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Army disables comments on new recruiting ads criticized as ‘woke’

The Calling recruitment advertisement featuring "Emma" (GoArmy/YouTube)
May 21, 2021

The U.S. Army quietly disabled comments last week on a new series of recruiting advertisements after receiving thousands of dislikes and critics said the ads show the service is going “woke.”

The series of five new ads, called “The Calling,” launched on May 4, and was posted on various social media channels. Task & Purpose reported that as of May 12, comments had been disabled on all of the new ads.

One of the ads featured a female soldier, Cpl. Emma Malonelord, who describes her upbringing with two lesbian moms and her attendance at LGBT rights parades. Malonelord narrates, “Although I had a fairly typical childhood, took ballet, played violin, I also marched for equality. I like to think I’ve been defending freedom from an early age.”

Laura DeFrancisco, spokeswoman for the Army Enterprise Marketing Office told Task & Purpose that the Army disabled comments on all of the videos after seeing “a significant uptick in negative commentary which … were not aligned with Army values.”

“Out of respect for our soldiers and their families, we have disabled the comments,” DeFrancisco added.

The ad for Malonelord drew a large portion of the critical attention in recent weeks. It generated more than 47,000 “dislikes” on YouTube compared to just more than 1,200 “likes.”

“Army ad about a woman with two lesbian moms who joined the Army to ‘discover her inner strength’ and ‘shatter stereotypes,'” The Daily Wire’s Matt Walsh tweeted. “We are the laughing stock of the world.”

The video had drawn criticism and one Twitter user compared it to recent Central Intelligence Agency recruitment advertisements also deemed “woke” by critics.

“Wow. First it was the woke CIA ad, now it is a super-woke woke animated army recruitment ad featuring a lesbian wedding, an LGBT rights parade and women “shattering stereotypes” by joining the world’s largest killing machine,” Mint Press News staff writer Alan MacLeod tweeted.

A video which splices together a 2017 Russian military ad and places it side-by-side with Malonelord’s cartoon ad was also shared across social media.

Despite the criticisms of the ad, some have also defended the Army’s new direction in recruiting.

One Twitter user tweeted, “Great to see the military embracing – and soldiers being able to enjoy – the freedom and individual liberty it’s always claimed our armed forces are there to fight for and defend,” one user tweeted.

“A lesbian woman enlisting to defend her right and freedom to marry and have a family with another woman – against those who would forcefully deny her this, would be an actual legitimate reason to fight, and for the military to exist,” the user continued. “We WILL defend ourselves, and our freedoms.”

DeFrancisco said the new Army ad series hopes to “close the relatability gap between Gen Z and the Army by offering a rare look at the people behind the uniform.”

DeFrancisco said, “It is important that the soldiers featured in the campaign reflect the incredible diversity of both the Army and the American public – and not just ethnic diversity, but diversity of influences, upbringings, and experiences.”

When the Army unveiled the new ads earlier this month, Maj. Gen. Alex Fink, the chief of Army Enterprise Marketing, said, “Research tells us that young people today see the Army as a ‘distant star’ – a place requiring a nearly superhuman level of discipline with little relevance to their daily lives. Similarly, youth don’t necessarily connect with those who serve or see common ground in terms of interests, abilities, and goals.”

Fink said, “‘The Calling’ shatters these misperceptions by showing that Soldiers are all of us: real people with hopes, dreams, fears, aspirations, families, friends, and obstacles to overcome.”