That’s not the point. Chuck Nadd isn’t the point. He just illustrates the point. We could point out all the ways this “contest” stinks to high heaven and the fact that a guy whose name brings up 20 pictures on a quick image search found his way into the limelight again. He probably has taken enough grief about this for two lifetimes, and I’m sure if he finds himself alone in the maintenance hooch with some crew chiefs he’s going to get a lovely Super Bowl After-party, the effects of which will necessitate some nail polish remover and a trip to the PX barber shop to make right. (Don’t worry, every LT gets one).
The point of all this tilting at windmills is this: right now, we live in a society where two very alarming trends have intersected in a very bad way.
The first is the use of the military and its members, be they genuine humble servants or disgusting glory hounds, as props. Budweiser plays us like a cheap Belgian fiddle (you know A-B is now part of a Belgian-Brazilian conglomerate now, I’m sure), and they’re far from alone. They couldn’t even be bothered to pick someone other veterans and military families might call the “right guy” for this role. They went with the well-connected, media-savvy known quantity. Why? Because Budweiser is smart enough to know that by and large, where the military is concerned, America is dumb. Why take a risk on some average Joe? Why pick some enlisted soldier who might not be quite as polished or pretty after a few years of war? Definitely don’t pick one of those wounded veterans with a missing limb. That’d be way too uncomfortable. America will lap up any camo-clad figurine Bud throws on the screen, so pick the guy who briefs well. This isn’t actually about the soldiers, anyway. It just has to look that way.
Of course you welled up with pride and misty-eyed joy at the sight of this commercial. We all did. We’re conditioned to do so, whether by societal norms or by memories of our own first homecoming from the sandy outposts of American foreign policy. We have come to accept soldiers, sailors, airmen, and Marines as props. Our honorable warfighters have been allowed to become fungible assets in the pursuit of the almighty dollar. Veterans are on par with the Priceline Negotiator and Sarah MacLachlan’s gut-wrenching narration of starving puppies (seriously, cut that out before I adopt dog #4). They’re all means to end. America feels good. Dollars get spent. The terrorists don’t win.