POP CULTURE IS ALL AROUND US, affecting all bodies of society. We see the Department of Homeland Security using zombie movies as a way to teach emergency preparedness, college courses questioning whether Harry Potter is real and presidential candidates quoting Pokemon 2000.
One would think the military would be above this, what with having two wars, anti-terrorism activities and integrating gay soldiers. But pop culture is merging as much with our military as any other institution.
1. Mythbusters Designing Advanced Body Armor and Training Dummies for the Military
You know Adam Savage and Jamie Hyneman as the guys who decide if the friend of the friend of your cousin really died peeing on the third rail of the subway. What you might not know is there side job: Military designers.
Their beards alone have checked North Korean aggression.
In an interview at Comic-Con, they discussed how footage from their experiments have been requested by national labs. They have designed armor for personnel to protect against the blasts for IEDs and dummies for medic training to deal with blast victims.
2. LeeRoy Jenkins Becomes a Metaphor for All That is wrong in American Iraqi Policy
World of Warcraft, while battle-oriented, seems to have little to offer the military. Cross-dressing players wielding magic while sitting in front of computers for hours certainly doesn’t scream “The Few, the Proud, the Marines.”
Although, measured by weight, many do constitute a few good men.
But WoW is good for something, like a metaphor for failed US military policy. In the Armed Forces Journal, Capt. Robert M. Chamberlain (Iraq veteran and Rhodes Scholar) uses the famous viral video of LeRoy Jenkins as a metaphor for the failure of advising military forces in Iraq. He said counter-insurgency had matured to deal with local politics, military advisors were cavalier in their attitude in how Iraqi forces should be run. Like LeRoy Jenkins returning from microwaving some chicken, they ran in and started taking names and kicking ass, minus the latter part.
3. Air Force Lt. Col is Just as Bored and Unmotivated at his Job as Dante and Randall
Military video games make everyone think they can be a special forces badass. However, the ranks of the military are mostly filled with infantry grunts and the support troops as bored as Dante and Randall in Clerks.
Call Of Duty: Post Exchange.
One of those bored background guys is Air Force Lt. Col. Dan Ward. In Defense AT&L Magazine, an Air Force magazine about acquisitions, Lt. Col. Ward used the logistical nightmare of the Death Star as a metaphor for his job.
“In the Star Wars universe, robots are self-aware, every ship has its own gravity, Jedi Knights use the Force, tiny green Muppets are formidable warriors and a piece of junk like the Millennium Falcon can make the Kessel Run in less than 12 parsecs. But even the florid imagination of George Lucas could not envision a project like the Death Star coming in on time, on budget.”
We have to credit Lt. Col. Dan Ward for making the dry subject of military acquisition accessible to us layman civilians, especially since it’s obvious he wasn’t even suppose to be at work that day.
4. Navy Scours Chicago looking for Dorothy from Wizard of Oz
In the near future, our children will look back on the anti-gay movement like average people look back at the South in the 1950s. During Gay History Month, learning how the Navy spent the 1980s hunting down Dorothy from the Wizard of Oz will only contribute to them thinking everyone was as backward as a Westboro protestor.
In the early 1980s, the Navy Investigative Service (the predecessor to NCIS) was investigating homosexuality among sailors in the Great Lakes when it heard of the term “Friend of Dorothy” come up. Convinced Dorothy was a ring leader of gay sailors, they set about finding Dorothy, hoping she would reveal who was gay in the Navy.
This is “Dorothy.”
Gay men loved Dorothy and used her as code to identify each other. It worked so well it made flying monkeys out of Navy investigators.
5. Pop Music and Instrument of Torture
Anyone who has listened to Top 40 radio would agree that a lot of pop music is torture to listen to. But while most of us changed the station, our military listened to the music and thought, “We can weaponize it!”
Not only have they used it, they even beat the Internet to some of its claim to fame. For instance, when trying to remove General Noriega from Panama, US troops Rick Rolled him. During Waco, federal agents blasted distorted version of Tibetan chants, until the Dalai Lama complained. Even tunes from Barney the Dinosaur and Sesame Street have been used against Iraqi detainees.
The military should stop using music for war and turn it towards peace. The US military will gain a lot more by launching operation Peter Gabriel.
John Cusack, pictured ending the embargo on Cuba.
6. Pokemon Inspired Seizure Cannon
Remember the intro where I mentioned Herman Cain quoting Pokemon? Maybe you dismissed it as a pizza man resorting to his old sales gimmicks. Laugh all you want, because where Cain saw music, the military saw a seizure inducing weapon.
In 1997, an episode of Pokemon used a flashing image of Pikachu that caused hundred of seizures across Japan. While on the civilian side this no doubt led to better animation standards for safety, the US government considered using a version of that in induce seizures with a theoretical 100 percent success rate.
Mighty Morphin’ Power Ranger Zords were rejected due to high cost.