Mar 102009
Authors: Ryan Nowell

So I went to see a movie this weekend for the first time in a while, and like everyone who has shown up early to the theater in the last couple months, I got to watch Kid Rock scream for two minutes about how effin’ sweet war is.

For those late-comers who always miss the coming attractions, I’m talking about the new National Guard recruitment video featuring Mr. Rock and racer Dale Earnhardt, Jr. that’s been playing in theaters across the country, wherein they belt out to the cheap seats how pants-crappingly American it is to join the National Guard.

Of course, neither Rock nor Earnhardt, Jr. have ever actually been in the armed services, but that doesn’t keep them from educating the rest of us on how it’s done.

You see, being paid absurd amounts of money to drive around in circles and beat your chest over rhyming jingoisms (“Cause freedom ain’t [sic] so free when you breathe red, white and blue!” “. ready to deploy, engage and destroy .,” “I’m an American Warrior!”) is, by implication, equivocal to an overseas deployment.

I mean, really, some of those video shoots can be just exhausting. Posing in front of a high-powered fan for six hours, why that’s some hardcore stuff right there.

You better be horking amber waves of grain and shooting bald eagle yolks intravenously if you want the spiritual resilience to get through that.

And racing? Don’t even get me started. Only a real patriot could have the mental fortitude it takes to decal his car with advertisements and pee in a flame-retardant onesie. Yeah! “I’m an American Warrior!”

At least, I’d assume making this commercial was equivalent to a National Guard deployment, otherwise having two wealthy celebrities commanding their demographics to go risk life and limb doing things they would never consider doing themselves might be interpreted as a tad hypocritical.

But I’m pretty sure it’s comparable. According to the commercial, being deployed in Iraq is a pretty sweet gig, nothing but kicking in wooden doors, looking cool and returning errant soccer balls to young street urchins. The only roadside bomb you’ll be encountering will be an explosion of multicultural understanding! Sweet! “Citizen Soldier!”

Further kudos are in order for finally having a recruitment commercial with balls — specifically, the balls to patronize the hell out of its target audience.

It’s the sort of gutsy move Patton would’ve been proud of, had he been born several generations later, squandered his genius on huffing gas and worked as a weekend fry-cook at Hooter’s.

Rather than appeal to John and Jane Patriot’s practical concerns (like enlistment bonuses, healthcare benefits, money for college, the like), the National Guard just assumes they don’t have any and will do what the “Bawitdaba” guy tells them to do.

It’s a subtle recruitment strategy. By having the Armed Services infer to every man and woman considering enlistment (generally thought to be a noble deed) that they have the critical faculties of a 14-year-old on an all night Halo bender, they weed out any of that unwanted “officer material” garbage these ads run the risk of pulling in.

Why appeal to someone’s dreams of going to college when you got NASCAR and two barrels of 12 gauge booya going off in they face?! “Aaaahhhhh Yeaaaahhhh!”

All in all, I have to say it’s the most successful military ad campaign I’ve seen in a long time. Even better than the Marine fighting the computer-generated fire monster with a sword. Yup, worth every penny of the $125 million we spent.

Did those Humvees in Iraq ever get the armor-plating they needed? Who knows? On the plus side, I’m pretty sure Kid Rock’s tour bus has a PS3 now! “And they call me warrior!”

Ryan Nowell is a senior English major. His column appears Wednesdays in the Collegian. Letters and feedback can be sent to

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