Stars Earn Stripes is a reality television program which premiered on NBC on August 13, 2012.
Produced by Mark Burnett (who also produced Survivor and who is by now intimately connected with most bigwigs in the TV industry, including Jeffrey Katzenberg, Steven Spielberg, Tom Cruise, Oprah Winfrey, Dr. Phil, Christina Aguilera, Martha Stewart, Sarah Palin, Jeff Foxworthy and Donald Trump among others), the series follows a group of celebrities, accompanied by current and former members of the United States Armed Forces and law enforcement, competing in various challenges for charity based off actual training exercises used by the U.S. military. The series is hosted by retired NATO Supreme Allied Commander and former Presidential candidate Wesley Clark and former Dancing with the Stars co-host Samantha Harris. Of working class origins, It should be noted that Briton Mark Burnett’s career in the US has been the American dream come true, so the man is obviously unapologetically in favor of the corporate status quo. His Darwinian and militaristic bent is also manifest in his background: during the Falklands war he served as a section commander in a British parachute regiment.
The co-parent of this excrescence, besides the usual contingent of invisible NBC suits, is Dick Wolf. Richard Anthony “Dick” Wolf (born December 20, 1946) is an American producer, specializing in crime dramas such as Miami Vice and the Law & Order franchise. Throughout his career he has won several awards including an Emmy Award and a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. We frankly expected more from Wolf than a low-down association to span an immoral recruitment poster. What a way to cap a rather distinguished career.—PG
By Joan Wile
How the peace movement got together and forced NBC to cancel abominable new “reality” show, “Stars Earn Stripes” depicting war as fun and games
Did any of you have the fortitude to sit through NBC’s new, erroneously labeled a reality show, “Stars Earn Stripes”? If you did, you would have seen the most chaotic, violent, sleazy, reprehensible program this viewer (who could only stomach half a show) has yet encountered on television. And, that speaks volumes inasmuch as so much of TV is chaotic, violent, sleazy and reprehensible.
Stars Earn Stripes “funeral”: the photo celebrates the cancellation of the show. It was run on The Duffelblog, a site reflecting veterans’ issues and views on politics and culture. Most ex-soldiers thought the show was an insult. In a sarcastic take on the program, The Duffelblog headlined, “NBC Cancels Series, Entire Cast Of ‘Stars Earn Stripes’ Killed In Afghanistan.” It went on, “Hollywood, CA – The entire cast of the the military-themed reality television show Stars Earn Stripes has been killed in Afghanistan, according to a statement released today from NBC. “This is really an unfortunate tragedy,” said NBC Executive Andrew Jacobson. “These stars were trained by real professionals and given lots of fake Hollywood-style action shots.
We thought that it would be fitting for the final assault of the season to take place in Afghanistan on the front lines with no help from their professional instructors.” While many critics accused the show of using excessive special effects with fake explosions and bullets, NBC felt it was necessary to respond and change course in the season finale. “We thought the best way to portray the hardships of being in the military was to use a real setting and a real mission, which is what we did by placing the stars in a real combat scenario. Unfortunately, the stars’ training didn’t cover actual military tactics, but rather focused on what looked cool on TV.”
________________________________________________[cont’d] But, this one takes the cake, because in addition to all those qualities, it was a recruitment commercial in disguise and a resounding slap in the face to all those engaged in and victimized by our current wars in Afghanistan and God knows where else.
Retired Gen. Wesley Clark hosted this show, commanding a motley crew of third-rate “celebrities” including Laila Ali (anti-war hero Mohammad Ali’s daughter) and Sara’s husband, Todd Palin (how he earned the title of celebrity is a mystery). The “celebrities” were pitted against some ex-armed forces and police personnel in a contest in which they had to perform simulated military maneuvers such as killing enemies and blowing up ships using LIVE AMMUNITION. War as fun and games.
The performers all extolled their actions as showing them what it was really like to be in battle. A somewhat immodest claim given that there were no bullets or bombs aimed back at them. Gen. Clark looked pathetic giving orders to shoot and kill to the phony combatants — to think I supported him for President in 2004 because he represented himself as being against war. And, here he was strutting around in what appeared to be a fifth-rate Hollywood piece of propaganda to seduce young people into seeing war as a game and joining up in what would likely ultimately result in their being maimed or worse.
Well, we in the anti-war movement didn’t like it one bit. Luckily, we were forewarned by the endless stream of commercials NBC ran for the show during the Olympic broadcasts and thus had a little heads up to prepare to counteract it, even, we hoped, get it canceled.
A New Jersey mother of a son deployed in Afghanistan who was a member of Military Families Speak Out (MFSO) contacted a New York City MFSO member expressing her alarm about the proposed program. From there, overnight in a flash, a number of peace groups organized a protest campaign at NBC headquarters in 30 Rockefeller Center to begin on the same day as the show’s debut, Aug.13. It was amazing how quickly practically every anti-war organization in New York City came together for this action, a rarity in an often-splintered movement where every group tends to go its own way.
At the same time, David Swanson writer and head of Roots Action and the web site, War Is a Crime, began a petition to NBC, as follows:
“Dear NBC (choke),
Your entertainment show “Stars Earn Stripes” treats war as sport. This does us all a disservice. We ask that you air an in-depth segment showing the reality of civilian victims of recent U.S. wars, on any program, any time in the coming months.”
The petition swiftly went viral, obtaining over 18,000 signatures by the first broadcast and by the fourth and last, over 50,000. See starsearnstripes.org.
A further pressure was created when Jody Willliams, a Nobel Peace Laureate, received an email from the NYC chapter of Code Pink announcing the scheduled protest for Aug. 13. She notified other Peace Laureates, and nine of them, including Archbishop Desmond Tutu, immediately sent a strongly-worded letter to NBC demanding cancellation of the show. In part, the letter read :
“We call upon NBC to stop airing this program that pays homage to no one, and is a massive disservice to those who live and die in armed conflict and suffer its consequences long after the guns of war fall silent.”
The presence of Tutu’s name on the letter sparked a world-wide publicity blitz as thousands of media and press outlets picked up the story.
On Aug. 13, the day of the first broadcast of “Stars Earn Stripes,” approximately 70 of the City’s peacenicks were outside NBC’s studios with signs, barriers and their own anti-war songs continuously sung by the Raging Grannies.
In the three subsequent protests through our final one on Sept. 3 when the last segment was broadcast, we gave the huge petition to an NBC official, had highly compelling street theatre and a model of a drone one-fifth its actual size. We chanted “War Is Not a Game Show” and handed out fliers to people passing by. We did all this under the watchful eyes of at least six security personnel standing nearby. At one point, during the third protest, they tried to barricade us, but one of the protest leaders, Barbara Harris of both Code Pink and the Granny Peace Brigade, succeeded in talking them out of it.
I guess we were pretty effective, because before the fourth airing, NBC announced that it would be the last one. Our protests, David Swanson’s petition, and the Nobel Peace Prize winners’ letter combined to do the trick. Wow, united citizen action CAN work!
Perhaps this will serve as a deterrent to other producers contemplating Rah Rah Let’s Play War shows. More remotely, perhaps it’s the beginning of a renewed, hopefully more effective era of opposition to the war in Afghanistan and elsewhere?
Submitters Website: 222.joanwile.blogspot.com
JOAN WILE — author of newly-published book, GRANDMOTHERS AGAINST THE WAR: GETTING OFF OUR FANNIES AND STANDING UP FOR PEACE (Citadel Press, May 2008 — available at amazon.com and in book stores), which is an account of her founding of the anti-war group, Grandmothers Against the War, who famously were arrested and jailed when they tried to enlist in the military at the Times Square recruitment center. She is a lyricist-composer-singer-musician for TV, cabaret, jingles, theatre, recordings, concerts, movie film scores. Winner, ASCAP POPULAR AWARD, and WESTPORT-WESTON ARTS COUNCIL AWARD FOR MOST PROMISING NEW MUSICAL. Runner-up AMERICAN SONG FESTIVAL AWARD. She’s had 5 musicals produced off- and off-off-Broadway. Joan has received numerous civic awards for her work with the grannies and is listed in Who’s Who in America and all its various spin-offs. She is a grandmother of five.
Online Petition Urges NBC to Cancel ‘Stars Earn Stripes’ for Glorifying War
August 18, 2012 by Brian Anthony Hernandez
An online petition urges NBC to cancel Stars Earn Stripes, a reality television show in which celebrities compete in military training exercises to win money for charities.
“This show makes war a game, and war is anything but a game,” the petition on iPetitions says. “In real war there are no prizes only the hope that you survive to come home to one’s family and friends.”
Stars Earn Stripes premiered Aug. 13 and attracted immediate criticism from Nobel Peace Prize winners, satirical news show host Stephen Colbert, archbishop Desmond Tutu and veterans. They argue the show glamorizes war and does not honor troops.
NBC responded to the uproar: “Stars Earn Stripes is about thanking the young Americans who are in harm’s way every day. This show is not a glorification of war, but a glorification of service.”
The petition has 125 signatures as of Saturday morning, including one from this veteran:
The first episode (watch below) showed celebrities such as actor Dean Cain, singer Nick Lachey, Olympian Picabo Street and WWE wrestler Eve Torres training alongside professionals from the Navy, Marines, New York Police Department and other special operations.
By episode’s end, they were jumping out of helicopters, shooting weapons, completing military-style challenges, while surrounded by a barrage of explosions.
“This is a terrible insult to our Veterans and our active duty Armed Forces,” say the petition, which hopes to get 500 signatures.
Do you think the show gives viewers a good look at what troops do to prepare for war? Or does the show trivialize war for the sake of entertainment?
Let’s keep this award-winning site going!
|Yes, audiences applaud us. But do you?If yes, then buy us a beer. The wingnuts are falling over each other to make donations…to their causes. We, on the other hand, take our left media—the only media that speak for us— for granted. Don’t join that parade, and give today. Every dollar counts.
|Use the DONATE button below or on the sidebar. And do the right thing. Even once a year.|
Use PayPal via the button below.