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Friday, March 01, 2024 

As GI Joe turns 60, CNN says a "big" query comes up they don't clearly answer

A writer for CNN gave some history of the Hasbro-owned toy franchise that later spawned comics and cartoon spinoffs, and notes where it stands today. But, at the beginning:
Like any good soldier, the all-American toy has always adapted to his terrain, reflecting a changing America. From early Cold War flag-waving to Reagan-era global adventurism to post-9/11 ambivalence, the iconic action figure has also served his country as a cultural historian. But how relevant is the sexagenarian war toy today? Do kids still play with G.I. Joes? And is that a good thing?
One could validly ask if it's a good thing if the view of the Joes became "ambivalent" post-911. Does that mean they think it's great if Hasbro and company didn't have the courage to confront the issue of Islamic terrorism head-on? Or if suddenly, they couldn't decide how to even so much as depict Joe vs. Cobra as good vs. evil? Well that's not good. Serious issues aren't solved through division.

Along the way, the article also tells something fishy about the original series finale:
The comic, as well as most of the “file cards” on the backs of the toy packages, were written by Larry Hama, a Vietnam vet. “A military comic was the last thing I wanted to do,” he said in a recent interview, but a gig was a gig. He made the comic more serious in tone than the PG cartoon, and it was praised for its surprising complexity and artistic innovation. He also used the final issue as an antiwar statement, with Snake Eyes writing, “there is no honor or glory in the primary occupation of the soldier … there is no winning.”
Well if you must know, while that wasn't the end as it all picked up where things left off by the time IDW got the license, it's regrettable if this really was an "anti-war" statement, in the sense that, if you can't say it's good when vermin are wiped out, but bad that there'll still be more down the road, or that better education might improve a dire situation in the long run, then what's being accomplished? But then, Larry Hama has long proven a stooge for the left, and made no secret of his embarrassingly bad leftist positions since that time. What's irritating is how these leftists never make a clear argument against barbarism. Instead, it all boils down to a vision that blurs differences between good and evil, and that's very problematic. It's practically what led to 9-11, and even the Hamas' massacre on October 7, 2023 in Israel, among other tragedies.

Also in focus is animator Ron Friedman's approach to the cartoon:
Friedman unabashedly based the show’s tone on his own worldview. Growing up in West Virginia, he regularly suffered from antisemitism, finding strength in comic books like Superman. It’s that sense of unflinching optimism that he brought to G.I. Joe, and which proved to be the show’s secret weapon. “If there is fear, there are champions out there to help you overcome it,” he told The Hollywood Reporter in 2016.

The show was criticized for its unrealistic, sanitized depiction of war, but Friedman also made sure it included messages of unity, inclusion and dedication to others. It was progressive, if not groundbreaking, in its inclusion and depiction of women and people of different ethnicities and backgrounds (Lady Jaye, for example, was realistically proportioned, fully clothed and highly capable).
This kind of PC propaganda has become so cliched, it's not even funny. It's bad enough we're lectured about being progressive, which is left-wing slang, but when the columnist starts making it sound like it's wrong not to depict Lady Jaye, and even Scarlett, as "realistically proportioned and fully clothed", and hinges being highly capable on all that, something is terribly wrong, and insulting to the intellect. One must wonder how a cartoon allegedly criticized for non-reality and sanitizing war somehow becomes okay when women are belittled based on their sexuality. That sounds like distasteful bone thrown to appease the PC fools who can't develop their own cartoon, let alone market it for adults. And from what I can recall seeing of the Joe cartoon from 1983-86, I don't think it ever emphasized Bulgarian culture, if inclusion is such a big deal to them. So, who are CNN and their contributors to lecture us about inclusion anyway? Or dedication and unity? Next comes the post-911 era:
Then came 9/11, and American’s love-hate relationship with combat violence grew even more complicated. The attacks, and early days of the War on Terror, inspired renewed patriotism and a newfound appreciation for service people, but a team of American super soldiers fighting a zealot terrorist organization became a tough sell.

Like with Vietnam, as the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq dragged on, Americans steadily grew uneasy with romanticized depictions of combat and of American rectitude. When a G.I. Joe film was being considered at Paramount — championed by Stan Weston’s son, Brad, who was president of production — the Joes had to be recommissioned.

The 2009 movie, “G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra” changed G.I. Joe to mean “Global Integrated Joint Operating Entity,” an “international co-ed force of operatives who…battle Cobra, an evil organization headed by a double-crossing Scottish arms dealer.” Conservative pundits called it “anti-American.”

The movie missed the mark, bearing little resemblance to the familiar brand and failing to capture its uniqueness and spirit. It made just enough to produce a sequel, 2013’s “G.I. Joe: Retaliation,” and a reboot, “Snake Eyes,” in 2021, neither successful.
Curious no mention that the 1st GI Joe movie was set in Egypt, after misleading rumors it'd be set in someplace like Switzerland, and one character wore an Islamic keffiyeh?!? But then, this same news site never takes issue with the Religion of Peace, if at all, and the writer doesn't seem particularly interested in arguing whether refusal to take a clear stand against evil ideologies, communism included, does more harm than good.

And then, we arrive at a very telling issue about where the toys, if anything, stand today:
But nowadays G.I. Joe is hard to find in stores. The brand seems to mostly rely on online sales to adult collectors, who are willing to spend on deluxe figures and statues to relive their childhood. Young boys, it appears, just aren’t interested anymore.

The obvious reason is Fortnite. Video games have supplanted action figures as boys’ favorite pastime, and militaristic games like Call of Duty and Halo scratch a similar itch to G.I. Joe.
This too is a pathetic effort to dodge more challenging queries like whether modern parents, and even previous generations, have no interest in encouraging their children to have faith in a patriotic example, nor whether leftist indoctrination in schools is contributing to the now revolting atmosphere. Certainly, a valid complaint can still be made that children today spend far too much time on video games and not enough time taking the challenge of reading and writing. Parents, whatever their politics, can be accountable for that. Even so, the writer's failure to address modern contempt for patriotism and selflessness is a severe fault here. Even as he notes the following:
With contemporary notions of “toxic masculinity” (in 2019, the American Psychological Association issued guidelines to address “the pressure of masculinity ideology”), increased sensitivity to violence in children’s media, and anti-imperialist sentiment, as well as credence given to silly ideas like “Thomas the Engine” being an imperialist and “Paw Patrol” being authoritarian propaganda, does G.I. Joe even stand a chance?

Yes. What made G.I. Joe popular in the past is simple. Between the characters, accessories and playsets, it’s an endlessly versatile platform for a child’s imagination. It allows him — or her — to assume the role of the hero, in a way that a video game can’t quite match, even in first-person mode. An action figure is physical and inert, requiring active imagination and allowing full control over the play.
Unfortunately, the attacks on masculinity and even femininity over the past decade have taken a considerable toll, and the writer's clearly not up to addressing the deeper issues involved, psychologically or otherwise. That he even dragged women's dress designs and physics into the mess also dampens the impact, as it reeks of sex-negative hysteria, another problem that obscures far more serious issues. The part about sensitivity to violence and anti-imperialism is also peculiar, because there's not enough of either, and much of Hollywood's not willing to consider whether they crossed any lines. Come to think of it, the part sounds worrisomely like concerns about the 2 issues are unjust, which conflicts with concerns about whether beliefs masculinity and femininity are "toxic" is hurting society. If he doesn't have any complaints about Islamofascism, that's why his citation of anti-imperialism makes little sense. Of course, if anti-imperialism is an allusion to anti-American sentiment, then the writer's making a grave error of throwing the USA under the bus by stealthily attacking patriotic values. In which case, he's botching whatever jerry-built points he's trying to make.

And has he paid any attention to what went wrong with GI Joe comics at the time IDW had the license? If the people in charge can't uphold better values, that's why the comics won't remain a good carry-over for the franchise legacy. It's far from surprising then, that Hama may be the scribe whom the comics will end with, much as it all began over 40 years ago, because few have proven worthy to continue the comics legacy, and those precious few like Chuck Dixon have since been blacklisted by the leftists. That's why the Joe legacy is bound to end with a whimper, depending how things go from here.

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  • From Jerusalem, Israel
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