Thursday, December 02, 2004


Go Joe!

Jonah Goldberg saw Glenn Reynold's link to this nifty Citroen-as-Transformer commercial, and waxed philosophic about his love for the old Transformers cartoon.

A reader of Jonah's emailed him with an astute frustration over both the Transformers and G.I. Joe cartoons: the "No Kill" rule.

If you recall either cartoon, you'd recognize that, no matter what happened, no one would ever die.

This was particularly egregious in G.I. Joe, where'd you watch a battle with hundreds of Joes versus Cobra, and no one would ever get shot. Or, likewise, any time there was an aerial dogfight, the losers would parachute out every time.

Mind you, this wasn't a general guideline: this was an iron-clad rule. If a two-person plane was shot down, there'd always be two parachutes, no matter what. End of story.

I still hate the G.I. Joe cartoon for this. Hate it, hate it, hate it. I could live with a stupid cartoon depending on moronic plotlines in order to sell more toys to idiot children like me. But I simply couldn't stand the "No Kill" rule.

Partly because, once you know it's there, you always notice it. But more importantly, because even as a small kid I knew that something was wrong.

Now, I'm no anti-violence crusader. I like my cartoons like Itchy & Scratchy. I enjoyed comic violence as much as the next young boy.

Still, when I watched G.I. Joe I wondered how they could fight a war where no one ever died? How does ever win such a war? It was like watching some sort of Hasbro Valhalla in endless 30-minute loops.

And, it was obviously unrealistic. Yeah, I know-- *of course* it was unrealistic, it's a cartoon. But bullets are still bullets, and bombs are still bombs. They should kinda hurt, ya know?

Is it heroism if there's no risk of suffering? Is it courage if there's no threat of injury or death? No. Thus, the cartoon was simply boring and repetitive.

Of course, I was always a bit more of an anime fan growing up. Battle of the Planets, Star Blazers, and Voltron (Hey! Toys!).

And of course, the holy grail of all cool early Americanized anime, Robotech.

Why do I say that about Robotech? Easy. Unlike G.I. Joe, people died. People got killed. Hell, in one episode, about 5 billion people died.

Robotech was written in a way that never talked down to a ten-year old kid. People died, yes; but their deaths had meaning, and there were consequences. It was significantly more mature than any cartoon of its day. Hence, it was a lot more interesting than another toy-marketing kabuki-toon.

Alas, regardless of whether I hated it or not, I still watched all the damn cartoons, every day I could. So I still get the nostalgia going every now and again.

Now. . . where did I put those action figures?

UPDATE: Ooh, I can't pass up the opportunity to recycle my post on the funniest G.I. Joe videos ever.

Seriously, if you don't spot your pants at this, you're dead inside.

To be honest, I am pretty sure I just watched for the hot military chicks. And Snake Eyes, because he was hardcore.
That was the problem. The cartoon didn't bother doing anything with Snake-Eyes. He was by far the most popular character (because, let's face it, Ninjas are *sweet*), but he only got play in the comic book, not on the cartoon.

Also, the cartoon relied waaay too much on Lady Jaye, when Scarlet was hotter.

Of course, the Baroness was the hottest of them all.

Good lord. I can't believe I'm having this conversation.
OK, as much as it pains me to say that Dave is right, I will give him 90% credit for his problems with GI Joe. To be fair, though, the problem was not with the GI Joe franchise, but with the television production companies. The GI Joe comic books read like Robotech, people die and their deaths have serious consequences. So, hate the production company, GI JOE itself rules!

Now, to show that Jonah and Dave don't know everything (or at least a great a percentage of everything as moi...) The GI Joe cartoon did deal with death once. In a two part episode severel Joes go to a parallel universe where Cobra has one and almost all of the Joes were killed. The even show Clutch and Bazooka finding their own skeletons still in thier uniforms out in a desert wasteland. The message was, if Joe ever loses to Cobra, we will all DIE.

Ok so for 99% of the episodes they screw it up, but for the 1% where the Joes face their own skeletons, the hit the horror of war and mortality right on the head.

Thank you, Angus, for proving my point: the G.I. Joe *cartoon* sucked.

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