Something I’ve pondered lately, because I don’t really ponder matters of real importance, is the nature of Marine Corps recruiting commercials in the late 1980s and 90s. Undoubtedly, the Marines have historically had standout advertising compared to their counterparts in other branches.

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Photo via Wikimedia Commons

These days, U.S. military recruitment videos reek of Hollywood sensationalism, as if joining the armed forces will automatically transform you into Jason Bourne. There’s no heart. No soul. No balls. But back in the ‘80s, when men were men and women had mullets, the military’s recruitment strategy was all red, white, and blue. Take this 1988 country music-inflected Army commercial, for example. If this doesn’t make you want to serve your country, well, comrade, you might as well start saving up for that hammer and sickle tattoo now.

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Image via the National Archives

Unlike the robust recruitment efforts of World War I and World War II, recruitment today is more focused on maintaining a standing military. As such there’s more emphasis on character, skill, and career development instead of a call to arms in response to a specific threat.

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