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Robyn Pennacchia

Robyn Pennacchia is a brilliant, fabulously talented and visually stunning angel of a human being, who shrugged off what she is pretty sure would have been a Tony Award-winning career in musical theater in order to write about stuff on the internet. Follow her on Twitter at @RobynElyse

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