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A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this TV show.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Starting Strong, which airs on YouTube and some Fox stations, is a recruitment tool for the U.S. Army presented as a reality series. The series highlights the many benefits that the U.S. Army offers, as well as the skills necessary for being a good soldier. Military weapons are visible (and sometimes deployed in training sessions), and strong vocab ("s--t") is bleeped. Kids with an interest in the military will be drawn to it, but some of the show's content may be too intense for younger tweens. Parents might want to make sure young viewers understand the intent of the series, since it might not be clear that the U.S. Army is producing the series.
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What's the story?
STARTING STRONG is a series that follows potential military recruits as they participate in a unique army training experience. Hosted by Staff Sergeant Kristin King, the series features a young man or woman who is thinking about joining the army. Cameras follow as s/he goes to a base and spends a few days training with the help of experienced soldiers, or battle buddies, in different military occupational specialties, like avionic mechanics and combat medicine. The potential recruit also gets mentored by leaders, and experiences what life is like on the base during down time. At the end of the experience, s/he must decide if s/he has what it takes to enlist, or if they will stick to civilian life.
Is it any good?
Starting Strong, which is produced by actor Ricky Schroder and airs on You Tube, offers viewers a unique behind-the scenes look at what life is like as a soldier after boot camp. It underscores the kinds of traits that make a good soldier, and highlights the positive ways that joining the military has changed people's lives. It also notes how the skills developed in military service can open doors for soldiers once they return to civilian life.
It's presented as a reality show, but the series is really a thinly disguised modern-day recruitment video produced in part by the U.S. Army. Nonetheless, those who are interested in the military will find it interesting, while others may find the messages it offers about hard work, honor, teamwork, and patriotism inspiring.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about how the military is presented in the media. Why do you think the U.S. Army agreed to have some of what they do featured on a reality series? To educate the public about the many things they do? To encourage people to enlist? To share their pride about what they do?
What are some of the most famous military-themed films and TV series? How realistic are they? Do you think the way the military is depicted in films and TV shows from the past is very different from the way it's represented today?
Talk about propaganda. What's the difference between entertainment, advertising, and propaganda? What information do the producers of this series leave out? What would make this a more well-rounded look at what military service is like? Is there anything problematic with presenting a one-sided account?
Themes & Topics
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