Kid Rock and the National Guard. At Frost/Nixon? You gotta be kidding!
February 20, 2009
Among the advertising and many previews prior to the screening of Frost/Nixon, my wife and I were bemused (if not assaulted) by a music video for the National Guard by Kid Rock also featuring NASCAR driver, Dale Earnhart. I believe the song is called “Warrior” although Kid Rock belted the lyric “American Warrior,” lest there be any mistake.
The video is nothing short of an anthem for our armed forces. Brazen in its imagery, we see Soldier’s breaking down doors and seizing weapons. We see military might doing what it does best: kicking ass and saving the world. “Freedom ain’t for free,” Kid Rock reminds us. (It sure ain’t, Kid. Last I checked the war in Iraq was costing us over 10 million dollars a week, not including human tolls.)
In Top Gun fashion, racing scenes intercut the rolling tanks and Hum Vees. Dale has his uniform. The Guard has theirs. Checkered flags. American Flags. What’s the difference? It’s all good! NASCAR, the National Guard and Kid Rock. Contrary to popular opinion, Red State America is alive and well.
Directed by Academy award winning director, James Mangold (Cop Land, 3:10 to Yuma), it’s more like opening a can of whup-ass than a commercial. Make no mistake the film is gorgeous. It’s a big time production, old school and proud of it. It’s just that the piece is dangerously close to being “America, Fuck yeah” from the wonderfully vile, Team America World Police.
Though I’m not the target (if I can use that word), the film gave me the willies. Aren’t we (as a nation) over such in-your-face patriotism? After all, we just replaced “Dubya” and, one hopes, his hawkish policies.
Trust me, folks. I’m no liberal. My politics are thoroughly in the middle. We need a strong military and I believe advertising one is legitimate. But watching a rock video about the glories of war seemed sad and wrong. I wonder how the young men and women in the audience felt. Could a spectacle such as “Warrior” actually motivate America’s youth into signing up with the Guard, especially now, in this time of supposedly big change? Even in rural parts, where auto racing and kicking ass reign supreme, I would think this imagery feels tired. Certainly tired-er. Wouldn’t the promise of good pay and an education be a more lucrative strategy, especially during this recession?
Why at a screening of Frost/Nixon? Here’s a film about a President mired in controversy from Watergate but also the Viet Nam war. During the film’s intense last reel, we see brutal footage from that terrible conflict perversely mirroring the imagery from the National Guard commercial. Awkward.
And, finally, we are down town Chicago, where Democratic politics are a foregone conclusion. I’m going to go out on a limb and suggest the 70 year-old Jewish woman sitting next to me was aghast, at both the romantic use of violence as well as Kid Rock. If there were any teen-agers watching Frost/Nixon that night, I didn’t see them.