Thursday, August 27, 2009

Not Getting It about G.I. Joe

I find the last few paragraphs of this piece by Alyssa Rosenberg to be hilarious. Apparently she is criticizing the recent G.I. Joe movie for not portraying war realisitically enough; for ignoring collateral damage, for being too derivative, for making the military organization too independent of government oversight, and for focusing too much on the cool hardware.

Folks, it's a movie based on a cartoon and toy line from the 1980s aimed at boys of single-digit age (yes, I know that the dolls are older than that, but the G.I. Joe characters that we know today basically were not created until the 80s).

I'm not defending the movie. It may be horrible, as the first live-action Transformers was (I'm not looking at the second until it comes out on DVD, and maybe not even then). Buyt Transformers was bad on its own terms; the robots were unrecognizable, too much of the plot revolved around the humans, the human were played too much for comic relief, etc. You don't go to watch Transformers and then claim that it was a bad movie because it had unrealistic giant robots.

And that's the problem. Ms. Rosenberg is looking for a nuanced portrayal of war from a movie that is supposed to be about colorful soldiers with amusing gimmicks fighting over-the-top villain stereotypes. Obviously, the movie will be more sophisticated than the cartoon (although the cartoon was, for what it was, fairly sophisticated (just Google "There's no place like Spingfield"), but first and foremost the movie has to be about the things that make G.I. Joe cool, two of which are the reduced level of moral complexity and the cartoony violence.

That is all.

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