G.I. Joe: The (Un) American Hero?

Published 6 years ago by , Updated August 6th, 2012 at 5:18 pm,

gi joe history G.I. Joe: The (Un) American Hero?

G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra is the big summer tentpole of the week and of course, with the premiere of the film comes all the attention uninformed mainstream networks try to pile on at the eleventh hour.

In regards to G.I. Joe, it was an inevitable that we would eventually have to hear one particular voice of dissent speaking up: Those who think that G.I. Joe has been stripped of the ‘Americanness’ that once made it great. I wouldn’t call this news, per se, but it definitely made it onto a major news network (MSNBC), so if you haven’t seen it, take a look at the video before we get into the lengthy debate:


The guy crying foul in the video is John Miller from the Conservative publication National Review. Now before you dogpile Mr. Miller and start tearing him down for expressing his opinion (as it is), let’s at least consider his point of view:


gi joe original action man figures G.I. Joe: The (Un) American Hero?

If you’re over the age of 45, then you’re probably ancient old enough to remember the days when G.I. Joe was a 12″ “Action Man” figurine inspired by WWII soldiers (with some Korean War influences thrown in the mix). The original toy line – launched by Hasbro in 1964 – included four figures corresponding to the four branches of the U.S. Military (Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines). Accessory packs (or “blades” for you old-timers) were sold separately, allowing kids to customize each “Joe” with the “blades” they purchased. If that sounds like Barbie for boys, that’s because it was.

This early incarnation of G.I. Joe was unapologetically an American icon and a proud military warrior crafted in homage of those who were out there in the world, fighting the good fight on behalf of the U.S. And that depiction is exactly what guys like John Miller remember: It is the core essence he feels has been lost from the G.I. Joe franchise with it’s new international scope and Robocop-style’ outfits.

And while it might be easy to say “Let it go, dad,” just take a minute first and think about all the beloved staples of YOUR childhood that have been “ruined” by Hollywood in the last couple years (or will be ruined in the next few years to come). Suddenly it’s easy to sympathize with the cranky old-timers, isn’t it?


gijoe real american hero G.I. Joe: The (Un) American Hero?

Yes G.I. Joe got his start as an over-sized, pro-military, knock-off Barbie doll, but what really turned the franchise into a permanent cultural fixture (and a cash-cow for Hasbro) is undoubtedly the G.I. Joe resurgence of the 80s, which turned a whole new generation (mine) onto the franchise and also coined the phrase “A Real American Hero.”

The 80s G.I. Joe came in the form of “modern” action figures (3.75″ short now), and a toy line that included vehicles, accessories and massive play sets. Hasbro also pioneered new strategies in merchandising with G.I. Joe, marketing the toy line while simultaneously launching other media ventures. These included an accompanying Marvel comic book series and, of course, two installments (1985-87, 1989-91) of an uber-popular cartoon series (and one legendary cartoon movie), which helped lure millions of young kids (me included) into the revamped world of G.I. Joe and their nemesis, an evil terrorist organization known as Cobra.

If you’re between the ages of 20-40, then G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero is probably the G.I. Joe you’re familiar with. Names like Duke, Scarlett, Lady J, Hawk, Snake Eyes, Cobra Commander, Baroness, Destro, Zartan, Serpentor or (my fav) Sgt. Slaughter are ones you know and love – and you certainly know all about epic gunfights using red and blue lasers.

That’s MY G.I. Joe.

Continue reading ‘G.I. Joe: The (Not) American Hero?’

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  1. @ Ken J

    Didn’t ask for a comparison. Asked for a specific opinion, big guy.

    And LYAO all you want. Those years created the NOW we live in, however you might feel about it.

  2. SK-47:

    This movie isn’t going to do huge numbers. It’s been widely regarded as a disaster waiting to be foisted off on the public. Some people are actually saying it’s the worst movie of all time. Clearly that’s an exaggeration, but the advance word is super-bad. They’re just hyping it so they can have a big opening weekend, and then it’s bomb-city, baby!

  3. Republibot 3.0,
    are you really sure about that? I don’t know, this looks to be THE film the summer has been waiting.

  4. @Kofi

    Haha, actually I can give you the exact reasons why we’re in the situation we are in now, but I’d rather not get into that because I know it’s completely against your opinion so out of respect I’ll stay out of it. :-)

    Guess I can’t have too much beef about 2000-2008 because within that period I was able to get a house and it’s now almost completely paid off and a new luxury vehicle that’s completely paid off… I guess I got “lucky.” ;-)

  5. (Don’t want to get too off topic, but,,,) Kofi, you aware that the as of today, the White House wants people to report on any “fishy” online accounts of obamas heath care reform. They even have a email address for people to use to report on others.

    Same thing the nazi’s used to do.

  6. It’s not about being un-american or un-patriotic! It’s bout screwing real fans with a bunch vomit spewed from a hollywood/corporate think tank!

    That is what the old crank of a host failed to realize. As a fan, I’ll be sure to have a jar of vaseline handy when/if I RENT THE DVD. Think i’d rather watch sigma six or maybe the original joe movie from the 80′s….

    I’m already boycotting the figures..

  7. Will the real Ripcord please stand up?!

    Errr……Marlon, you can go ahead and have a seat.

  8. @ 790

    I just reported you for writing that.


  9. Wow what’s all the hate about Marlon wayans,. Dont answer if you have never seen Requime for a dream.

  10. I had a ton of the 80′s Joe and to me, it wasn’t about the cartoon or even the comics… it was about the toys! They were awesome, and then when they made the extra swivel joint below the elbow… well, they were even more posable. They were very good to PLAY with. Now the movie industry is exploiting our nostalgia to make money. They did it with Transformers… I gave that movie a chance, I waited half my life to see a live action version of that and it was crap. They never did it justice, but in the end the nostalgia is for the toys. Just the toys! And when I made the transformers fight G.I. Joe, it shook the world (well, at least my backyard).

  11. Kofi you can believe what you want, but basically your vanilla version of everything is the reason all the comic based movies up to Iron Man did mediocre or bombed at the theaters. Even with Iron Man showing the world how to make a successful movie franchise while staying true to the comics the other still don’t get it. They took a very good story and cast of characters, then changed everything there was about them that made them unique. Cookie cutter heroes are just that, boring and repetitive.

  12. Let’s not get carried away Aleric, Spider-Man broke the mold my friend. ;-)

  13. I would have seen the movie if it had red and blue lasers.

    Since it does not I will not go see it.

  14. While Spiderman was good the follow up movies were not as good in my opinion. Not enough action, too much crying and packing too many villians into the movie without enough back story to make them interesting. I collected all the issues of all four titles up till 1998 and so yes I am familiar with all the story arcs. They let the director decide what to put in the films and Sam Raimy tried to do too much too soon.

  15. Spider-Man, Dark Knight, X-Men 2, The Hulk (Nortons version) and Iron Man, are all on the same level of superhero perfection. You can even include Watchmen!!!

    Don’t make me add Ghost Rider Aleric !!!!

  16. as far as the Spider-Man movies go ,
    2 out of 3 isnt bad .
    and 3 was BAAAAAAAAAAD!

  17. What makes Spider-Man and all the other superhero films great is standout casting and writing.
    Everyone loved Toby as Parker just as everyone loved RD as Stark.
    When you have that perfect balance you can’t go wrong.

  18. @SIN187UM: Consistency is key. What other roles has Marlon Wayans had that are comparable?

  19. @OllieJ

    Pfft consistency. The same bellowing was done when Robin Williams started to take on “serious roles” as well as Ed O’neil. I’ll never compare some one’s comedic film to one of their drama films because its a different style of acting. So I take it you didn’t see Requiem for a Dream.

  20. Did someone just say “Heath Care?”

    Btw, heard a radio ad today with Kid Rock’s “American Badass.” I’m not the biggest Kid Rock fan (and hearing them using Metallica’s Sad But True is weird), but it fits.


  21. Right now there is a Russian Nuclear Akula class attack sub roughly 200 miles off the east coast. It may be the Oktober guard.

    The world went from thinking we are bullies to thinking we are pussies. We had one kind of Facsist government for 8 years and now we have an all new kind of Commie- Ultra Left wing Facsist government where old folks expressing their feelings at town hall meetings are labled as an organized mob?? by a large portion of the media that has become little more than a propaganda arm for the administration. At least Bush was cool with people protesting him. Now we have a White House Hotline so Liberal wackos can report people to the Berkley Gestapo. We have no real journalists anymore. Makes me sad. We have a cult of personality in this country, beguiled by charm and charisma and a public mezmorized by a great public speaker (should sound familiar if you have read your history)

    I’m with 790 on this one though I’m sure we would vastly disagree on politics. Give em hell!!

  22. @790 and @Lord Garth:

    Enough with the left-wing/right-wing bullsh*t name-calling. A majority of the people using terms likes socialist, communist, etc have no idea what the terms really mean.

    And those town hall meetings where “old folks are just expressing their feelings” are highly organized corporate-initiated tactics to prevent any real dialogue and ensure that corporate fatcats continue to get their money.

    Do some research for yourself. Don’t bother responding cause I’m not going to get sucked any further into this insipid discussion about the patriotism of a comic book character or the patriotism of any who sees or doesn’t see an issue with the movie adaptation of these characters.

    It’s an effin’ summer comic-book film for goodness sake. It doesn’t make you an American or any less of an American if you’re pissed or not pissed about the portrayal.

  23. Well that’s reasonable.

    G.I. is no longer a reference to U.S. Army military personnel.

    But they kept the letter GI… Is he Gastro-Intestinal Joe now? Staving off the forces of Diarrhea and encouraging kids to eat more fiber?

    Seriously, what does the “GI” stand for in “GI Joe” if he’s part of an international force run like the UN with no national ties?

    It would be like making an NY Yankees movie, but deciding it shouldn’t be set in New York; but instead in Chicago. you can make that movie; but calling it “The NY Yankees Story” seems stupid, doesn’t it?

    Since we’re assuming they aren’t stupid; GI Joe must refer to a different GI. I still think Gastro-Intestinal is the most likely answer.

    Eat you fiber kids, just like GI Joe. A clean colon is a happy colon.

  24. @Gekkobear: Global Integrated Joint Operating Entity

  25. “but it definitely made it onto a major news network (MSNBC)”

    Sorry Kofi but this statement negates any other would-be points in your article.

    I think my local 6 am newscast has a larger audience than MSNBC.

  26. It appears many new fans to GI JOE series think Destro is the leader of Cobra…Nowhere in the trailers Cobra Commander was seen…which makes everything so confusing. As a fan of GI Joe from the 1980′s, I was starting to think Destro was the leader of Cobra based on the new movies thrilers. They should had at least a couple seconds of Cobra Commander in the trailers.

  27. Ok, just re-watched the commercial, and I admit I’m clueless as to what everyone is complaining about. GI Joe is still an anti-terrorist force in the movie, it’s entirely staffed by Americans, it’s run by General Hawk, who’s clearly an American Army general. Everyone in the commercial who has an accent is one of the bad guys. They mention that GI Joe is attached to NATO, but so what? Firstly, NATO is the good guys, the kind of internationalism that we, as Americans, like, and there’s no mention of the UN (Which is the kind of internationalism that we don’t like). I mean, technically we could say that the USAF is “Attached to NATO” in a very broad sense, so what’s all the complaining about here?

  28. @OllieJ – “Enough with the left-wing/right-wing bullsh*t name-calling. A majority of the people using terms likes socialist, communist, etc have no idea what the terms really mean.

    And those town hall meetings where “old folks are just expressing their feelings” are highly organized corporate-initiated tactics to prevent any real dialogue and ensure that corporate fatcats continue to get their money.”

    Ummm…ok. So you want others to stop calling names and throwing around terms but in the next paragraph you do just that? it’s so easy to throw around accusations without having any proof to back them up. Do you know for a fact that the people showing up to the town hall meetings are being organized by corporations to protect your so-called “fatcats”? And let’s just entertain your argument for a moment. Is there anything illegal about it? have they broken any laws? Are they out pooring bottles of Ensure on people as the walk in or leave to voice their protest? How about this – are they camped outside of President Obama house in Chicago with signs saying they want a meeting with him for over a year? Where was the outrage when Cindy did that to Bush a couple of years ago?

    I happen to agree with Kofi on most of his points in this article (which is werid becasue we are from two different sides of the coin on most things). It’s just a movie and the people that are upset or so because they feel as if another piece of their childhood or nostalgia has been tampered with. I think Paramount and Sommer’s were merely making a business decision to make the movie attractive on an international scale.

    And let’s look at this shall we, they blow up the Effiel Tower. Not the statue of liberty or the golden gate bridge. Not Mount Rushmore or any other American landmark. Most Hollywood films go for the American landmarks because they are recognizable (and maybe deep down they really want to see it destroyed? i kid, i kid).