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British Army recruitment adverts

Right up there with the ‘six second abs’ and Bill Clinton’s definition of ‘sexual relations with that woman’, the British Army’s recruitment advertisements are a fine addition to the canon of conveniently incomplete statements. In six seconds time you will still be a fat failure who somehow thought there was an easy route to changing your stomach from gloopy gas-factory into a ripped, washboard paradise machine.
In one of the British Army’s videos, we see home video footage of a youth with his mum and life in Britain is exposed as high tedium next to the fun and games of those crazy army boys and their barrack-room shits and giggles. In another, a young chap is seen prominently wielding an Xbox 360 pad while he controls an airborne surveillance camera, keeping an eye on his pals. In a third, a woman is seen tending sick villagers in some backward desert death-hole, when a jeep appears with some ‘bad news’.
In all of these adverts, the video crackles out before the dramatic arc of the stories they seek to tell is fully realised. Perhaps the Xbox-playing lunk didn’t just see his friends receive bullet wounds to the face in a shabby bush-assault by Kalashnikov-wielding jihadists. Perhaps he did. Maybe the surprise for the bleeding-heart humanitarian medic in the African village is, in fact, a delicious cake and a birthday sing-song. Maybe it’s her imminent death, or that of a friend.
All films here need a coda. They need the ending to be completely undramatic. The British Army is selling war to young people as an exciting prospect, and one in which an individual has huge responsibilities. Join the army and the film of YOUR life might crackle – it could be cake, it could be death. It WILL be unpredictable.
If they were more honest, they would flesh out the subtext of these adverts. “You COULD get killed in somebody else’s futile oil-war, possibly even by friendly forces. If you don’t you will almost certainly get to hold a gun a few times and it beats living with your mum for the rest of your life.”
Where do I sign?


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