The War On Uncoolness: A Short Video from Leave No Trace

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Leave No Trace from Michael Ramsey on Vimeo.

I'll tell you what.  The reasons for packing a squirt gun along on any awesome trip will never end.  Add "putting out a campfire" to the list.

I was going to do some witty waxing about how clever and cute this video is.  Boys playing in the forest with squirt guns and camo to extinguish an abandoned campfire: what's not cool about that?  It's also making a statement - one I applaud - about campfire responsibility. Then I was thinking, "Really?  LNT chooses to infer 'put out your fire or we're sending special ops'?" It's practically a threat. I left it at that and decided the video is harmless and cute.

Anna, the 16-year-old Ukrainian student who is staying with us right now, sat down next to me as I was reviewing the video. She wanted to see what I was up to. I told her, "Check this out, this is fun."

This is where the story changes.

She watched, and just moments into it her eyes grew wide, her mouth dropped and she said, "This is not funny."  It only took me about three seconds to understand why she thought little boys playing in military outfits with guns was nothing short of appalling - and I was embarrassed for a moment for laughing at this video.  Throughout the 1990s, after the break up of the Soviet Union, several countries endured civil unrest, and average households dealt with military invasion. The Russian-Georgian War was just two years ago (Georgia shares the Black Sea with Ukraine and other countries). Anna comes from a region where it's quite possible that someone in every generation knows what it feels like to watch men in uniform and weapon come through the front door of the house and force everyone to lay down on their faces.

But I tried to explain why this video was not just cute, but also good - and therefore not terrifying, "Boys here in the U.S. like to play like this and it's okay. They're doing good by putting out the fire. It's a little sarcastic and playful."

"Yes, I understand but it's not funny to me."

So I don't know what to think of this.

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