American troops in Afghanistan have plenty of serious work on their hands--which is why they have an equally serious need to unwind every now and then. And being every bit as wired and media-happy if not a good deal more tech-savvy than many of their civilian counterparts, U.S. soldiers have invented one of the most robustly viral sub-genres on the Internet: The all-soldier lip-synch-and-dance revue, posted on YouTube. Last year, the great sensation was an addictively camp version of Lady Gaga's "Telephone," conceived and choreographed by 24 year old soldier Aaron Melcher and performed by fellow soldiers of the 82nd Airborne Division, some sporting spandex costumes, in their barracks in Farah Province, Afghanistan. This year, however, not to be outdone by their Army brethren, a group of Marines have delivered an inspired if less campy rendition of Britney Spears' "Hold It Against Me," set "somewhere deep" but unspecified "in the heart of Afghanistan," and kicked off with what sounds like a couple of mortar rounds. You can see the performance in all its Semper Fidelis glory below:
This latest contribution to the music video canon from the U.S. military's finest in Afghanistan was posted to YouTube on Monday and has already garnered more than 170,000 views.
It remains to be seen, though, whether the Marines' Spears tribute performance can match the popularity and critical acclaim earned by the 82nd Airborne Division's "Telephone" video, which no less an authority than the Smoking Gun deemed "the most entertaining music video homage ever shot in a war zone." You can evaluate the standard set below:
Not to be outdone by their American allies, the Israeli Defense Forces in Hebron also worked off some of the stress from their patrolling rounds with some flashy dance moves of their own, as my colleague Brett Michael Dykes reported last July:
But even pop culture diversion ultimately takes a back seat to the longstanding tensions of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, as Dykes went on to note:
The clip features six soldiers on patrol in Hebron, which is home to many sites that Jews, Muslims and Christians consider holy. Some 600 Israeli settlers live in the city among roughly 160,000 Palestinians -- which means it has also been the site of tension over the Israeli occupation.
As the soldiers canvass the street with weapons in hand, a muezzin can be heard leading a call for Muslim prayers. Suddenly, Ke$ha's "Tik Tok" abruptly comes on and the six soldiers break out into a dance routine. After a few seconds of hearty gyrating, the soldiers promptly return to their patrol duty and to appropriate military postures.
The Israeli Defense Forces brass is not amused, AFP reports: In a statement, the IDF leadership called the performance a "joke by the soldiers" that amounts to "inappropriate conduct during a military operation" and will be "investigated by battalion commanders."
In other words, the IDF dancers in Hebron by now probably have a very different take on the message of "Hold It Against Me" than their American counterparts do.