A Marine Reserve officer is taking some heat for an opinion piece he wrote analyzing the reaction to a viral video in which Marines filmed themselves belting out the lyrics to the girl-power anthem, “Let It Go.”
In a piece for The Daily Beast titled “Why these Marines love ‘Frozen’ and why it matters,” Aaron B. O’Connell — a lieutenant colonel in the Reserve and history professor at the U.S. Naval Academy — said the public’s reaction to the video is flawed. Those who were calling it “adorable” missed the point, he wrote.
Instead, he says the Marines’ performance is a glimpse into how the military treats sex and violence. The video wasn’t about their love for Disney sing-alongs, he wrote. Instead, it highlighted the Marines’ lust over the the sexy cartoon princess who let down her hair and got a new dress with a slit up her leg, his piece stated.
“That most of the Marines’ millions of online admirers confused lust with a love of sing-alongs is a comic misunderstanding,” the piece states. “It reveals just how unaware most Americans are of how their military prepares young people to do violence in defense of the nation.”
Those who commented on O’Connell’s piece suggested he was over-analyzing the video that was simply meant to be funny. But he said there needs to be a conversation about the chemical connection between violence and sex, since both stem from the same hormone: testosterone.
While military life does a good job of allowing Marines to channel testosterone on the violence side through teaching them how to kill, it doesn’t always provide room for a healthy sex life, he wrote.
“Testosterone is the critical ingredient of molding young people into violent instruments, and while there are ample tools for directing soldiers’ impulses on the battlefield, barracks life and base demographics give young people few opportunities for healthy adult sexual relationships,” his piece states.
O’Connell told Marine Corps Times that those who interpreted his piece as critical of the Marines in the video were wrong.
“There’s nothing wrong with young Marines finding the Elsa character sexy — after all, that’s how Disney drew her,” he said. “In fact, the piece didn’t criticize those Marines at all. It criticized the many civilians who can only seem to think of Marines as G-rated super heroes or X-rated predators.”
In his piece, O’Connell said it’s important to stop viewing Marines between those two extremes.
“Military life is not a Disney film, but neither is it X-rated,” he wrote. “And yet, the national conversation on sex and violence seems stuck between these two extremes — presenting troops as either fairy tale heroes or out-of-control predators. Let’s elevate the dialogue.”
Whether people understood his point or not, O’Connell said it’s good that there’s increased attention on the issue of sexual assault.
“It is a serious problem for our Corps and for the armed forces in general,” he said. “But another major point of the article was to demand that people use evidence when they make claims. Politicians and news pundits alike speak of an ‘epidemic’ of military sexual assault, but they have no idea if there is more or less sexual assault in the military than there is in civilian society. I think that’s irresponsible.”