The XVIII Airborne Corps tweeted an image to celebrate esprit de corps Monday: “Who has the Army’s coolest patch? You decide,” the Tweet said. “Every day during this week we’ll showcase 4 unit patches. At 8PM EDT every night, we’ll let you vote on the coolest patch [and you know this account loves Twitter polls]. Each night’s winner will move forward to Saturday’s final vote!” Below was a picture of the villainous superheroes from The Boys with various unit patches superimposed on their heads.
The Boys is an ultra-violent parody of American exceptionalism and superhero-dominated pop culture. Its creator Garth Ennis actively hates superheroes and has written multiple comic books exploring this hatred. The XVIII Airborne Corps used the image of the show and comic book’s most reprehensible characters—The Seven. These characters are explicitly villains. They are racists who deal drugs, murder, and sexually assault normal people, and lord their abilties over anyone they can.
After the Tweet went out, the U.S. Army’s primary account retweeted it. “Who has the Army’s coolest patch?,” it said. “YOU decide.”
The XVIII Airborne Corps deleted the tweet and reached out to journalist Kelsey Atherton, who had noticed how weird it was that the XVIII Airborne was embracing the super villains. “We humbly apologize about that, sir. Bit of a mix up with that graphic,” XVIII Airborne Corps said in a DM to Atherton which he showed to Motherboard. “We really mean no offense by that at all.”
The XVIII Airborne Corps has not returned Motherboard’s request for comment.
The American military has a long history of embracing the aesthetics of super villainous pop culture power. Darth Vader and Stormtroopers attended a Space Force swearing in ceremony in May. The Pentagon’s various websites are littered with photographs of soldiers, sailors, and Marines decked out as Star Wars villains. It sees itself as a force for good in the world, but the U.S. Military has committed numerous atrocities. The firebombing of Japan during World War II, the My Lai massacre in Vietnam, and the torture of prisoners in Abu Ghraib prison during the second invasion of Iraq are just some of the highlights.
It should worry us that the people in charge of the military so readily identify with the villains in our pop culture. It’s also wild that no one caught this before it went out. The Pentagon is famously slow to act online. Twitter accounts come with hefty manuals detailing how they should be used. The deployment of a meme on a DoD Cyber Command account required a 20-page report before posting.