Tuesday, November 05, 2013

UnderArmour & Northwestern Promote "Gore Porn"

No one has ever been foolish enough to tell me to get over my son's death.  If they did, I would point to this story nearly 10 year later and say "combat death, the gift that keeps giving" The hard part about grieving is the unexpected reminders of your loved one's death and blood splattered anything is a reminder of mine.

Yesterday, Under Armour proudly announced on their Facebook page "More than 35,000 empowered Warriors inspired the Northwestern Uniforms. On November 16, 2013, Northwestern will take the field to pay special tribute to more than 35,000 empowered Warriors." 18  of these blood splattered unis, gloves, helmets were boastfully displayed. 

I'll not address the breach of flag etiquette here, others will handle that quite nicely.  For me this is personal. When my son, 1Lt Ken Ballard deployed to Iraq in May 2003, I imagined how terrible it would be for him to be wounded or killed while deployed. I didn't think about the graphic details of the possible blood splatter, I just prayed every day for his safety.  Then, as happened to 4485 other US families, I received that knock on the door and my son came home in a flag covered casket.

My comment on the Under Armour Facebook page "Please tell me what is honorable about these blood spattered uniforms? How does this honor the wounded warriors and the fallen of our country? As the mother of a fallen soldier, I am sick to my stomach. You tout your "product" to " make all athletes better through passion, design, and the relentless pursuit of innovation". This product is none of these! You should be ashamed!"  I guess this product  is okay, as long as the blood splatter is on our flag or some other reasonable facsimile. This show of faux patriotism, that wrapping ones self in a flag gives cover to any statement, got old real fast.  It is neither honorable or patriotic.

To cover their insensitive, crass commercialism, Northwestern states on their website that 10% of proceeds from the sales of replica jerseys will go to the Wounded Warrior Project-
"The Wildcats will be wearing this jersey against Michigan November 16. Under Armour designed this jersey honoring the men and women of our armed services. Now you can support the Wounded Warrior Project and your favorite team with this replica jersey designed to match those that the Wildcats will wear on the field. The uniform incorporates a custom stars & stripes design on the shoulders & sleeves and includes a core value embellishment, "Freedom," printed on the back."Believe in Heroes" lettering is embroidered at the bottom hem. WWP is a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization that aims to honor and empower wounded soldiers. 10% of the proceeds from the sale of this jersey will be donated to the WWP."
I am sure there will be approval from the 99% of Americans who carried none of the burdens of these wars, but I wonder about the military families who now care for their wounded warriors, and the friends and families of the fallen. I also wonder if this will trigger any symptoms of PTS to those troops who had to see and clean up the actual blood of their wounded and fallen brothers and sisters.  

It will be interesting to see how Under Armour and Northwestern University handle the backlash that this campaign has caused.  Deadspin's headline was aptly titled Northwestern Honors Wounded Troops With Gore-Porn Football Uniforms stating "isn't "flag covered in blood" a little on-the-nose for something honoring a group that operates programs for injured veterans?" Porn, it is.war porn, gore porn, you decide.
If you feel inclined to share your feelings about this supposed tribute, please share them here or contact  Northwest Head of Athletics at NU j-phillips@northwestern.edu, or call the UnderArmour Company at 888.727.6687. Don't forget to contact them on Facebookand Twitter +Under Armour, too.


Anonymous said...
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Michael Burke said...

It's not "blood spatter," but I can see how it could be misinterpreted. The Flag pattern is supposed to be "distressed," like a 50 to 100 yr old door or widow with part of the paint cracked/peeling to show a layer beneath. It's not "gore," it isn't.

Anonymous said...

Sorry, I agree. I think it is tasteless and hurtful to see. Blood shed for profit? That's what they are doing...Does it surprise me who is benefiting from it? nope!

Anonymous said...

Only 10% going to the foundation, hell that's more than likely less than the sales tax charged. If you really want to help and not just sell jerseys give at least 50% of proceeds. This just a gimmick to sell jerseys and make someone some money and still get associated with Wounded Warrior Project.

Anonymous said...

First let me say that I am sorry for your loss. I am a combat vet and also a former employee of WWP. Triggers are tough. I was at dinner with a group of wounded vets and fireworks started at a nearby event. It was a terrible trigger for many of them. Obviously unintended but the consequences were real. I would just say that they need to be careful about things like this as there can be unintended consequences.

Anonymous said...

I think it is shameful and totally distasteful. As a former employee of WWP, I also think they should be held accountable. They are involved and have to approve the uniforms since it is "their brand". So not only should you contact UA, Northwestern, but WWP since they are a part of this. I support the injured servicemen and women and their families and they don't need any type of reminder, even if some think it is not!

Michael said...

I will be buying one...there is NOTHING offensive about these uniforms...nothing.

Mason Martin said...

I think you are misinformed as to what the jerseys symbolize. These arent glorifying the casualties of war and it isnt "gore porn." I personally think the jerseys are nice and respectful, but I don't take every little thing in the world to offense. Sorry for your loss, but dont spend your days bashing a company and a school for doing something good for people.