I seldom find myself on the same side of an issue as the hawkish former POW John McCain. This week, however, he and another member of the U.S. Senate with the delightful name Flake teamed up to deliver a report about the Pentagon paying sports teams and other entertainment entities to put on patriotic shows (Alamo Comic Con? Really?).
The senators themselves might be faulted for spending tax dollars on advertising as the poster about their heroic tackling of paid patriotism looks like the cover of a pulp novel from McCain's youth. Their study of staged spectacles informed their choice to go with good creative, I'm guessing. And it probably cost considerably less than the $6.8 million paid to sports franchises.
Now that two senators have taken up the problem, which some of us already knew about but which the corporate media had been ignoring, this story is everywhere. That's another thing I could thank McCain for: I like to read widely, and this coverage led me into all sorts of interesting publications I would normally never see.
Following the sidebar links in Deadspin.com, which my son described as "a cynical sports blog owned by Gawker media," led me to writer Tom Ley's fascinating deconstruction of some particularly smarmy staged patriotism:
But guess what Ley uncovered in his investigation of this patriotic visual?Surprise Military Reunions At NFL Games Reach Peak Bullshit...As a series of visuals... it was a sterling example of the genre. The All-American cheerleader literally drops her pom-poms to run toward her husband, relief written across her face as she does; the happy young couple embraces; and Rampage, an anthropomorphic ram, looks on approvingly at their release from anxiety and fear.
It was day #1 on the job for the cheerleader, who also works for the Marine Corps and was once a White House intern for Laura Bush. And her husband was returning from his post in South Korea, not combat. Plus they are both from super wealthy families (every heard of Anhueuser-Busch?) and this was probably one of the lesser extravaganzas of their life together. Ley included a tweet from the cheerleader thanking mom and a host of other people for her "surprise" which left me wondering if her mom had also engineered the couple's wedding -- at the Vatican.
You cannot make shit like this up.
With 45% of U.S. children now in families in or perilously close to poverty, and while the mortality rate of even non-elderly white people in the U.S. soared compared to other developed nations, this is what their government spent their tax dollars on. Hey, they have to tax you and me -- like Exxon, the NFL pays no taxes.
Other empires have gone down this road before us. They had good creative, too.