I sometimes wear a pin that I have from the early 1970s – Boycott War Toys. Much has changed since then in the design and development of war toys. The Pentagon has an active role and enormous budget for developing, along with public relations and advertising firms, the military message through children’s toys, teen games, video and movies. Military personnel were involved in the making of the film Transformers in adding authenticity to the battle scenes. The military has partnered with Sears allowing the company to use a military insignia on camouflage clothing they sell, making it more appealing to kids. We are all aware of the Army Experience Center in the mall outside of Philly. There, youth are encouraged to try out her/his skills, ‘win’ against the enemy, rack up more dead terrorists than your friend, and give us your personal information.
Schools have JROTC with a military presence in the hallways and assemblies. The NYC Department of Education has agreed to an after-school Â military lifestyles athletic program at 9 local HSs. The question of access and recruitment becomes paramount whenever military are inside the schools.
Nowadays, there are few outlets for many kids to escape war toys, battle challenges, and violent games – it’s exciting, macho and everyone does it. “We know the difference between real killing and video games.” “Some of the games are really not so bloody – they’re boring.” But do they know that there is no reset button in war?
Winning the hearts and minds of youth is at the center of the Pentagon’s advertising initiatives. They don’t give something away for nothing. Military personnel have noted that even if the kids don’t enlist, they will have been exposed to a military mode of thinking. Their heads and hearts will have been won over for future wars. Students will understand military initiatives, the battle of good and evil, the need to win, war as a game, patriotism, authoritarian leadership.
It’s not the old game where kids made up there own stories and scenarios – soldiers, guns, knights, swords, cowboys and Indians, no matter how much we detested it back then. Now it’s about ongoing war, ongoing training, and development of positive attitudes toward the military. The myths and adventure live on – how long will our kids be safe from the military, industrial, entertainment, media, corporate culture.
The GPB stands firmly to end wars, to stop the next war, and to bring our troops home. We should stand just as firmly to protect our kids’ minds, bodies and well being from the Pentagon’s on-going crusade to win them over – whether in school, at home or at the movies.
– Barbara Harris
for the Granny Peace Brigade