Christian Kitsch, Teen Mania, And SEAL Training

The above video is part of a must see documentary put out by the Discovery Channel that tracks a class of sailors who are trying out to be Navy SEALs. This particular video shows what these soldiers must undergo during Hell week. Five days with little to no sleep; surf torture (hours spent in 50F water); minimal food; constant running, swimming and PT; the constant harassment of their instructors.

SEAL training is designed to weed out up to 80% of the trainees so that only the best will survive and go on to become a covert ‘operator’. These are the type of guys who took out Osama bin Laden and rescued U.S. civilians from Somalian pirates.

It was to my shame and amusement this week that I came across a Teen Mania program called ESOAL that seeks to mimic SEAL training. You can read a first hand account of ESOAL here.

It’s pathetic. I’ve written about Christian kitsch before, but this takes the cake.  The leaders from Teen Mania dress up like SEAL instructors and even mimic their mannerisms. In the Discovery Channel documentary, the SEAL instructors kept saying “It only pays to be a winner.” Anything less than coming in first place is penalized by the instructors. Coming in last place is penalized harshly, which makes sense given the nature of what SEALs do. Coming in last place for them could mean being captured or KIA. I don’t quite see how this relates to chubby Christian kids from El Paso who like Starfield, but this seems to be a slogan that Christian instructors at ESAOL have adopted.

ESAOL participants have to get ‘wet and sandy’ just like SEAL trainees. This means spending long periods of time covered in mud, sand, and ice cold water. And if they want to quit? There’s no private conversation with their counselors. They have to publicly ring a bell in shame, just like SEALs.

Other than being some deluded fantasy by middle aged white guys who’ve watched Platoon too many times, I don’t see what the point of this is. It’s embarrassing and silly to see grown Christian men mimic real life SEAL operators. Unfortunately, this embarrassing mistake isn’t confined to the Christian community. Teen Mania has been the subject of an MSNBC documentary and a report done by a local news station in Texas, which I’ve linked to below.

I’m glad that Ron Luce has taken some advice and cut off his mullet. Now, hopefully, he’ll take some more good advice and get rid of this ESOAL program. And Ron, the ESOAL program I can forgive, but the jury’s out on the mullet. Yeesh.