Wednesday, May 31, 2006
USA Soccer. What's up now, Haditha!!
I thought the Gatorade Take Me Out To The Ball Game commercial painting the US Soccer team as scrappy underdogs against a hostile world was a bit ... incongruous (as discussed here). I suppose that it could be argued that its portrayal of the US against the world is borderline appropriate because crowds really are hostile to the US soccer team. But the new Nike campaign is just plain inappropriate. It's a blatant appeal to the sexiness of militarism. Propaganda? Attack clock? "Join Forces"? Don't Tread On Me? What the fuck?
Now, it was pointed out to me that "Don't Tread On Me" actually has a noble, somewhat polite origin, associated with the ideals of the American Revolution, ideals of non-intrusive vigilance and strength. One observer of the original symbol commented on the nature of the rattlesnake:
the Rattle-Snake is found in no other quarter of the world besides America ... She never begins an attack, nor, when once engaged, ever surrenders: She is therefore an emblem of magnanimity and true courage. ... she never wounds 'till she has generously given notice, even to her enemy, and cautioned him against the danger of treading on her.
First of all, I'm guessing small mammals, lizards, and birds would disagree about her never beginning an attack. Similarly, many Iraqis would contend that the US does sometimes begin attacks. (Though I guess we did give them "generous notice" that they were about to get their asses kicked. or killed, as it were.) But maybe the Don't Tread On Me slogan could apply to the US Soccer team if you took it in the sense that the global soccer community may disrespect the US by putting them in a group with the Czech Republic and Italy. Though, FIFA recently ranked the US # 4 in the world, and while that might not be an accurate placement, I think soccer fans across the world recognize that the US has a legitimately good team. So I don't see how the US team can claim they are being disrespected or tread on. Seems like paranoia. But even if you give them the Don't Tread On Me stuff, what the fuck is with the "propaganda", the attack clock, the "JOIN FORCES"? Not to mention the fact that the US Soccer team's most dedicated fans refer to themselves as "Sam's Army". I don't see how you can say that they aren't cultivating a militaristic image.
Am I overreacting here? Am I being too *gulp* politically correct? Aren't all sports about combat on some level? Is the Nike campaign maybe just modern post-ironic marketing, as innocuous as the bizarre Burger King commercials or the plethora of militaristic and otherwise violent video games that are part of the modern consciousness. Am I creating a controversy where there is none for the sake of a sexy VTK expose? Maybe so. And maybe it wouldn't bother me if I wasn't reading about the Haditha Massacre this morning. For a long time, I argued with my non-American friends that the US soccer team did not represent the government or its foreign policy, but rather the American people, the kid down the block that we grew up with. But now they appear to be actively associating themselves with militarism. And that's a problem. USA + Militarism = US Marines murdering women and children. Maybe I'm oversensitive but marines are murdering women and children in my name right now. I'd prefer that the soccer team I'm supporting isn't advertising itself with an association to that. even indirectly. because it's wrong. to murder women and children. and men. that's wrong. and it makes me ill to see it casually accepted. But I am an American, so I'll root for them in the first match against the Czech Republic, since I have $35 riding on it.