Joe: Cool?


The GI Joe movie opened last weekend.

I didn't care. What
is on my list? Funny People, Julie and Julia, (500) Days of Summer, In the Loop, District 9, and The Hurt Locker. But GI Joe... Meh.

GI Joe logos through the years are trademarks of Hasbro.

Now the salient point here isn't that the trailers for
GI Joe: The Rise of Cobra, like those for Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen, might as well have advertised CGI Joe: Attack of the Effects-Driven Spectacle, although that's also true. The curious part, for me, was how utterly devoid of nostalgia I've felt about these films since they were greenlit, because — while not always in terms of the aching wistfulness associated with nostalgia (a word that comes from the Greek roots nostos "returning home" and algos "pain") — I'm a pretty easy guy to send back to yesterday. A sight, a sound, or a smell can bring such vivid, immediate memories that I feel one short nudge away from actually stepping back into my past like Billy Pilgrim in Kurt Vonnegut's Slaughterhouse-Five or Christopher Reeve's character in the film Somewhere in Time.

Maybe it's that I was just a
sliver too old to fit into the Transformers-era demographic. I was a child in the 1970s; I grew up in the 1980s, and it's a crucial distinction. The Hasbro action-figure lines, animated TV series, and Marvel comic books upon which the current movies are based were huge successes, but I never sampled any of them. When I think of GI Joe, I think not of of the small, super-accessorized Real American Hero figures on the scale of Kenner's Star Wars line but of (A) the original 12" figures that died out just as I discovered them, their last gasp being the sci-fi Adventure Team incarnation that included Bulletman the Human Bullet, and (B) the 8" figures with not only "kung-fu grip" but "1-2 punch" that stood at about the same height as the popular Mego superhero dolls (no, I never had a problem calling them dolls).

Likewise, I don't have the same attachment to cultural icons that
precede my childhood, even by a little. Unlike the newer Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (cartoon and action figures, that is; I appreciated the older-skewing, independently published comic books), I've always thought that the Captain Action doll was awesome, but since I didn't have a hand-me-down it never made the visceral imprint of my beloved Megos, or the 12" Steve Austin and his arch-nemesis Maskatron, or GI Joe with kung-fu grip and his arch-nemesis, uh, evil green GI Joe — actually named Darkon, I discover as some far too time-intensive Googling reveals that this version of the franchise was dubbed Super Joe and gives me serious flashbacks.

I'd meant to write more broadly about nostalgia, but time is up for now. So what Joe, if any, was
your GI Joe? Did you see the movie? And what do you want to see this weekend?

2 comments:

Mathieu said...

I never had action figures when I was a kid. Is that odd?

I am most definitely not planing on seeing the new G.I Joe film that's currently in theaters because there a much more interesting choice that fits my bill: District 9

I'm heading to the midnight screening later on and will feature it in a new "Of The Week". I'm confident it will be deserving of such distinction.

Arben said...

Ha! I finally have an icon! Thanks, Blam!