by Zero Hedge
Love boats, Oedipus complexes, and pants suits on a desert island – a pair of new schmaltzy films, courtesy of the US Department of Defense, are the Christmas present we could all do without.
You know how it goes, you spend half your life waiting for the US military to help make a sentimental, Christmas-themed romantic comedy and then two come along at once: Hallmark’s ‘USS Christmas’ and Netflix’s ‘Operation Christmas Drop’.
Neither film could have been made without military support – nearly half of ‘USS Christmas’ takes place on board an aircraft carrier, and the scenes were filmed aboard the Battleship North Carolina and the USS Yorktown, courtesy of the US Navy. The plot of ‘Operation Christmas Drop’ revolves around Andersen Air Force Base in the Western Pacific island of Guam, with full access provided by the US Air Force.
Christmas rom-coms might seem an odd choice for the Pentagon’s entertainment liaison offices to support – neither film depicts war or violence of any kind, after all. But if we unwrap them, what we find beneath the enticing shiny paper and ribbons is not merely the disappointment of the same gift they got you three years ago, but the nagging anxiety and sense of betrayal that comes with an unwelcome present. However, we cannot simply re-gift ‘USS Christmas’ and ‘Operation Christmas Drop’ and wash our hands of responsibility for the bad choices of others.
Hallmark, the Pentagon, and a partridge in a pear tree
Why a giant of cinema such as Hallmark would want to work with the Department of Defense (DOD) is difficult to pin down, but the relationship goes back at least a decade. Hundreds of pages of reports from the US military’s Hollywood offices, especially those of the Army, detail numerous collaborations with Hallmark since 2010.
These range from manipulative, tearjerking Mother’s Day video messages from deployed sons and daughters to manipulative, heartwarming military-dog-themed reality shows. Another effort saw them commemorate 2015 Veterans’ Day with a special film featuring a Congressional Medal of Honor recipient receiving the accolade of having a highway interchange dedicated to him.
Supporting these sorts of productions helps the DOD expand both its fans and its market share – the lifeblood for any entertainment-media concern. As one Army report notes, regarding its support to the Second Annual Hero Dog Awards Show, “By airing on the Hallmark Channel, the demonstration of the Army serving as America’s Force of Decisive Action reached an audience that it might not typically reach.”
How a golden retriever could ever be a ‘Force of Decisive Action’, however, the report doesn’t clarify
The point is that while ‘Man of Steel’ and the ‘Transformers’ franchise act as attention-grabbing recruitment commercials for teenage boys and young men, in order to reach young women and their mothers, the Pentagon has to try something other than blockbusters about good aliens fighting bad aliens with the help of F-35s and the National Guard.
Likewise, few films and TV shows aimed at women have the necessary story components for promoting the military as the solution to all problems. Enter ‘Pitch Perfect 3’, ‘Captain Marvel’, and some of the worst Christmas films you’ve ever seen.
USS Christmas: An exercise in cringe and condescension
Both of these films are based on real-life military traditions, with USS Christmas locking its sights on the US Navy’s Tiger Cruise program, which allows the families of service members to take cruises on Navy ships. In the past, it was aimed at civilians in general, but women could participate only if there were already other women on board. As an LA Times article from 1990 promoting the program put it, ‘How about a cruise ship without bartenders, bands, entertainment, waiters, gift shops, gourmet meals, and midnight buffets? And most of the time without women!’