Three Times as Many Thumbs Down to “Wear My Medals on The Left” As Thumbs Up.
On Nov. 6, 2018, the Australian War Memorial posted a music video on YouTube by the choral group, “Sisters in Arms” of the Australian military. Just like the well-intentioned viral Rebecca Black “Friday” video of 2011 that garnered a staggering 127-million views with 3.3-million “thumbs down”, this attempt at a pop music/military inspiration mash-up seems to have stepped on a social media landmine.
As of this writing over three times as many people have given “I Wear My Medals on the Left” a “thumbs down” as have liked it. Despite professional production and sound quality, the video seems, well, just weird. And while supporting the troops and their sacrifices is a noble sentiment, the video and song have an uncomfortable feel to them. Even if you have stood in awe of a chorus of M1 Abrams tanks firing a salvo downrange, something about a fresh-faced folk singer doing sassy nose-crinkles while singing about it just feels off. It’s like casting Taylor Swift in a remake of “Full Metal Jacket”.
Dislikes for the video on YouTube have accelerated in the last 24 hours when we first checked in on it. Initially about 50% of the responses to the video on YouTube were “thumbs up”. Now the trend has rapidly reversed with 1,400 “thumbs down” compared to only 378 “thumbs up”.
“The Daily Mail” tabloid trounced the video. Columnist Hannah Moore of Daily Mail Australia wrote, “Three female defense force members have been slammed for their part in a song promoting women serving in the military.” Moore went on to write, “Members of ‘Sisters in Arms’, a three-piece ensemble made up of one woman from the army, one from the navy and one from the air force, have been subject to brutal attacks online since the song went up, with many believing the tune has disadvantaged women who are serving.”
This isn’t the first time a music video has portrayed women’s role in the military. Other depictions have not been subject to nearly as much social media vitriol.
In March 2012 pop sensation Katy Perry released the video for her single, “Part of Me” from her successful “Teenage Dream” album. The video depicted Perry as a jilted girlfriend who joins the U.S. Marines to become an infantryman after a relationship gone bad. The U.S. Marines contributed to the production of the video with U.S Marines, Marine equipment and aircraft featured in the video that earned 724,369,130 views on YouTube with 2.6 million “thumbs up” to 146 thousand “thumbs down”. The key difference is likely that the Katy Perry video was intended for and released to a young, pop music audience whereas “Wear My Medals on the Left” is a made by military, made for military production that appears to have not resonated with its intended audience.
“Wear My Medals on the Left” has also taken a beating on the Australian War Memorial Facebook page where one viewer wrote on the comments page, “You may have meant well, but this is NOT a positive message. As a woman, I’m so embarrassed by this song I am almost lost for words. How are women ever meant to fit in and be taken seriously in their role in Defense when this is how you promote them? The lyrics are so weak and corny. Sorry but you totally missed the ball on this one.”
Debate about the song aside, the video provides a few good looks at the Australian Defense Force. Part of the video shows a Visit, Board, Search and Seizure (VBSS) mission being launched from the HMS Adelaide landing helicopter ship (LO1). The aircraft shown are an SH-60 Seahawk of the 816 Squadron and an MRH90 helicopter of 808 Squadron. There is also a brief glimpse at an Australian CH-47D Chinook on the flight deck of the Adelaide.
If you can hang in there long enough with the video you also get a look at some Aussie PC-9 trainers, a few Australian F/A-18s and an impressive formation of C-130s. Noticeably absent are any new Australian F-35A Lightning IIs.