Warfare Trident insignia worn by qualified U.S. Navy SEALs c/o Wikimedia Commons.
It’s hard to criticize the Disney corporation for trademarking the phrase “Seal Team VI”. In specifics because there has been no indication of what they plan to do with it—besides, you know, make a lot of money. For the ends of reaping the green from off-hand mentions of the canonized, elite military force that killed the world’s most wanted terrorist on news networks, one imagines the venture hasn’t been very profitable in the short-term. Trademarking popular phrases and songs is not exactly throwing your money behind gold while the market is low. Ever been to a chain restaurant on your birthday? There’s a reason the waiting staff is not allowed to sing you “Happy Birthday,” or at least the version you remember.
That said, imaginations can just run wild with the sickening possibilities: A “Seal Team VI” Pixar film, a “Kill Bin Laden” ride at Disney Land, a Saturday morning cartoon a la “Buzz Lightyear,” or at the very worst—an ‘appearance’ on “Hannah Montana.” Go ahead and call these visions preposterous, but keep in mind that this is Disney we’re talking about; the same studio that turned an American mistake as ugly and unsettling as the Vietnam War into kid-friendly entertainment. Did anyone think a movie like Operation: Dumbo Drop was possible? I didn’t and I was eight years old when it came out. Just imagine what that board room pitch meeting was like.
I know most of pop culture really hasn’t gotten the memo yet, but mixing Disney with any sort of current event sounds about as good of an idea as holding a lighter in front of a bottle of hair spray and aiming it at your sofa. I’m not really sure if the powers that be at the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office have any discretion over the matter or if they’re forced by law to grant anyone a trademark who hands in the paper work first. If they do, well, they probably should have used it.
One of the great things about Memorial Day (a happy day off to all, by the way) is the fact that, in comparison to nearly every other holiday on the calendar, it’s the least sell-able holiday. With the exception of its much older cousin Veterans Day, there really is no corrupting this day. There are no greeting cards to send, no possible form of gifting—though, it stands to reason that the American flag manufacturing industry makes a killing between now and Veterans Day. Save for the typical car dealership sales, Memorial and Veterans Days seem the most honorable of holidays in terms of commercialism. Really, what is there more to do on this day than go see a parade? Which is as it should be. If Madison Avenue has any sense of restraint, Memorial Day provides ample opportunity to witness it.
This year, Memorial Day arrives at a time when even 9/11 jokes have seen their limited but growing acceptance into the mainstream, especially since Bin Laden’s death. With the witch dead, America can now finally piss on the ashes and could give a damn if anyone thinks we shouldn’t. Don’t take that last sentence as the sarcasm of a hopeless peace dove bemoaning stadiums of frustrated Americans hungry for good news chanting “USA.” While the news of Bin Laden’s death was fresh, we wasted no time in celebrating and maybe this slightly horrifying bit of legal work is just an unfortunate side effect of the hangover—that inappropriately drunken text we now deeply regret sending to our girlfriend’s best friend only on the morning after. That’s not to say we didn’t deserve to party.
While those soldiers and their families no doubt struggle to maintain their privacy and safety, looking to make any sort of profit off of their continued sacrifice is unconscionable. Only on Memorial Day do we remember that even in our free society how little remains truly as sacred as the service of our Armed Forces. Though we constantly (and embarrassingly) struggle in our every day politics to articulate the freedoms therein, we’re reminded that there are still those who will take advantage of any opportunity to line their own wallets with cash. Support of our troops may never be questioned, but exploiting them? Hey, why not, Mickey?