Help for Heroes

Because playing it safe is for pussies.

I have been unsure how to feel about the “Help for Heroes” campaign in Britain, for a long time. You see, while I respect, and am thankful for the work that soldiers do, I’m also uncomfortable labelling soldiers fighting in the most hilariously illegal war in recent history as ”heroes”. To me, a hero is someone who in some way overcomes any personal agenda or gain in order to try and help others. Jesus was a hero. People that devote their lives to helping the less fortunate are heroes. Tools of the army are not. They are tools of the army. That’s not to say that many of them aren’t selfless or noble. In fact, after going through the training that they do, I’m sure many of them are. To cover them all in the blanket term “hero”, regardless of the individual however, seems to devalue the term, and its connotations.

This issue in itself was largely ignorable to me, because regardless of the actual heroics of the soldiers, they were there making a difference, and people were respecting them. This wasn’t a popular war, and there was no real love for the politics behind it. Being able to show respect for those in a difficult and dangerous situation was much better than the soldiers being spat on for their involvement, like they were at the end of the Vietnam War in America, an act that potentially set liberal politics amongst the American working class back 50 years. Still I was not satisfied.

I realised that there was something else that was bothering me about it all. Then it struck me: my issue was the origins of the campaign itself. You see, Help for Heroes was introduces to us by the disreputable tabloids of Britain, specifically the Sun. Others jumped the bandwagon, but the Sun heralded it, and the reasons for this were obvious. Newspapers are obsolete in terms of actual news telling, yet they still want to earn the amount of profits to which they’ve become accustomed to. They now have to attract attention of the viewer, be it by straight up lying, or by providing people with some kind of reward for buying them, whether it’s an obvious reward, like a competition, or an emotional reward, in which you have an invested interest. Not fussed about morals or truth in anyway, papers don’t stop short of informing the reader of what their own personal opinions are, and each title carefully crafts this brainwashing debauchery to its target audience. A fine example of this was when a couple of years ago the Sun suddenly changed its political alignment, like the magnetic poles of the earth, although without as much actual world changing chaos as it would have invariably liked. Was this because the editors and writers all unanimously felt that supporting the Labour government wasn’t true to their own political orientation, or more to do with the potential falling sales that could result from openly supporting an unpopular government amongst their reader base? Who knows indeed?

That reader base informs the papers as much as the papers inform them. You see, in order to successfully sell their garbage on to people, they need it to be easily digested. This means not covering anything that is deemed drastically unpopular by the readership in a positive light, and also it means pandering to these, the shallowest and most easily led of people. This is where Help for Heroes comes in. Many of our foot soldiers (or cannon fodder, if you will) come from lower middle class and working class backgrounds, incidentally a large portion of the Suns readership. These foot soldiers are also the primary casualties of the war, and thus the Help for Heroes campaign was born, to reassure the readership that the Sun does care, very much.

My issue comes from the hypocrisy of the whole thing. If the Sun respected soldiers in the war, why is it using their death as a commercial diving board, of which to launch their new anti-labour business model? It’s clearly not coincidence that the Help for Heroes campaign took off magnificently shortly before they decided to switch political orientation. What does it say about both the tabloids and the readers that the former is so happy to patronise and sell out their readership, while the latter is so ready to support such a farce of a campaign?

Finally I must ask the same question that I ask many dubious groups, activities or campaigns: Where were you when…? In this case, “Where were you in the other wars, where were you on November 11th every year?” Where were you during the Falklands conflict, or throughout the peacetime, when the armed forces really do fulfil the roles of heroes, providing aid and relief to other countries? You didn’t exist, because that all Help for Heroes is: a marketing campaign for the gullible.

Now the war is largely over, and there’s an amusing issue of high application to the now rather glamorised armed forces, and the fact that the new government that the very same people voted in, has decided to remove most of the funding for it. Maybe that’s a sign that people shouldn’t believe, follow, or even read newspapers? Maybe, but no one will get the hint until the papers tell them so.

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