“The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.” ~ Franklin D. Roosevelt
“To him who is in fear everything rustles.” ~ Sophocles
“We fear things in proportion to our ignorance of them.” ~ Christian Nestell Bovee
Okay, I’ve decided to finally try to capture the true nature and extent of the Commercially Induced Culture of Fear that the military has created and under which it seems to thrive overseas when they hold the monopoly on most, if not all things media.
I’m talking about the commercials on Armed Forces Network (AFN). Well, actually they should be more appropriately called Public Service Announcements.
But then again, they are none of those things.
They are crafted not for the public, but for what I can only assume is us, the people our leadership considers wholly mindless, relatively incapable, and quite immature military servicemembers and dependents on the island. Sorry contractors – you fall somewhere in that mix as well, although you are generally compensated much more appropriately to endure this pain and suffering..
The only “service” from these PSA’s is in a nostalgic, prison-influenced characterization of “time-served” once removed from Okinawa and it’s falsely created, media-limited bubble. Any prudent, normalized American would and could only assume such attempts at brain-washing and behavioral control would be attempted on, say, designated political deviants in a gulag of the ex-USSR…or within Camp X-Ray of GTMO in 2003.
And finally, announcement is defined by Google as “a public and typically formal statement about a fact, occurrence, or intention.” Okay, we’ve already talked about intentions (see brain-washing and behavioral control above, if you need reminded, which the military would assume given that you are mindless and incapable on your own), and while the barebones facts of the content making up this propaganda in many cases are sound, they are projected or extrapolated into occurrences which, in one way or another, will kill you….
So, I’ve taken notes on the commercials I heard yesterday. Now, remember, this is for one day and one day only. It does encompass scanning back and forth between the one AM and one FM station available here. But it’s even better than that: it’s for only that time in one day when I was in my car. Which is, basically, a trip or two to a store and/or the commissary, a trip to the gym, perhaps a dive shop or two, and finally a relatively long detour to a different exit from the base due to an accident and massive traffic backup…. But still probably no more than 90 minutes. Check this out and tell me I’m not over-reacting:
- Vaccines. Get your dang adult vaccines or HPV, Tetanus, Shingles and Whopping Cough will kill you, your family, and your friends. Okay, I’ll give the military this: Tetanus is a killer, and HPV can cause cancer…which is a killer. BUT, being in or associated with the military here on Okinawa, we all are screen for and required to get vaccines (see Always Listen to your Momma)! So what’s the point??
- FDIC. Yes, without the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, your money isn’t safe, and ultimately you will die. Except this time poor and destitute.
- Water Safety. Swimming and/or water sports can result in drowning…which will kill you. If you gave in to the warnings, you wouldn’t even look at the water with any sense of longing or excitement.
- Finances. If you don’t plan well, you run out of time to build a retirement and then you die. Poor once again. Imagine if you ignored financial planning AND blew off the FDIC. Surely a sign of the End of Days.
- Emergency Room. The order cases are taken are based on triage (who doesn’t know this??), so don’t forget that unless you are dying, you’ll have to wait….
- Tours. Okay, there was something helpful about upcoming tours offered by the Air Force and Marine Corps. But seriously, a 30 minute radio show? The radio personalities on AFN barely know how to operate the former, and lack the latter.
- Integrity. Dirt-bag airmen will in some bizarre linkage of unintended consequences, you guessed it, kill you. Something about “resilient airmen,” whatever that means, although it suspiciously seems connected with all the highly flexing yoga I see the Air Force doing at the base gym.
- Heroes. An interesting snippet on General Marshall, of “Marshall Plan” fame. I’ve tried, but I don’t see much chance of dying from this one. Although the piece does tie him to setting the state for the European Union, which may in the coming hears lead to the deaths of a number of national economies.
- Terror. Yes, terrorists will kill you. Even though Okinawa is, factually, the safest place I’ve live and will ever live, we are led to believe that just about everyone and everything should be considered suspicious. No doubt we should be hugging our pillows tight and sleeping with one eye open.
- DUI. Drinking and driving will kill you, your friends, and someone else’s family. True enough. This is an issue here on Okinawa, but not because of the Japanese; the vast majority of tickets, arrests, and related issues are initiated by Americans on and to Americans.
- Sports Pads. Without them, you’ll die…. Don’t forget that mouth-guard! Even knocked-out teeth can die.
- Seatbelts. Adult seatbelts will kill your kids. Oh, so will airbags…when using adult seatbelts. The piece doesn’t say anything about bouncing around the back of a station wagon like we all did growing up.
- Etiquette. You would not believe how often I hear this particular commercial: “The Senior Member Enters a Car Last so that they may Exit the Car First.” Really? And who the heck requires this timely piece of military etiquette? I can only imagine that an overly irate senior-ranking member of the AFN establishment might be so frustrated over the insult of leaving the car second (or god forbid, last) that they would resort to murder.
- Spice & Salvia. Taking drugs will kill you. Oh, so will supplements.
- Typhoons. Even in Tropical Typhoon Condition of Readiness 4 – the lowest, base level of concern during the entire season, a typhoon can kill you within 72 hours.
- CAC Cards. If you lose your ID card, a terrorist will get it and ultimately kill you. See “Terror” above.
- VA. A playful take of VA benefits and services using a “greatest hits” approach. But not playful enough to be entertaining the 2nd through 23rd times heard.
And finally, I saved my favorite for last. Against all this other fearful chatter, there is the most odd and misplaced radio ditty concerning breast-feeding called “Every Ounce Counts;” you can listen to song Healthy Baby Healthy Mama here. Now, don’t get me wrong. I’m a full-time supporter of breastfeeding, and understand pretty well all the benefits to baby and Mom that come from this wholly natural and nature’s intended way of feeding babies. But seriously, is this radio spot really necessary? I cringe every time I hear this song and can’t help but think about the continual castration of the warrior class of the military long past….
But, more critically, I would love to see a serious medical research study done on the effects and efficacy of such attempts at mind and behavioral control. Two things strike me – a non-medically trained observer, but one with quite a bit of graduate education.
First, creating a culture of fear and imposing this culture on people 24/7 is counter-productive. You can only cry “Wolf!” or that the “Sky is falling!” so many times before someone simply stops listening, and more dangerously, they stop caring. The military reaches this point after a week on-island. A persuasive and over-stated culture of fear benefits no one.
Second, there could be consequences, potentially serious, for subjecting the force to this type of indoctrination. If you tell a young, moldable minded individual that everyone and everything, everywhere and anywhere, is dangerous, what results? There is where a formalized study would not only be interesting but is one I believe long overdue and ultimately necessary.
I’ve written about the failures of military leadership in this blog before (see Epic Fail), and about AFN too (see Team America). The commercials or PSAs or whatever you want to call them are the source of a lot of consternation online, the source of a whole slew of jokes on-island, and worst, is responsible for creating an overall lack of respect for the governmental-military-industrial complex…which includes leadership, large and small. The fact that the collective “we” of the military community on Okinawa are continually subjected to be treated like children who don’t know any better so that we must be constantly reminded about the dangers around every corner and in every person, action, place or thing actually results in a backlash against the establishment. And why leadership can’t see this, why they are not more aware of just how bad AFN is in this regard and how badly it is perceived, to me means they aren’t listening.
To AFN. Or to those they wish to lead. Now that’s something that truly should be feared.
- Team American Forces Network, F’Yeah! (fareastfling.me)
- Armed Forces Network Goes Off Air Overseas Due to Shutdown, Preventing Troops From Watching Games (nesn.com)