When director Spike Lee, everybody's favorite bug-eyed militant, successfully bid to produce five recruiting ads for the United States Navy, it signaled a sea change in the Navy's hipness quotient the likes of which haven't been seen since it nearly appropriated the Village People's "In the Navy" as a late seventies recruiting song. (That was before the Department of Defense realized the song was a gay anthem.) Surprisingly, the race-baiting director, who celebrated nymphomania in She's Gotta Have It and phone-sex operators in Girl 6, has delivered rather milquetoast goods.
Like all recruiting ads through the ages, Lee's steer away from the realities of front-line military life: bad pay, bad food, bad hours. He also avoids the kill-people-and-break-things side of the job (except in one ad where Navy Seals stand heroically with their guns drawn in the surf, obviously not there to boogie board). Instead, his stylish, verite spots feature sailors seeking tuition assistance and Internet training, performing in a band on-board their ship, and even landing plum jobs as telecommunications supervisors after their brief hitch in the service. It is the standard warfare-to-workfare approach the military has favored since killing one's enemy fell out of fashion some decades ago.
But Spike has a little fight in him still. At the Cannes Film Festival, just days before the ads were launched, Lee was asked how to prevent school violence. His suggestion: shoot NRA pitchman Charlton Heston "with a 44-caliber Bulldog." He was only joking he said later. But it's still an instructive lesson for our warfighters: By all means, don't shoot Moses.