“Stars Earn Stripes” is NBC’s new reality show about war, with “real missions,” “real ammunition” and “real danger.” A group of B-list celebrities will pretend to train for and execute pretend missions in pretend combat situations, while patting themselves on the back for surviving the grueling experience.
I don’t have anything against televised explosions. I loved “Iron Man” and “Independence Day” as much as the next guy. But unlike “Stars Earn Stripes,” they didn’t make a conscious effort to blur the line between actual war and Hollywood fiction.
To pretend that a “reality” show can capture the reality of combat does not honor America’s veterans. It mocks them. It cheapens the sacrifice they were asked to make, their survival in the face of fear and adversity, and even the meaning of the word “real.”
To say that you can understand what it’s like to be in the military by shooting a gun and swimming with heavy gear is like saying you can understand what it’s like to have cancer by shaving your head.
One last thing. You couldn’t pull this sort of thing in Israel. Our entertainers and media executives, some of whom are combat veterans themselves, know the difference between honoring and mocking.