Kid Rock and the National Guard. At Frost/Nixon? You gotta be kidding!

February 20, 2009

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View Kid Rock\'s \"Warrior\"

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.

7 Responses to “Kid Rock and the National Guard. At Frost/Nixon? You gotta be kidding!”

  1. Sarah said

    I saw this very same commercial and while it did resonate, I’m not sure it did for the right reasons. After I got done dwelling over what NASCAR and Kid Rock might have in common (other than a paycheck signed by the National Guard), something about it hit me totally wrong. I think you sum it up, “Wouldn’t the promise of good pay and an education be a more lucrative strategy, especially during this recession?” The answer is yes – people (even the young and the rural) are much more concerned with the homeland… the “target” is trying to pay for school, while paying for rent, while trying to find a job… all in a recession! They are fighting! National Guard might do itself service to recognize that.

  2. Jason Fox said

    I actually saw this spot at the one movie per quarter we’re able to see. First, I think you can chalk up the odd placement to an all-or-nothing media buy for the theater chain/NCN. Still dumb, but I’m guessing that’s why.

    Does this spot have the best strategy for the current times? I really couldn’t say without talking to someone more representative of the target. But I do know that the military is constantly using a multi-pronged strategy that always shifts messages between “let’s kick some butt,” “get a good job when you get out,” “pay for college,” and “it’s noble to serve your country.”

    As for what Junior’s doing in there, the Guard sponsors his Busch, sorry, Nationwide car and they have to use him somewhere. Although that’s always felt rather weak to me.

  3. SRP said

    Lots of good comment content.
    Upon further review, I agree that “get a job/education” in the National Guard has definitely been played out. Yet, now is definitely the time for such a strategy. And of course the bad placement of this spot in Frost/Nixon is more an indictment on cinema advertising than client… What’s up with Kid Rock? I remember when he did rap with a horny midget…

  4. I saw “Synechdoche, New York” out in the theaters, and was bombarded with a bombastic rock music recruitment video there, too. Not sure it was starring Kid, though.

    If you know anything about Synechdoche, it’s from the guy who wrote Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind and probably does not attract an audience looking to enter the military.

  5. SRP said

    I’ve been told that there is another “execution” (sorry) in this romantic military campaign and the band is Four Doors Down. Why don’t they just give in to the obvious and go with Guns ‘n Roses. “Welcome to the Jungle” of Iraq.

  6. Dave said

    Amen. This is probably the worst and most confusing thing I have ever seen in a movie theater. And I saw the movie Eagle Eye. And unlike Fanta or those talking brown bag from Fandango this is the Government wasting my TIME and my MONEY.

  7. John Yancy said

    I respectfully disagree. I think it’s a great advertisement and very effective. What is wrong with trumpeting our military, with accomplishments throughout history that no other fighting force in the world can match, and encouraging young people to join in a time of war?

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