Saturday, August 23, 2008

Does this bother anyone else?

If you listen to country music, you've heard them. What I like to call the "death songs". They never fail to make me cry.

They're about men and women in uniform dying. (Usually men, but we'll save the rant on sexism for later.) "If You're Reading This" by Tim McGraw. "Bagpipes Cryin'" by Rushlow Harris. You get the idea. The other day driving to work I heard "Just a Dream" by Carrie Underwood.

If you've heard the song you know its about the same as all the others, with the difference that it is a woman singing. Anyway, a few days later I was working out at the gym, watching CMT. The video for the song came on. Objectively, it is a pretty good video, other than the crappy computer graphics when they are turning her wedding dress into a black mourning dress.

Subjectively, it pisses me off. The whole feel of the video is "old"- definitely very forties/fifties- and it makes me feel like they (whoever they are) are trying to deny that people in the military are dying today, while still trying to cash in on public awareness and sympathy for those killed in action. Maybe I feel that way because I know for a fact that most people in the US have no real sympathy for the military and their sacrifices; I often feel like the articles in PEOPLE and songs like the ones above are the manifestation of an obsession much like the one with Britney Spears:

People are willing to watch, and chide, and offer opinions and condemnation that do not one single helpful thing. They want to see each gory detail played out; see the tears on each widow's face, watch endless video of a soldier hugging her kids as she leaves on her third deployment in five years, sigh and shake their heads sadly at the Memorial Day newspaper with photos of young widows crying in Arlington. What they DON'T want to do is take any responsibility for the situation. Nor do they want to do constructive things to help.

Now, I'm not saying everyone is like this. But I honestly think that the vast majority of people like to pretend they are entitled to be voyeurs and users of military grief without ever giving back. It is sort of like when people come up to Einstein and thank him for his service. This drives him crazy, because he's never been deployed. Also, because right now the Air Force is paying him to do his favorite thing in the world: fly. While he is busy trying to come up with a coherent response ("You're welcome" is usually what he settles for, but we both agree that it feels a little brusque), I'm usually trying really hard not to ask that person if they ever do anything for our troops. Do you write letters? Send cards to deployed service members? Take a casserole to the house of that National Guard wife? Fine, you saw my husband in Walgreens or whatever and thanked him, but do you ever go out of your way to do something for military folks?

Ditto to those folks with the little yellow Support Our Troops magnets- I used to joke with Einstein that I was going to go around with a little pre-printed note with real ways to support the troops to stick under the magnets every time I saw them in a parking lot. But I decided that the paper waste would be too much for the environment to take, so I nixed the idea.

Wow. This turned into a huge rant. Sorry about that. But it still pisses me off.


Cat's said...

Wow. I just caught you from SpouseBuzz. I totally agree. The Husband can't even listen to Letters From Home (Tim McGraw). He thinks it's absolutely absurd that people sing along to a song about something so personal and private.
The Husband has deployed several times in the past. We get people thanking him for his service, but your right... they don't ever do anything about it. I don't expect it though.

Christine said...

well said! I found your post via spousebuzz - completely agree with you regarding the exploitation of the 'military death' country songs. Perhaps I'd feel better if i thought a chunk of the profits went towards some non-profit benefiting survivors or the military in general.

liberal army wife said...

you said it! if we use recycled paper for the cards under the yellow magnets? please?

now that DH is deploying again... I'm back in that maelstrom of feelings and such.. and the trite little songs either make me weep or grind my teeth!

I do think McGraw gives the royalties from Letters from Home to either the USO or another charity... just thought I read it somewhere.


Lindsay said...


What really pisses me of is the fact that all of these people are profiting from it! If it isn't feeding off of military families deepest darkest fears,it's some sick desire to see how we react to these songs.

I will admit to having a yellow ribbon AF magnet on the car, but hey, it was a gift from *R* so I figure if he wanted me to have it, it's just fine.

Want to know what else gets me? Those stupid "Half my heart is in Iraq" bumper stickers. I mean why don't you just put a sign in your car that says "Single female living alone, come rob my house!"? Especially in a military town. You and every other spouse in the city honey...join the club.

Rant over...