by Chris Bodenner
… Stars Earn Stripes is helping raise money for some organizations that provide those kinds of material support, including the Armed Services YMCA of Alaska, a state that is home to a disproportionate number of military families, the Wounded Warrior Project, the USO, and the Pat Tillman Foundation, which provides educational scholarships to service members and their families. But in its first episode, at least, the emphasis is more squarely on the competition aspect of the program, the sight of Terry Crews talking about how awesome it is to have figured out a sniper challenge, seeing Picabo Street kick in a door, than on the charities their efforts benefit, and the reason those charities need public support so badly.
Awesome and staged explosions are easier for a reality show to pull off than building long-term support for efforts to fill in the holes in our official support systems for service members and military families. But it would be nice if Stars Earn Stripes embraced a deeper and more nuanced sense of what it means to support the troops. The stories behind the charities the show supports are a lot richer than the sight of celebrities running around an obstacle course playing with military hardware.
Ironic that one of the charities is the Pat Tillman Foundation, given that the real Pat Tillman fiercely resisted any celebrity treatment that the Pentagon and Bush administration tried to bestow up him, for their own PR purposes. By the way, for a remarkable bit of hathos, check out US 4 Palin's review of Todd's performance:
Todd Palin started his mission with a splash, dropping into the water from a helicopter. As one man – Dolvett Quince – nearly drowned – unable to swim weighed down with over 70 lbs of gear – and was rescued, Palin immediately focused on saving the mission and treated viewers to nearly 12 minutes of valor, leadership, courage under fire, adapting, improvising and overcoming.
Once ashore, Palin took out the guard shack with an FN Herstal MK 13 EGLM 40 mm Grenade Launcher affixed to his FN Herstal SCAR MK 16 LB. Then with the SCAR 16, he took out six targets, most on the first shot. He slid under low barbed wire as easily as he crawls on his living room floor with Trig – as shots crisscrossed over his head and explosions went off all around him.