About once a week during the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, sailors of the aircraft carrier USS Enterprise were treated to a number of homemade movies via closed-circuit television. The films were of the irreverent, sketch-comedy variety, featuring profanity, masturbation jokes, gay slurs, and female sailors showering together. At center stage was Capt. Owen Honors, an executive officer and second-in-command of the ship. Now Honors, who's risen to commander of the USS Enterprise, is being investigated by the Navy for his involvement in the videos. According to Time, he'll most likely lose command of his ship.
How damning are the videos? You can decide for yourself, thanks to The Virginian-Pilot newspaper, which uncovered the films and uploaded excerpts to the Web. While some say the clips' use of gay slurs merit Honors's firing others are taking a softer stance. Here's the video followed by commentary:
- This Is Completely Out of Line, writes Mark Thompson at Time: "It's worth noting: these weren't made by some testosterone-crazed solo aviator, but the No. 2 officer aboard a Navy aircraft carrier, who is slated to head out as its commander shortly. It raises as many questions about the Navy as it does about him."
- It's Actually Pretty Tame "Yeah, OK, they used the F-bomb and they made some toilet jokes," writes Jonn Lilyea at This Ain't Hell. "I guess civilian journalists have a different idea of what is funny." Wired's Spencer Ackerman is similarly unsurprised in reaction to the crass jokes and bathroom humor. "I know, I know: an old-school sailor talking dirty; shocking stuff," he writes. "Warning: they are boring," cautions Gawker's Adrian Chen before displaying the clips.
- The Video Is Unacceptable, writes Adam Weinstein at Mother Jones:
Young uniformed men on deployments concoct terrible fantasies and pastimes to sublimate their sexual tension, their ennui, their insecurity. Some of their leaders simply ignore this caustic brew. Some tolerate none of it. And then there are others, like Honors, who acknowledge it openly, who hope to enhance the calm and the morale by making light of it. When the result is an "I'm on a Boat" or Lady Gaga parody, fair enough. But when the result is Honors' lowlight reel, you've got yourself a real WTF? moment. He should have known better.
- He Really Put a Lot of Work Into These! writes Spencer Ackerman at Wired:
The inappropriate content may land Honors in trouble. But what’s most striking about the videos is how much time Honors put into them. These aren’t filmed with a single camera: there are multiple, semi-professional cuts and sweeps, with relatively high-quality voiceovers and post-production work. It’s Avatar or Inception, compared to the flicks that ordinarily come out of a military public affairs office. In the “fag SWO-boy” segment, Honors appears in three roles simultaneously, demonstrating the editing skill of his crew.
- Honors Has to Be Kicking Himself Right Now, writes Glenn Davis at Mediaite: "[He] certainly won't be looking forward to the fallout from the videos, which even if they entertained a majority of their intended audience (and contained some pretty impressive editing), are going to place him under intense scrutiny.
- Facebook Users Defend Honors, notes Lisa Holewa at AOL News:
A Facebook fan page set up for supporters of the Enterprise was abuzz today with talk of the story, with many people commenting that they support Honors and appreciated his movies and humor. One post read: "The XO movie night was one of the few things we looked forward to during deployment in '06. It is a shame that this distraction has been stirred up now years later."