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NBC’s newest reality show causes controversy

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By Courtney Coleman / Staff Writer

By Courtney Coleman / Staff Writer

NBC’s latest reality show, “Stars Earn Stripes,” is described on NBC’s website as an “action packed competition show that pays homage to the men and women who serve in the U.S. Armed forces.” It has caused quite a controversy amongst viewers.

On the show celebrities team up with military operatives and first-response servicemen to complete missions inspired by real military exercises. Competitors who don’t complete the missions are eliminated until just one celebrity remains.

Although some viewers have no problem with “Stars Earn Stripes”, other viewers have voiced that the show missed the mark in its attempt to honor our country’s servicemen and women.

“(The show) isn’t even a good idea,” said Ariel Speilman who opposes the show. “It doesn’t compare to the real  thing; carrying heavy gear and shooting at targets isn’t what the military is even about.”

NBC’s website lacks a clear statement of how exactly “Stars earns Stripes” honors U.S. servicemen other than making it clear that the competitors will be donating to veteran and first-response charities with each mission they complete. The celebrity who wins the overall competition also will be awarded $100,000 to donate to their charity of choice.

For some viewers bringing awareness to the numerous charities mentioned in the show is enough to keep watching.

“(The show) is well worth it to bring awareness… to military charities,” said Barbara Cropper, military wife and mother, “I’ll bet 99 percent of the general public who have not served or do not have a loved one currently serving, have ever even heard of these charities.”

Donating to charity adds sentiment to the new reality show, but the debate in “Stars Earn Stripes” case is whether or not donating to charity justifies the proposed offensive nature of the show.

“These guys are making a game out of what our troops are doing every day,” said United States Army veteran Rick Frederickson, “The stars are not earning stripes. They are having fun in a game. Our troops leave family and friends for long tours and are exposed to real threats of death and dismemberment. There is no honor in what these stars are doing.”

The show’s intentions are implied with statements made throughout the “Stars Earn Stripes” premiere. Host Samantha Harris describes the competition’s missions as “reminiscent of counterinsurgencies that have taken place all over the world.”

One of the show’s celebrity competitors, Terry Crews, also said he gets to “see what soldier life is really like” during an interview. Crews later drops out of the mission within minutes after failing to swim a short distance after being dropped from a helicopter into a lake below.

Dean Cain, another competitor, makes the comment “there’s a good chance I could die” in reference to the mission set up for the group.

With help always seconds away, trained military personnel aiding the celebrities, and no real chance of danger, NBC has gone out of its way to ensure the safety of the competitors.

Such assertions as made by Harris, Crews and Cain, have created an uproar that has lead to a number of boycotts and protests against “Stars Earn Stripes”.  Some viewers have even blocked NBC in refusal to support the channel.

“We are now okay selling the reputation of the military for a donation to charity,” said boycott participant Phil Debrier, “Does the end justify the means? If  NBC is serious about helping vets, go back to the drawing board and create something where they can be proud of the efforts, instead of having to constantly explain their intentions.”

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