From Victoria Harper’s “Babes in Warland” posted on TruthOut.org:
- The toddlers were at the pizza parlor to celebrate Kristina’s 3rd birthday. A dozen youngsters jumped and clapped their hands as a giant rat, Chuck E. Cheese, came out to greet them. The Iraq War was far from my mind.
If you have never been to Chuck E. Cheese, it is a mix of carnival and play park, with so-so pizza, lots of video games, coin operated kiddie rides, and arcade games like ski ball.
When the birthday party settled into eating pizza and birthday cake… a series of large screen TVs came to life to show Chuck E. Cheese TV. The program was, at first, MTV-like. Performers in large animal garb sang and danced through an idyllic scene with herons and alligators. A man clad in a blazing yellow shirt and red vest skipped across the screen, singing and snapping his fingers to the lively music. The scene shifted to a person dressed in a dog costume fishing in the lake with 3- and 4-year-old children and then shifted again from pictures of the children to mothers holding small babies. Although it was disjointed and a bit crazed, it was what one might expect at Chuck E Cheese.
Then my jaw dropped: the MTV segment shifted to a promotional piece compiled by the Department of Defense! The promo showed happy, smiling soldiers in Iraq handing out toys and candies to delighted children. This was followed by a series of scenes showing war planes, tanks and more happy soldiers. This production lasted for 5 minutes of the 15-minute CEC TV show. Throughout the segment, the large animated puppets’ eyes shifted toward the TV as they nodded in approval and clapped. Then their eyes shifted back to the children, who were spellbound by the movie.
Several telephone calls I made to Chuck E. Cheese headquarters were not answered. Finally reaching someone at the local outlet, one of over 500 company owned and operated locations, I learned that the CEC TV show was a regular part of the offerings at all CEC sites and that it was run a number of times during each day.
I was stunned. Chuck E. Cheese, a place for 3-year-olds to have a birthday party, was playing promo films for military recruitment to the babies and their “youngish” parents! The problems with military recruiting in high school and middle school have been well documented, but now the Pentagon is targeting an even younger group!