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August 3, 2009

G.I. Joe - Real American Hero? Depends Who You Ask

I'm of two minds about going to see the new G.I. Joe movie that opens this coming weekend. Of course, the obvious problem is that it could really suck, though I have a feeling the quality will be similar to Transformers, in the sense that it's loud, lots of action, storyline will be kind of pointless, but it will be fun.

I loved the toys that this movie is based on when I was a kid. I didn't grow up with "G.I. Joe", the 12-inch action figures that my brother had. I grew up with the toy line and team that's going to be in this movie, the sub-title to which was "A Real American Hero." This was the 80s, and Reagan had made the country again proud of its military after the post-Vietnam years.

This movie will end all of that. But you wouldn't know it from its viral marketing to the American Heartland.

There's an article in today's LA Times about the marketing of this movie (h/t: Big Hollywood) that really blew me away. Basically, they're hiding the fact that in the new movie, G.I. Joe is an "international team of crack operatives" (excuse me while I laugh my head off).

Obviously, it's all there if you actually do some research, but the advertising by itself is designed to make you not want to research; instead, you'll get excited about it and go without checking into it.

"G.I. Joe" is embedded in the Kid Rock and Lynyrd Skynyrd concert tour, advertised at the Country Music Television Awards and excerpted on giant video screens at Minnesota's Mall of America. It is bombarding Kansas City, Charlotte, Columbus and Grand Rapids on new digital billboards.

The subtext is none too subtle: Critics are likely to roast the film, and fanboys of the original toy line and comic book may be indifferent, but if you're a flag-waving, Nascar-loving American, it's practically your patriotic duty to see this movie."

Meanwhile, marketing outside the United States emphasizes the international aspect, almost saying "it's ok to see this movie. It's not a bunch of jingoistic American hicks showing off their military hardware."

It saddens me that it's come to this. Where is the movie for those of us who are proud of our soldiers? I know Transformers did a good job on this, but I want more than one movie every couple of years. I know it's too much to ask for a serious movie championing the military, but I'd settle for a couple more like that one.

Part of me just wants to boycott the movie based on that. However, the other part of me is getting the same feel I got from Transformers, making me itching to see it.

I guess you'll know soon after I do whether or not I saw it.


  1. I assure you, this movie will not make me any more or less proud of our military. (Possibly because there's about zero chance I'll see it...)

    One of my nursing school classmates' husband left for Afghanistan today. He will go for two weeks, come back for a few days, and then deploy for at least a year. They have three kids; 16 years, 8 years, and a brand new baby (Jean says she has to have a baby every 8 years, lol). It's hard to know what to say to someone who is doing such a huge service for our country... but we've thanked them profusely and will help support Jean as she finishes our final nursing schoo term as a single parent with a newborn and two older kids (not to mention she commutes an hour to school, like I do - only from north of the Cities rather than south).

    No G.I. Joe movie (or any movie), regardless of content, could possibly change how I feel about them. It's almost unbelievable to imagine similar scenarios playing out around the country... kind of gives you chills, doesn't it?

  2. It is hard to know what to say sometimes. I've heard so many times that soldiers love it when people come up to them and thank them for their service, but for some reason I can't bring myself to do it when I see one at the airport. I always feel like I'm intruding or something.

    But I think you missed the point of this post, though. I'm not saying that this movie, or any other movie will change anybody's opnion of the military (though some of the anti-Iraq war movies are designed to change people's opinions, I believe). What saddens me is that Hollywood can't seem to acknowledge the heroism of our military.

    Instead, they make movies that portray the military in a bad light, as a bunch of raving psychopaths or in other negative lights. In the Valley of Elah and others of the ilk. I'm not saying that there aren't soldiers like that, but Hollywood never seems to portray the heroism of the American soldier.

    In G.I. Joe's case, what bothers me is that they can't make the heroes American soldiers. Instead, they have to change it into an elite international organization. Ok, maybe one or two of them will be Americans, but the whole premise of the team is changed because they don't want to portray the American military as heroic.

    Your friend's husband is a patriot for doing what he's doing, but your friend is, too. I know how hard it is for military families, and doing what she's doing is just as hard in its own way.

    It does give me chills.


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