Tourism Australia comes under fire from random retired American soldier

Tourism Australia nailed it. The struggle between work and life is reaching fever pitch. Those with jobs are working harder than ever, thanks to layoffs and a desperate play to look like top performers in case the axe comes down again. It’s a battle, sometimes, to take control of your life. This is the theme of Tourism Australia’s new campaign, “No Leave, No Life,” which drives home the fact that Australians are pissing away their vacation time and aren’t giving themselves the time away that they need.

So, the organization modeled a photo on the U.S. Marines (hey, Sydney Morning Herald, marines and soldiers aren’t the same thing) raising the American flag on Mount Suribachi on Iwo Jima. You know the original picture. Everyone remembers it. Because everyone is familiar with this iconic photo, it’s easy for one to relate to it. That’s what makes Tourism Australia‘s picture of a family “raising” an umbrella particularly brilliant.

Well, there are a few people who would disagree, as you’ll see after the jump.

U.S. Army veteran (unless he’s really a marine – SMH can’t tell the different) Russell Wade wrote to Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd to complain. He’s pissed because it trivializes “an iconic picture of high significance to the American people.” Yet, he isn’t driven to anger by U.S. Marine commercials that equate fighting in a war to fantasy games in which fictional creatures are the enemy and are vanquished by knights with swords in a manner that implies death with what looks like a simple “zapping.”

Before we take Tourism Australia to task for its advertising decisions, let’s not forget that the Marines have had a few problems as well … occasionally seeming culturally tone-deaf.

Okay, back to the contested photos. Both photos were staged, so it really is a posed piece derived from a posed piece. And, it’s not like this is the worst instance of borrowing from military history and tradition to entertain, amuse or sell. Hell, where was Wade when Homer Simpson “trivialized” the U.S. Navy?

For that matter, where was he when the Village People did so? It looks like this guy has a shitload of letters to write.

The Village People can model entertainment on the U.S. military. The creators of The Simpsons can take it a step further (as they’ve done several times with the navy and the army, at this point). And, let’s face it. These go a lot deeper than modeling a photograph on a classic … mind you, a practice common in the arts.

I was a soldier for a while, and I have nothing but respect for those who served honorably. I just wish there could be a better sense of reality and an antidote for self-importance.

In Iraq, soldiers get a holiday break

Whether you stayed at home or suffered airport crowds to visit your family this holiday season, you were lucky. For more than 100,000 members of the U.S. armed forces and many civilian contractors, Christmas was limited to deserts, rifles and a brief phone call home. I remember from my service in Korea (10 years ago), that the military does make the effort to ease the pain a bit with a fantastic meal, and reports from the ground in Iraq show that the tradition continues.

On Camp Anaconda, the largest U.S. military installation in Iraq, soldiers and contractors were treated to a substantial feast, with senior officers serving those with lower ranks in a show of appreciation both for their daily efforts and the fact that they could not enjoy the holiday under more pleasant circumstances.

A meal without ambiance, of course, lacks a crucial element. So, to deliver a complete holiday experience, the dining facilities (as “chow halls” are now called) were decorated to remind the guests of where they’d rather be. Christmas trees stood along the walls, and in one location, Santa himself lounged in a hammock. Hominy grits were dyed and used to spell out a greeting to those who entered the makeshift “oasis” in the Iraqi desert.


For the rest of the day, activities varied. Camp Anaconda is a fairly large site, with plenty of distractions available, though the basics of life, such as doing laundry, topped the agendas of those serving thousands of miles from home.

It’s hard not to dwell on what you’re missing, but the residents of Camp Anaconda certainly made the best of their collective situation, enjoying what amenities were available and sitting down for a full meal during which they gave the orders to the officers who usually call the shots.

Want to make a soldier’s life easier? Visit Cigars for Soldiers to make a donation. Even if you aren’t a cigar smoker, for less than $10, you can give the gift of an hour’s relaxation to someone who desperately needs it.