Monday, August 3, 2015

We Get it; You're Not Dismembered - Stop the Surprise Reunions

You've seen it over and over again of late.

A man, crouching behind a wall or a bleacher, with a smirk of glee on his face ... in anticipation of what is to come. Next you see an elder woman or a young boy or girl walking into the scene unaware of the sneaky man lurking around the corner. In a swift move, the man jumps out at his unsuspecting family member and shouts: "Hello honey - I'm NOT dead!" 

Whereas I may stretch the actual statement, this is a general rundown of the latest commercial ploy to pull at our heart strings - the military man coming home to a mother or child and doing it in a way that completely surprises and startles them. Every time I see or hear of one these stories, I feel sick to my stomach. And there is a reason why. 

Yes, there is a great love between father and son, and all parents and children. We rarely see the depth of it revealed so clearly. But we see it in moments like this. It may even reflect a divine sort of union, once again not always perceptible in our common day-to-day activities. And this just may be the actually reason it moves many of us to tears.

However, is this the only way to get us to this level of emotion? To actually implement this sort of trickery and manipulation, which uses a little kid's emotions in a public display, is disgusting. This is underscored especially when the display is placed up against the false and romanticized backdrop of the military, which far too often results in the return of fathers rife with post traumatic stress disorder, amputations, physical and mental disabilities... if they come home at all. 

We do not see the reaction of the little children to a father returning from a long business trip, or time away oversees for other purposes, for this doesn't fit in with the desire to glorify the military and underscore this allegiance to patriotic pride. 

And why not have another scenario of surprise? How about simply walking in from the airport, where the child or mother is not surprised (for our voyeuristic shock value) but in an authentic and respectful way. If we saw a child running into the arms of a daddy coming home from a long trip, it would still reflect the love that touches our hearts. But no, we won’t see the media use these images much - lacks the drama, the pathos, the human interest of a "Punkt" nation.

And to take it to an even more "in your face" level, we also do not see the reaction of the child who is told that dad did indeed return home ... but did so in a box. Even though this amount of deep emotion would, again, reveal the deep love and unity of father and son, we won't be allowed the view from that sort of shock. Not good PR or propaganda for war and the war machine that profits no one except those marketing it for their own purposes.

Alas, we don't want to look at the reality of war and the losses experienced there. We'd rather allow others to play tricky games with it, manipulating mothers and children, to further push some delusion that the return of fathers (and mothers) is always so grandiose and grand.

The love is grand. And always will be. So let's do something about it. Let's turn off and turn down these manipulative and misguided commercials of surprise military reunions. Let's respect that love and those unions that much.

James Anthony Ellis is a writer and producer living in Lemon Grove, who will appreciate and welcome anyone coming home. He can be reached at

No comments:

Post a Comment