December 26, 2006

An Army of Narcissists? No Way

Army of One

A tremendous example of the societal narcissism I wrote about in my Time article with the funny cover.    If there was any one organization that I would have thought was in direct opposition to narcissism it would be the military, yet here it is, being specifically promoted.

I understand the practical necessity of this approach, of course; trying to tap into a listless and apathetic populace who get their current events from clips of the Colbert Report on YouTube-- they can't even be bothered to find Iraq or Afghanistan on a map, let alone enlist.  But mark my words, when a military cannot effectively appeal to any higher beliefs at all, and must resort to patronizing illusions of self-fulfillment only, then this society cannot last.

Look at the evolution of the slogans, and tell me I am exaggerating (from Army Times:)

“Today’s Army wants to join you”: 1971-73.

“Join the people who’ve joined the Army”: 1973-1979.

“This is the Army”: 1979-1981.

“Be all you can be”: 1981-2001.

“An Army of one”: 2001-2006.

Look at the grammar, the semiotic connotations.  A question for the historians would be whether or not a civilization in decline was aware that it was declining; and if not, what did they think was going on?

But perhaps all is not lost.  The Army just announced their new recruiting motto, which has apparently tested quite well:  "Army Strong."


As an aside, the "Army Strong" campaign was created by the Army's new advertising firm, McCann Erikson.   They're responsible for the MasterCard "priceless/there are some things money can't buy" campaign. Of course, this cost the Army one billion dollars. 

I'll go back to psychiatry now.