Peace Laureates Call on NBC to Cancel New Show: ’War Isn’t Entertainment’
2012-08-16 0:00


Critics say show promotes an “inglorious tradition of glorifying war and armed violence”

Nine Nobel Peace Laureates on Monday joined a growing chorus of critics calling on NBC entertainment to cancel the new “reality” show—“Stars Earn Stripes”—saying that “war isn’t entertainment” and challenged NBC’s promotional line that that such a television program would be “pay[ing] homage to the men and women who serve in the U.S. Armed Forces and our first-line responder services.”

The sshow, co-hosted by retired US General Wesley Clark and promoted heavily by NBC during its Summer Olympics telecast is scheduled to begin Monday night and stars actor Dean Cain, “The Biggest Loser” trainer Dolvett Quince, former WWE champion Eva Torres, former boxer Laila Ali, singer Nick Lachey, former Olympic gold medallist Picabo Street, actor Terri Crews, and Sarah Palin’s husband Todd.

The laureates—who include Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Jody Williams and President Oscar Arias Sanchez—issued an open letter to the Chairman of NBC Entertainment, as well as General Wesley Clark and others involved in what other critics of the show’s concept have billed as "war-o-tainment."

The Nobel Peace Prize Laureates, all of whom won their prizes for their contributions to ending violence and creating more peaceful and democratic societies, note that real war is “down in the dirt deadly,” and should not be sanitized for a “reality” TV show.

Their letter adds:

People—military and civilians—die in ways that are anything but entertaining. Communities and societies are ripped apart in armed conflict and the aftermath can be as deadly as the war itself as simmering animosities are unleashed in horrific spirals of violence. War, whether relatively short-lived or going on for decades as in too many parts of the world, leaves deep scars that can take generations to overcome – if ever.

Trying to somehow sanitize war by likening it to an athletic competition further calls into question the morality and ethics of linking the military anywhere with the entertainment industry in barely veiled efforts to make war and its multitudinous costs more palatable to the public.

Other anti-war groups, including Peace Action West and RootsAction, previously initiated an online petition drive to draw attention to the new show and also called on NBC executives to cancel the series.

"In the United States," said RootsAction in statement, "our tax dollars are spent by the billions each year marketing the idea that war is a sport and associating the military with sporting events. Media companies like NBC are complicit in the propaganda.

The group also pointed out that sanitizing war for a primetime cable show is a profitable business for at least one of NBC’s parent companies, General Electric. "GE is a big weapons manufacturer," the group said, and having "a retired general hosting a war-o-tainment show is another step in the normalization of permanent war."

Peace Action West was incredulous when they learned of the program, asking "How could a major network have a “reality” show glorifying war, engaging “stars” with veterans in military “games” for fun, while a war that has been going on for over ten years marches on in Afghanistan?" blogger Glenn Greenwald comments that overall the show is "so sleazy, repulsive and propagandistic" as to be self-evident, but does find one redeeming aspect as it relates to NBC, saying "here we have a major television network finally being relatively candid about the fact that they view war and militarism, first and foremost, as a source of entertainment and profit."

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