World famous peace icon Archbishop Desmond Tutu and eight other Nobel Peace Prize winners have called for the cancellation of the newest reality show that has celebrity contestants competing alongside U.S. service members in military-style training exercises.
In a letter to the NBC television network, the Nobel laureates complained the “Stars Earn Stripes” show sanitized war by likening it to an athletic competition.
“Real war is down in the dirt deadly. People – military and civilians – die in ways that are anything but entertaining,” the letter said.
The reality show, which was heavily promoted during NBC’s Olympic coverage and premiered Monday night, includes eight celebrity contestants firing automatic weapons and engaging in other combat exercises. Superman actor Dean Cain, singer Nick Lachey, boxer Laila Ali and Todd Palin, husband of former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, are taking part.
The show’s host, retired Army General Wesley Clark, said at the top of the show, “I’m doing this series for one reason: to introduce you, the American people, to the individuals who sacrifice so much for all of us.”
The letter by the Nobel Prize winners, sent Monday to Clark, Chairman of NBC Entertainment Robert Greenblatt and producer Mark Burnett, said, “This program pays homage to no one anywhere and continues and expands on an inglorious tradition of glorifying war and armed violence.”
The letter also called the show “a massive disservice to those who live and die in armed conflict and suffer its consequences long after the guns of war fall silent.”
In response to the criticism, NBC released a statement to the Associated Press that said: “This show is not a glorification of war, but a glorification of service.”
Eighty-year-old Desmond Tutu was awarded the Nobel Peace prize in 1984 for his efforts to end apartheid in South Africa. The other Nobel laureates who signed the letter were American anti-landmines campaigner Jody Williams, Iranian lawyer Shirin Ebadi, former East Timor President Jose Manuel Ramos-Horta, Argentine artist Adolfo Perez Esquivel, Guatemalan indigenous rights activist Rigoberta Menchu Turn, and peace campaigners Mairead Maguire and Betty Williams of Northern Ireland.
The Nobel laureates also supported a protest against the show Monday outside NBC’s Rockefeller Center headquarters in New York.