Ten Nobel Peace Laureates Call on NBC to Cancel “Stars Earn Stripes”
(Ottawa)–Ten Nobel Peace Laureates today issued an open letter to the Chairman of NBC Entertainment, as well as General Wesley Clark and others involved in the new “reality” show premiering tonight on NBC—“Stars Earn Stripes”—calling on them to walk away from the show immediately.
In the letter, the Laureates—who include Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Jody Williams and President Oscar Arias Sanchez—note that “war isn’t entertainment” and challenge NBC’s promotional line that that such a television program would be “pay[ing] homage to the men and women who serve in the U.S. Armed Forces and our first-line responder services.”
The Laureates say that the program pays homage to no one and is “a massive disservice to those who live and die in armed conflict and suffer its consequences long after the guns of war fall silent.”
The Nobel Peace Prize Laureates, all of whom won their prizes for their contributions to ending violence and creating more peaceful and democratic societies, note that real war is “down in the dirt deadly”, and should not be sanitized for a “reality” TV show. US Nobel Peace Laureate Jody Williams won her prize for helping ban antipersonnel landmines, a deadly weapon responsible hundreds of thousands of civilian casualties. Archbishop Tutu was recognized for helping bring an end to apartheid in South Africa and President Arias for his contributions to bringing peace to the war-torn Central America of the 1980s.
The Laureates wrote the letter to add their voices to the growing chorus of global citizens who are alarmed by the increased militarization of societies, and how the entertainment industry contributes in particular to desensitizing people of all ages to the realities of war. They are supporting a protest today at 5 pm outside NBC headquarters: 30 Rockefeller Plaza, New York, NY 10112.
The following Nobel Peace Laureates signed the letter: Archbishop Desmond Tutu (1984), Jody Williams (1997), Mairead Maguire (1977), Dr. Shirin Ebadi (2003), President José Ramos-Horta (1996), Adolfo Pérez Esquivel (1980), President Oscar Arias Sanchez (1987), Rigoberta Menchú Tum (1992), Betty Williams (1977), and Muhammad Yunus (2006).
For more information, please contact:
Rachel Vincent, Manager of Media & Communications
Nobel Women’s Initiative
613-276-9030; 613-569-8400, ext. 113
WAR ISN’T ENTERTAINMENT—
AND SHOULDN’T BE TREATED LIKE IT IS
August 13, 2012
An Open Letter to Mr. Robert Greenblatt, Chairman of NBC Entertainment, General Wesley Clark (ret.), Producer Mark Burnett and others involved in “Stars Earn Stripes”:
During the Olympics, touted as a time for comity and peace among nations, millions first learned that NBC would be premiering a new “reality” TV show. The commercials announcing “Stars Earn Stripes” were shown seemingly endlessly throughout the athletic competition, noting that its premier would be Monday, August 13, following the end of the Olympic games.
That might seem innocuous since spectacular, high budget sporting events of all types are regular venues for airing new products, televisions shows and movies. But “Stars Earn Stripes” is not just another reality show. Hosted by retired four-star general Wesley Clark, the program pairs minor celebrities with US military personnel and puts them through simulated military training, including some live fire drills and helicopter drops. The official NBC website for the show touts “the fast-paced competition” as “pay[ing] homage to the men and women who serve in the U.S. Armed Forces and our first-responder services.”
It is our belief that this program pays homage to no one anywhere and continues and expands on an inglorious tradition of glorifying war and armed violence. Military training is not to be compared, subtly or otherwise, with athletic competition by showing commercials throughout the Olympics. Preparing for war is neither amusing nor entertaining.
Real war is down in the dirt deadly. People—military and civilians—die in ways that are anything but entertaining. Communities and societies are ripped apart in armed conflict and the aftermath can be as deadly as the war itself as simmering animosities are unleashed in horrific spirals of violence. War, whether relatively short-lived or going on for decades as in too many parts of the world, leaves deep scars that can take generations to overcome – if ever.
Trying to somehow sanitize war by likening it to an athletic competition further calls into question the morality and ethics of linking the military anywhere with the entertainment industry in barely veiled efforts to make war and its multitudinous costs more palatable to the public.
The long history of collaboration between militaries and civilian media and entertainment—and not just in the United States—appears to be getting murkier and in many ways more threatening to efforts to resolve our common problems through nonviolent means. Active-duty soldiers already perform in Hollywood movies, “embedded” media ride with soldier in combat situations, and now NBC is working with the military to attempt to turn deadly military training into a sanitized “reality” TV show that reveals absolutely nothing of the reality of being a soldier in war or the consequences of war. What is next?
As people who have seen too many faces of armed conflict and violence and who have worked for decades to try to stop the seemingly unending march toward the increased militarization of societies and the desensitization of people to the realities and consequences of war, we add our voices and our support to those protesting “Stars Earn Stripes.” We too call upon NBC stop airing this program that pays homage to no one, and is a massive disservice to those who live and die in armed conflict and suffer its consequences long after the guns of war fall silent.
Jody Williams, Nobel Peace Prize, 1997
Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Nobel Peace Prize, 1984
Mairead Maguire, Nobel Peace Prize, 1977
Dr. Shirin Ebadi, Nobel Peace Prize, 2003
President José Ramos-Horta, Nobel Peace Prize, 1996
Adolfo Pérez Esquivel, Nobel Peace Prize, 1980
President Oscar Arias Sanchez, Nobel Peace Prize, 1987
Rigoberta Menchú Tum, Nobel Peace Prize, 1992
Betty Williams, Nobel Peace Prize, 1977
Muhammad Yunus, Nobel Peace Prize, 2006