I had posted this article back in February and in light of a recent article by Jorge Mariscal at Alternet.org:
Over all, disenfranchisement may be one of the most
accurate words for why some youth enlist.
I felt that I should re-publish my article in the hopes that some young person somewhere out on those mean streets would be saved.Tuesday, February 20th, 2007
I don’t know if anyone has ever taken the time out to analyze recruitment ads on television and their intended audience. Having a background in illustrative art and some experience in dealing with ad agencies I spend time analyzing television ads.
If you ever watch a recruitment ad you will notice that most are geared towards ethnic, inner city youths and middle class white country youths. These ads go right for the jugular. Right off they present a scenario that promises all sorts of benefits starting with schooling. Obviously that is very attractive to the above mentioned category of youths because for the most part they cannot afford it. The ads offer opportunities in professional fields that are glamorous to say the least. They talk about the various benefit’s the young individual will get upon enlistment and while some of this is true they don’t seem to put any focus on the actual reason why they need recruits. The recruiters, who are trained in using a vast array of psychological ploys and many of which have years of experience are skillful in evading the true reason for the enlistment needs of the military.
Well, the fact of the matter is that the majority of recruits are earmarked for foot soldiers better know as grunts, and their sole purpose in the military is engagement in war, plain and simple. Maybe not today, maybe not tomorrow, but somewhere along the line those young individuals will see action. This is especially true nowadays with the current wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. Yes, we are still in Afghanistan in case some have forgotten as they have probably forgotten that the Russians had to throw in the towel and leave Afghanistan, much like the U.S. left Vietnam. It had become too costly both in money terms and in loss of lives.
That is the sort of scenario the young recruit has pending, one of war and everything connected with it. What the parents of those young people should be doing is guiding their young towards returning veterans so they can get a real feel of what is going on. Take them on a tour of the Veterans Hospitals, or better yet the National Cemeteries to see the results of war. Have them speak to those soldiers that are permanently disfigured or amputees (or both). Have them talk to those who are not physically scarred but whose souls are damaged beyond repair. There are thousands of these even though the military will not admit it. They are easily recognized. They are those veterans with the far away gaze as if they are not on the same plane with the rest of us. They are the loners who generally want nothing more to do with society and oddly enough society wants nothing to do with them. Why, they have served their purpose! Better them than us many would say.
Back to the ads. There is one in particular where a young man says “ it’s time for me to be the man.” Obviously this is targeting their ego, their manhood and machismo. The implications being that if they don’t join they are not men. The psychological ploys are many and believe me the military has their best experts in media cranking out this stuff not to mention the professional media people who put this stuff together.
So the next time you see a recruitment ad on television be warned. Many are very persuasive and they are put together by the most skillful professionals in both the military and the private media sector.