View Full Version : Sex, the City … and the Marines?

06-17-08, 07:34 AM
Sex, the City … and the Marines?

Posted: Tuesday, June 17, 2008 3:00 AM by Allison Linn

When we recently attended a screening of the “Sex and the City” movie, we expected having to sit through the requisite commercials before the main feature. Especially for a film so product-placement-fashion-spread heavy. We did not, however, expect an ad for the U.S. Marine Corps.

That fact gets to the heart of what is right and wrong with “America’s Marines,” currently running in movie theaters and on television. The commercial features U.S. Marines in dress uniform performing a complex rifle drill in some of America’s most beloved and beautiful places: against the backdrop of the Rocky Mountains, amid the bright lights of New York City, at the foot of the Golden Gate Bridge and, most strikingly, along the edge of the Grand Canyon.

The lush music, deep-voiced announcer and stunning cinematography make it a natural fit for the big screen. In fact, it’s hard to appreciate the commercial if you don’t see it on a movie-sized screen, and it’s so eye-catching that you can enjoy it even if you are the target demographic for a movie about thirty- and fortysomethings living in New York City rather than twentysomethings considering a career in the military.

But even the “Sex and the City” women would (begrudgingly) admit that looks aren’t everything, and one has to wonder whether the commercial, which likely cost a fair bit of money and took an enormous amount of logistical planning, will actually get people to join the Marines.

The stereotypical military ad focuses on the adrenaline rush of serving your country -- the allure of physical feats of greatness and the sheer power of using advanced fighting machinery -- or tout benefits such as opportunities and education. Those approaches allow the military to accentuate the upsides of service while also acknowledging a sobering truth: this is a country that has been involved in a major, complex conflict for five years, and joining up these days is very literally an agreement to risk your life for your country.

“America’s Marines,” is lovely, but its beauty risks being disingenuous. Certainly there are people who will join the Marines because they love this country, and the ad reminds us of how much there is to love about this country. But these days it takes more than patriotism to agree to serve -- it also takes the guts to know that you will likely be facing a messy battlefield. Anyone who is seriously considering joining the Marines has likely given that a fair amount of thought.

The past few years have generated in us all an enormous amount of respect for the troops, and we certainly mean no disrespect here. One simply wonders whether those who choose to make that sacrifice would feel turned off, or even pandered to, by the contradiction between what this commercial presents, and what reality has to offer.