Reunion Porn

 

“Reunion porn” the nickname some of us in the military community have given to the current rash of TV shows filming the reunions of military families.  Surprise reunions at graduations, football games, in the halls of school, baseball games or wrapped up in a big box as a present — all filmed and presented to the waiting public.  Many in the military community find these intrusive, find the TV and newspaper cameras at both farewells and reunions to be in poor taste — as did one woman I know who stood with her kids at a farewell ceremony only to have a cameraman zoom in on her heartbroken child’s face and ask that intelligent question, “so, will you miss your daddy?”

The new TV shows — Coming Home and Surprise Homecoming — have taken these small snippets and presented them to everyone in an hour long show.  Maybe you are asking, what’s the harm? We like to share in the good times of our serving military.  Well that’s great — only if you also share the bad ones.  There’s also that common perception, common even amongst military families until after they begin the reintegration phase of the first deployment, that once they are home it’s all wonderful — “farting rainbows and fairy dust,” riding off into a pink sunset and living happily ever after.  That’s not reality — that is not what is happening once that family falls off that high and real life intrudes again.  Real life after a year apart, after partners had to adjust their lives to the absence of the other, after the spouse who stayed at home lived with that worry and tension 24/7 while continuing the routine at home, after the highs and lows of casualty figures, broken off phone calls, holidays and special occasions spent alone.

As a community, we welcome real interest by the rest of the country — “empathy, not sympathy.”  Our lives are different in some ways, but as a friend said on a blog,

“…sometimes I just feel very frustrated and disconnected from the 99% who seem to be incapable of acknowledging that we are neither heroes, villains, drones, deluded, stupid, or any of a hundred other adjectives I have heard applied to military families and servicemembers. We are people. We are human.”

There are TV shows that purport to show our lives, including “Army Wives,” which for the first season was hysterically funny to those of us in the community — the uniform gaffes alone supplied a great chuckle, which have been corrected since the show now uses Army advisers.  Mrs. Obama recently asked Hollywood to tell the stories of military families.

“You have the vehicle to tell stories that just pull people in,” the first lady told the audience. “I … urge you to do what you do best. Be creative. Be funny. Be powerful. Move us, [and] move America to think differently about these issues and about these families, and about our men and women who serve so graciously.” (White House Blog)

We would love to see our stories told — but not the sensationalized, tug at the heartstrings, reduce the audience to tears stories.  We’d like you to see us for who we are; not just the child crying in joyous shock or overwhelming sorrow; not just the spouse hugging her husband goodbye trying so hard not to break down or clinging to her husband when he walks through the airport gate.  We’d like to not be used for an easy tear or a cheap flag waving commercial.

We want you to see us for what we are — humans going through our lives, working, driving the car pool, volunteering at the cat shelter or the school, cleaning the tub or scrubbing the floor, paying our bills, going to work on the subway.  We just have that added layer of stress. Our spouse may not be there, we may never let our phone out of our hands, we may be on our computer at all sorts of weird hours talking to our absent spouse.

If you watch our reunions, if you watch our farewells, those thirty second TV stories, with tears in your eyes — remember the other 364 days of the year that we need to work through.  Don’t cry for us, reach out a hand and get to know us.

 

Photo courtesy of the author

35 comments

Margie Bonn
Past Member 6 years ago

All I can say is WOW -

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Don Go
Don Go6 years ago

I just don't get the point in it. Sorry. The videos, the intrusiveness, the aim...nothing.

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Gloria H.
Gloria H6 years ago

feel good propaganda. Some day we will see documentaries on PTS, books will come out, contractors and service people will break their gag contracts and we will find out what was really going on. What about the vets dealing with house foreclosures, missing limbs, chronic depression , unemployment,and self medicating with drugs and alchohol? Oh, commercial sponsors aren't excactly fighting among themselves to give air time to real life. Dodging bullets and bombs is just one challenge to overcome, the next is adapting to "normal" civilian life which may, unfortunately for many, become extremely difficult.

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clara H.
Clara Hamill6 years ago

Maria D is Canadian if you look at her look up. I'm antiwar but I'm not naive enough to think war is just magically go away. We need to support our troops but not the wars.

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Jaclyn Johnston
Jaclyn Johnston6 years ago

If you don't want to be sensationalized, you don't want to be mentioned by Hollywood. Everything is sensationalized in the media, not just army life. I have never seen a good drama, comedy, or action flick of someone sitting at a desk writing reports, filling out paperwork, or doing intense research all day long.

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Ameer T.
Ameer T6 years ago

I hope someone sees the Iraq's, Afghanis and Pakistani's for the humans that they are as well. those poor slobs, barefoot, naked and starving in deserts dont even have media there to tell their sides of the stories. I hope some camera zooms in on some 1 year old child crying in the middle of the street hungry and afraid, lost and confused because mommy and daddy and siblings were bombed to oblivion or shot by an overhead U.S / NATO gunship. or some camera captures an old couple who lost their children in the same way.

Or are we supposed to SEE the soldiers for who they are starting with the KILL TEAM in afghanistan who shoot small children for fun and then dismember them keeping their body parts are trophies. Or should we be asked to see soldiers in their true light who line up civilians to check them and then shoot these unarmed civilians on PRE-EMPTIVE shoot /strike policy at the slightest hint of suspecion. Perhaps we should see them piling up naked civilian captives in Abu Gharib in a pyramid or hooking them up to live wires and electricuting them or hanging them upside down and water boarding them for fun.

Should we see them in their true light, bombing hospitals, schools and homes, raping the women and children there and even raping fellow soldiers? Shouldn't someone SEE the victims as humans too? instead of the mad dogs that they were portrayed to be and killed like animals without remorse or pity?

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Marie W.
Marie W6 years ago

Many do not get the point- all the reunion films are exploitation of the military. Do we see films of the military member leaving; the family falling apart; the return of bodies in bags, the severely wounded; the divorces? No! these would make people question the war. Allowing your self and your family to used to keep the war going forever is disgraceful and shows are little you understand about manipulation.

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Tara Treez
Tara Treez6 years ago

Maria D,

I am a wife of a United States Marine who is currently deployed in Afghanistan.. to read what you said disgusted me. If it wasnt for men like my husband you wouldnt be doing what your doing on a daily basis. For you to say anything about the pay they make is NON of your bussiness. If only you knew what they made you wouldn't have said that. My husband is on the front line risking his life day in and day out for people like you who sit here and critisize his pay? would you risk your life for barely being paid? NO which is exactly why your not a Marine. I had my child this year while my husband has been deployed and am i sitting her being mad at him because he wasnt here for the support? NO i support my husband in everything and anything he does. nobody asked for you to agree on what they are being paid and what they are doing. So before you go and say what you feel about them imagine going everyday not knowing if your husband was alive risking his life for people like you who dont understand the concept of the things marines and fellow military men and woman do.

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Christine S.

I think if the shows are well done, it gives the rest of us some hope that there is something good going on in the world- not just death and hopelessness. If we are inspired by the show, maybe we will send a support package or give a donation to the USO so that a service member who can't come home just yet will know we are thinking about them...

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Sheri Bender-Schongold
Sheri Schongold6 years ago

Kudos to both the military personnel and their families. They all go through a hell we will never know and hopefully never have to know. They are going thru this to give all of us, including Maria D., the right to say what she wants, but remember this, if she looks around she will most likely find that her family went thru it so she wouldn't have to.

Maria D. lighten up. No one says you have to join the military, but DON'T BE NASTY TO THOSE WHO DO. Unfortunately they (have to) do it for people like you who don't appreciate it.

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