Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Anti-poverty campaigns during time of war

Have you heard this radio ad about donating hundreds of thousands of G.I.JOE dolls to poor US children? Don't fall for it.

Well, I did and was appalled. My reactions hit me like a rock. I couldn't believe that this apparently well-wishing ad promising to bring joy to all these kids for Thanksgiving was causing my liver to produce more and more bile - I was livid.
Dennis Quaid is the face of this doll and the voice of this campaign. When I heard and then saw the doll, here's what I heard:

We are in time of war. Our soldiers are dying. Let's give G.I.JOE dolls to the children of poor US children while advertising a movie in the meantime.

How cynical can we get?

I plucked this (see below) from a website advertising Quaid's most recent movie.

Hasbro has announced that the "G.I. Joe" brand, the Marine Toys for Toys Foundation and G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra star Dennis Quaid will help deliver up to 300,000 toys to children this holiday season:

Over 14 million children live in poverty in the United States. They need a hero this holiday season and here to answer the call of duty is the G.I. JOE brand from Hasbro, Inc.

Hasbro’s G.I. JOE brand, the Marine Toys for Toys Foundation and actor Dennis Quaid are joining forces to help make this holiday season a little brighter for less fortunate children. For every G.I. JOE: The Rise of Cobra toy purchased at stores from November 11 through November 26 (Veteran’s Day through Thanksgiving), Hasbro will donate a new toy (up to 300,000 toys with a minimum $3.99 value) to Toys for Tots.

My issue is certainly not with giving toys to poor children.
My issue is with the fact that a large chunk of my country's economy is built on warfare and weapons. Children are socialized into ways of being that are acceptable to and drive the economy of war and violence. And, it is in large part the children of middle and lower-class families who end up joining the military as a way out of financial hardship. A lot of them grow up thinking that war is normal.
I think it's important that we challenge these taken-for-granted assumptions.

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