G.I. Joe: The Real American Police State

Yeah, it’s time to go there.

If you grew up in the 1980’s, there’s no doubt you’ve been exposed to G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero and its ubiquitous themes of good vs. evil. It’s just the kind of thing that we needed to gobble up as children to make us all good, pure Americans: there are hero‘s, there are bad-guys, and the only way to determine what side wins is to duke it out urban-combat style on top of the Statue of Liberty. Back then there wasn’t all this subtext and humor involved in the production of after-school programming: just make sure you can market a toy line (and try not to draw nipples on anything) and you were good to go.

So I’m sitting at work, drowning in a sea of mindless paperwork, dwelling on my misspent youth and then I get to thinking about how G.I. Joe was probably the most suspicious thing running on television in the 1980’s (and yes, that’s what I think about at work because damned it, I can’t leave it up to you). You see, while we were all getting jazzed up about Duke, Flint and the rest of the A-Squad of stock cartoon hero’s suiting up for battle against the D-students of international terrorism, we were secretly selling out our own country to the moneyed interests that now control the world (thanks a lot, Hasboro).

Already I sense I’m losing you, but hang in there because this shit gets deep. Sure, we’ve all got our warm-fuzzy memory goggles on when we think about our old cartoon heroes, but what do we really know about them? Think about G.I. Joe for a moment: Who the hell are these people? I know what they tell us they are, but do you trust the government enough to believe it? Because it’s been my experience that our military has a very strict dress code and half these guys would be thrown in the brig for showing up to work dressed like that. Sure, they all kind of wear something that looks like a military uniform, but it’s all personalized for branding purposes; and then there’s whatever the hell Scarlet was wearing that looks lingerie over a scuba suit.

And let’s not forgot that this was the era before Don’t Ask/Don’t Tell, so does someone want to explain to me what Gung-Ho was all about?

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That guy looks like he’s got his own leather bar named after him. I’m not judging; I’m as liberal as the next guy and I think it‘s great that he‘s open about his sexuality. I’m just saying that back then, you weren’t allowed to be out in the military and there’s no way he wouldn’t have had a couple of “personal conduct hearings” scheduled every other week.

So, were they military? No, they were mercenaries, plain and simple. They didn’t answer to the hierarchy of the American government or the people represented thereby. Maybe they swore an oath or two (they seem like the idealistic types that would do that pretty regularly) but at the end of the day, that paycheck wasn’t coming from the taxpayers.

You might be thinking, whatever, big deal, they‘re American Heroes. Well it is a big deal because look at what kind of hardware they’re working with. They’ve got fighter jets, heavy ordinance missiles, tanks, etc… They’ve even got real, working jetpacks and their own aircraft carrier. I don’t think I’m comfortable with someone’s private military having access to this kind of arsenal, I don’t care how damned American they want to call themselves. I know there’s this huge debate about Second Amendment rights and what they mean and who they mean it for and I’m not here to arbitrate that stuff (yet). I’m just saying that they have all this tech and a huge base that’s got anti-aircraft guns hanging off of it every three feet and I’m wondering what the hell they’re planning because it’s probably not cool.

And who the fuck is bankrolling this? We all know there are bearded, pot-bellied militia guys out there ready to take on the government the moment Jesus gives the go-ahead; but let’s face it, they don’t have the kind of money it takes to buy an aircraft carrier. Even Blackwater can’t cough up that kind of cash. There’s some real high rollers calling the shots over at G.I. Joe headquarters and it’s making me damned suspicious. Anyone else think if you go up the chain of command far enough, you get to one of the Koch brothers?

Speaking of douche-nozzles with dreams of controlling the world, who the hell is Cobra? As far as I can recall, they only had one goal in mind: global domination through brute force, which included such brilliantly drafted schemes like creating a weather device that blows up when you look at it cross-eyed. Who the hell thinks like that? They couldn’t successfully dominate a 7-11, let alone the world. And where are they getting their money from anyways, the other Koch brother? Even so, do they really warrant the kind of resources G.I. Joe is spending fighting them? Wouldn’t we be better off if the Joes were looking at something a bit more pressing, like Al-Qaeda or North Korea? I’m just saying, if they were on the up and up they’d be getting somereal shit done and Cobra Commander would be the laughing stock of Guantanamo Bay right now.

Despite all of this, the part that really gets my hairs up are those stupid PSA’s they ran at the end of every episode. I think we all remember the setup: some prepubescent delinquent sets his mom’s house on fire because it’s the first time he’s ever even seen a lighter and one of the Joe’s shows up in the nick of time to lower the collective I.Q. of America by saving the little brat before natural selection can take its predestined course. Anyone ever wonder why these guys are just wandering around the streets of Every-Where-You-Look America, having private, teachable moments with children? Am I the only one who thinks this is fucking weird? Can you say “propaganda warfare”? I went my entire child-hood without seeing some sweaty mercenary on a playground stopping me from sticking myself with discarded hypodermic needles; and damned it I’m a better man for it.

What the hell are they doing there anyways? Shouldn’t they be in some kind of post-traumatic-stress group-therapy or training for their next mission to save the world or something? No, they’re strolling around ice-cream parlors, looking for the weakest links among us to brainwash, getting us used to seeing paramilitary personnel on the streets for our collective “safety“. Maybe I’m just crazy but that strikes me as being the setup to a complete takeover of America and the beginnings of martial law. Who knows where it goes from there; after all, they’ve got that creepily ambiguous saying: “Knowing is half the battle.”

What’s the other half, ethnic cleansing?

That’s right, I’m on to you, G.I. Joe. I’m out there every day getting the word to the people. You won’t take this country without a fight. The message is resonating: we know who you are and we know what you’re up to. This is our country and it’s not for sale, so your corporate overlords will have to find a new stretch of dirt to invade with its private army. Pack up your troops, your bases, your tanks, your aircraft carriers, leave Scarlet and her leotard behind, and leave us in peace, less you find yourself facing an enemy that uses actual bullets.

Now, if you’ll all excuse me, I have to go take my medication and get back to work.

Taking the Face Off Reality TV

I’m not usually a fan of reality TV, because it’s often aimed at the lowest common denominator. I admit, I watched the first season of Survivor, because there was nothing like it on TV before, but got tired with how the venal people won because it turns out people who play dirty always win in the end.
Still, it got much worse. Suddenly, there were shows about spoiled rich people who would be working at a fast food restaurant if they weren’t living off daddy’s trust fund, because they lack any marketable skills or souls. And, white trash, who would proudly show off their stupidity for small amounts of cash like a homeless man in a bum fight.
Still, once in a great while, there is inspirational reality television. I enjoy the second half of Biggest Loser, since the first half is written by evil corporate executives coming up with creative ways to taunt and mock fat people. But, the second half is about the hard work these people put into becoming… well, better. We watch as these people not only lose weight, but fix psychological damage that had held them back for years. By coincidence, there is usually one couple a year who fall in love and have a successful marriage, which, when you compare that to the Bachelor, where nobody ever ends up happily ever after, seems like quite a magic trick.
My favorite show, partly because it is a genre show, is Face Off on the SyFy Network. Face Off is about ridiculously talented special effects artists who are put in a competition where they are tasked to make different get-ups. One week, they’ll be asked to create zombies in Wonderland, next week it’s a realistic alien creature, still another an original super hero. The show is fun for me because we get to see how creative minds work, the troubles they have to go through, and, shockingly, these creative people actually helping each other out. When it should be in their best interest to watch a colleague fall on their face, they help them open a mold or give an opinion that leads them to a better idea. The show ends with these amazing make-ups, and the worst one has to leave the show. The winner ends up winning money and the chance to do make-up for an actual movie or TV show.
I have had people make snipes about the show – about how real movie shoots wouldn’t put you through that and it’s doubtful any of these people will truly get their dream jobs. But, isn’t it better seeing these successful people showing what it takes to be successful, than to see a teenager getting pregnant in the hopes that their stupidity will lead to an MTV show?