Joe / No Joe
The GI Joe movie opened last weekend.
I didn’t care. On my list to see are District 9, In the Loop, 500 Days of Summer, Funny People, and The Hurt Locker. But GI Joe? Meh.
Now the salient point here isn’t (merely) that 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 Generic Effects-Driven Spectacle. What’s curious for me was how utterly devoid of nostalgia I’ve felt about these films since they were announced, because I’m a pretty easy guy to send back to yesterday — a sight, a sound, or a smell can bring such vivid 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, Richard Collier, in Somewhere in Time.
Maybe it’s that I’m just a sliver too old to fit into the original Transformers demographic. I was a child in the 1970s; I grew up in the 1980s, and it’s a crucial distinction. The Hasbro toy lines, animated TV series, and Marvel comic books upon which the current movies are based were huge successes, yet I didn’t go for any of them. When I think of GI Joe, I think not of of the small, highly accessorized figures on the scale of Kenner’s Star Wars line — “A Real American Hero” — but of (α) the initial 12" figures that died out right as I discovered them, whose last gasp was the sci-fi Adventure Team incarnation that included Bulletman the Human Bullet, and (β) the
8" figures with not only “kung-fu grip” but “one-two punch” that stood at about the same height as the popular Mego superhero dolls (which, by the way, I had zero problem calling dolls).
Likewise, I don’t have the same attachment to cultural icons that precede my
childhood, even by a little. While I’ve always thought the concept was cool as heck, for instance, since I never got my hands on a Captain Action or any of its identity-change sets it didn’t make 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 version of GI Joe — actually named Darkon, I’ve just discovered, as the Googling that led to the links above revealed this iteration of the franchise to have been dubbed the Super Joe Adventure Team and, oh, does it give me 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?
Related: Soda-Pop Culture • The Case of the
Chemicals Indicated • Clash of the Toy Lines