Saturday, September 05, 2009

A Real American... Something

My son made me go see the live-action G.I. Joe movie last weekend. Now, the following article may contain a spoiler or two. But the damned movie's been out for a month - I'm thinking I'm safe from the wrath of the disgruntled fanbase. Everybody who really, really, really wanted to see the movie probably already has. But if you haven't, be warned.

(And if you've been waiting to see this movie and you aren't seven, how sad are you, anyway?)

Can't say it was a great movie: it was mostly a celebration of fight scenes and crap blowing up. But in the end, that's all GI Joe has ever been, so why strain yourself, right? Well, a couple of random thoughts on the movie:
1. Christopher Eccleston (the 9th Doctor) could have phoned in his part - unless he's given significant scenery to chew, he tends to come off bland and restrained. (In fact, since they gave him the full-face metal mask of Destro at the end, he could now literally phone his part in for the inevitable sequel.)

2, Thank the 36 aspects of Shiva that the producers realized in time that they needed to change Cobra Commander's costume, or they would have risked throwing hundreds of millions of dollars into a movie where the head bad guy looks like a Klansman with a leather fetish.

3. I did appreciate the exchange between a drugged out Marlon Wayans saying "Hey, look, he's got realistic hair!" and reaching out to muss it, only to have his wrist grabbed and spit out "...and a Kung-Fu Grip!" But I'm a big fan of the cheesy joke.

4. Brendan Frasier and Arnold Vosloo both make appearances in here, apparently because they've placed the GI Joe base of operations in Egypt. (Or maybe because Stephen Sommers liked working with them. It's hard to tell.)
It's a movie full of pretty people - there's eye candy for you no matter what your gender choice. Although there were limited ethnic choices - there's white men, black men, oriental men... and white women. At least the two leading white women they chose, Rachel Nichols and Sienna Miller, are eyeball-meltingly hot, if that's what you're into. So at least I had something to stare at for the extended periods where my brain was decomposing under the weight of the product placement.

Because, really, that's what the movie is all about. The cartoon (and probably, to a lesser extent, the comic book) was all about selling toys, but this movie has taken that open commercialism, and raised it to a whole new level of avarice.

There are, of course, all the usual, expected tie-ins: the action figures (of course, always the action figures), the movie posters, the soundtrack, the t-shirts, the coffee mugs, the video game (apparently not a winner), and, of course, the comic book.

But what stunned me was the amount of product placement this movie piled into its 118 minutes. From the billboards in the background to the products in the foreground, I'm not sure that the company paid for a single prop outside of guns and costumes. When Rex breaks into the underground bunker and finds the computer screens, the program in question is specifically and prominently shown to be a Norton product (leading to one of the most tenuous movie tie-ins ever).

I think what stunned me the most was the Double Bubble advertisements pretending to be part of the movie. Right before the Norton incident, Duke offers Rex a piece of Double Bubble (which he identifies by name), and explains how it always calms him down before he goes into battle; and later, their computer guy insists on taking the last piece of the (specifically-named) Double Bubble, and, in fact, is shown happily blowing a bubble with it.

Now, this movie is based on the 3.75" action figure/cartoon synergy of the Eighties. When I was a kid, though, I owned G.I. Joes. Not the action figures that my sons played with years later, but the original, 12" toys.

In 1963, Stan Weston had merchandising rights to a TV show called The Lieutenant. (This happened to be the first series created and produced by Gene Roddenberry of Star Trek fame. Majel Barrett probably met then-married Roddenberry on the set of The Lieutenant; a few years later, his marriage failing, he hired Majel for the first pilot of Star Trek, and the rest is... well, it's a long-running job for Majel, anyway...)

Weston went to the toy company Habro, makers of Mr Potato Head; playing on the success of the Barbie line of fashion dolls, which had been launched by Mattel four years earlier, he convinced them to produce a line of military-themed dolls.

(On a side note, the Hassenfeld Brothers toy company was founded in the Twenties by brothers Henry and Halal Hassenfeld; they didn't technically shorten their name to Hasbro until 1968, but most of the histories you read tell you that the first G.I. Joe's were made by "Hasbro" - go figure.)

(On another, only-vaguely-related side note, when Weston approached the nascent Hasbro-to-be, it had only been three years since they had marketed Mr Potato Head with a hard plastic body: prior to that, it was just plastic parts on push pins, and you stuck them in actual potatoes.)

Now, the original GI Joe had a prominent facial scar, which they did, in fact, give in the movie to Duke (Channing Tatum - no relation to Tatum O'Neal, if you're curious, although he was in a movie in 2006 with Steven Randazzo, who was in Basquiat ten years ealier with Tatum O'Neal - thank you, Kevin Bacon). The official story on the scar is that it was a trademarkable addition to the face; my personal theory is that it was added because the toy company realized that Joe looked a lot like a square-jawed Ken without it, and that just wouldn't do. Joe underwent only minor cosmetic changes for years, and with limited exceptions, they all had the scar.

Two years after their American release, Palitoy became the licensed distributor of GI Joe in the UK and Australia, using the same designs as their American counterpart. The British version was named Action Man, and the head of product development for Palitoy, William A.G. (Bill) Pugh, is credited with the creation of the "lifelike" flocked hair, Kung-Fu Grip, and the wierdly-moving "Eagle Eyes" changes to the design. So it might have been polite if some mention of Action Man had made it into the movies.

The retooled "GI Joe" apparently now stands for Global Integrated Joint Operating Entity (it probably took them hours to come up with that one); it originally meant "Government Issue" (the attitude being that, if you're in the military, the government owned you as much as it owned everything it issued to you). Originally planning to call the prototypes by original names like "Rocky the Marine", "Skip the Sailor", and "Ace the Pilot," they instead decided to go with the more generic "GI Joe" based on a 1945 film, The Story of G.I. Joe.

(That movie, loosely based on the experiences of war correspondent Ernie Pyle, starred Robert Mitchum and Burgess Meredith, a couple of minor actors, and an actual group of war correspondents, and a bunch of American GI's about to be transferred from the European theater to the Pacific. Ernie Pyle also acted as technical advisor for the film, which stole several punchlines from Bill Mauldin's cartoons. Just after filming was finished, the GI's were transferred to Okinawa, where many of them were killed, along with Ernie Pyle himself, having never seen their movie.)

And now you know. And knowing is half the battle.

33 comments:

Anonymous said...

And why should we care about this? nobody gives a damn about Gi Joes. You mean you looked at the news, and this was the most important thing you could find to talk about? youre just sad, Cynic.

Nameless Cynic said...

why should we care about this?

Absolutely no reason you should. So obviously, I'm not writing this for you.

nobody gives a damn about Gi Joes

Well, the box office numbers are dropping, but they still made $6.7 million this weekend. So obviously somebody disagrees with you.

you looked at the news, and this was the most important thing you could find to talk about?

You mean that your entire world revolves around the current most important headline of the moment? You live your life around Drudge and Fox "News" Channel, with no other outside interests?

That's a fairly small and pitiful universe you live in, my friend.

youre just sad, Cynic

Pretty cheerful, actually. I might have ended up with an accidental turtle over the weekend. (More on that later, probably.)

Eman said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

Yes, I think the "Aimless" moniker fits you well. This is even further punctuated by you latest...ummm...column?

Your son "makes you go see" movies?

Pat Riot

Diogenes said...

e-boy, go slither back into your hole, willya?

What do you do for your son, beat him?

Anonymous said...

"What do you do for your son, beat him?"

No, I'm not Joe Jackson. And, unlike your father, I didn't force him to wear a ballerina outfit (or did your dad actually "force" you to do that?) If I'd really wanted to do something terrible, I'd force him to read your replies.

Pat Riot

Diogenes said...

There's that rampant homophobia again, e-boy. How sad.

Anonymous said...

What rampant homophobia? Considering you started this altercation with charges of possible child abuse (considerably more dangerous than what you preceive as homophobia), it was merely stooping to your level. When you're ready (and capable) to raise the level of debate, let us know.


Pat Riot

Nameless Cynic said...

What have you said that's worth debating, Patty?

Yes, "made me go see." I had no real urge, but he wanted to, and wanted me along. So I went to see it with him.

I get along with my son. This is a crime in your world?

Steven K said...

In response to Anon:

"What rampant homophobia?"

I do believe it's THIS homophobia:

"unlike your father, I didn't force him to wear a ballerina outfit "

You certainly have a hyperactive imagination on what you think NC's dad did to him. I guess he must have called you up and told him, right? Right? Oh, that's right, he didn't, of course. Anyhoo, you've apparently convinced yourself turns them into little girly men. THAT homophobia.

If you insist on continuing to sling that mud, just remember: Each and every handful you throw makes it that much clearer to anyone with half a brain that you're waaaaaaaay out of your league here, bub.

Steven

Steven K said...

Oh, and NC, hope you had a good week. There's a couple of other of your threads you might want to add your comments to lately, namely "Random Musings" and "Healthcare -- The Debate Continues." The trolls have been running rampant on those threads and could use a little slapping down. Just thought you should know. Peace out, dude.

Steven

Anonymous said...

"What have you said that's worth debating, Patty?"

Obviously, a great deal, Billy. You seem to have a smarmy, factless retort to everything I type. And it's not only you, but also the ugly stepsisters to your evil stepmother. Or perhaps a better analogy would be the PSDs to your Cloverfield monster.

Not sure where I said getting along with someone was a "crime in my world". You certainly tend to exaggerate...but, it's your blog.

Now to respond to the ugly step sister (or PSD, depending upon your taste in films). So how is implying (in jest, of course) that someone wore a tutu and toe shoes "homophobic"? And if you will put down the crack pipe and scroll back up, you'll find I was challenging Diogenes (the other ugly step sister) not Aimless. So before you blow a gasket (or blow...well..someone, er, something else...chill, dude.)

And what the hell is the meaning of this: "Anyhoo, you've apparently convinced yourself turns them into little girly men."

Ugh...you talk like caveman...you like Geico? Ugh..dude.

You obviously missed the first part of the spat, in which Diogenes brought up child abuse. Not funny and MUCH more critical than your perceived homophobia.

Now you can get back to your asskissing.

Pat Riot

Anonymous said...

Oh, almost forgot...peace out, dude.

Steven K said...

""What have you said that's worth debating, Patty?"

Obviously, a great deal, Billy"

You wish, bub, you wish.

"You seem to have a smarmy, factless retort to everything I type."

Project much?

"And it's not only you, but also the ugly stepsisters to your evil stepmother"

Got quite the hyperactive imagination there, don'tcha, bub?

"So how is implying (in jest, of course) that someone wore a tutu and toe shoes "homophobic"? "

Well, I saw you trying to make fun of NC by insinuating he engages in what you prefer to think of as feminine behavior. Most guys who behave as you did do so as a lame attempt at insinuating the target of their attacks is gay. And they engage in attacks like these because they feel homosexuality (or even something they can link to it, no matter how remotely) is something to be mocked -- hence, you in turn are forced to deal with US mocking YOU for your possible homophobia. QED.

"And what the hell is the meaning of this: "Anyhoo, you've apparently convinced yourself turns them into little girly men.""

See my last paragraph, bub.

"you talk like caveman"

Well, given that your ideology is mired in the Stone Age, I figured it would be appropriate.

"you like Geico?"

Nope, I prefer State Farm.

"You obviously missed the first part of the spat,"

Nope, not in the slightest.

"in which Diogenes brought up child abuse. Not funny andMUCH more critical than your perceived homophobia."

Oh, I dunno, homophobia can be have some pretty ugly consequences too. Matthew Shepard, anyone?

"Now you can get back to your asskissing"

Kinda like you do for Melkor, Glenn Beck, and the Faux News guys, huh?

"Oh, almost forgot...peace out, dude."

Borrowing others' lines, eh? Well I guess imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.

Nameless Cynic said...

Smarmy? Moi?

But "factless"? That's odd, since I've been accused of putting too many links in my responses. It's weird - it's like you can't win with these goons. Either you have too much information, or you're fact-free. It's like they don't want to debate on the merits of their argument, and just want to scream insults and drown out the opposition.

The teabagger mentality. It's a sad, sad thing.

And, because that doesn't always work, I notice that they also tend to be hypersensitive to any perceived insult. Because, again, it's easier to attack the person than the subject. Especially when neither facts nor common decency support their arguments.

Anonymous said...

Yes...smarmy. An adjective meaning oily or slippery. Yes, that describes tu to a T.

Who accuses you of putting too many links in your responses? I've seen people accuse you once in a great while of using too many leftoid links, but that's a matter of opinion. Besides, you don't seem to get out much and want to remain stuck in your biased world. Sad.

Regarding being "hypersensitive to any perceived insult", would that be like when I questioned your son dragging you to a movie? Or questioning (in jest) someone's father dressing him in unusual clothing (which was in a response to an allegation of child abuse)? By the way, Special K: that insult was not directed at Aimless (again I have to point this out), but rather at Diogenes. Please don't let your zeal to defend Aimless (or man-crush, or whatever it is) lead you the wrong way, bub.

And please don't throw names around (Matthew Sheppard). It really isn't beneficial to the points you are painfully trying to make by comparing your perceived homophobia to child abuse...bub.

Notice how I have this little puppet under my control? I can get Special K to reply to anything. He tells me what insurance he prefers, he cuts and pastes nearly everything I type, etc. Maybe someday soon I will cut his strings and watch him fall to the floor. In the meantime, it's fun watching him dance.

Pat Riot

Nameless Cynic said...

OK, so this particular "Pat Riot" is the aggressive one. I think I'm starting to get a handle on it.

There's the one that slings mud but can't spell. There's this one, who at least has access to spellcheck and is deeply fond of the ad hominem, but doesn't seem to have any arguments of substance. There's one that likes posting links, but doesn't read them to realize that they don't support his point. I thought that there were at least two or three others in that one thread, but one of them could be posting multiple times.

It's odd. I wonder if they know each other?

Diogenes said...

Didn't the e-boy have two witless buddies on that kook's rightwingnut blog?

I didn't mean for you to infer that I was accusing you of child abuse, PattyCake. I was merely wondering why NC taking his kid to a movie was somehow an act of weakness on his part. Sounds to me that it's part of being a decent father, so I was trying to inquire, in an oblique way, what YOUR definition of "being a good father" is.

Anonymous said...

http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20090913/ap_on_bi_ge/us_life_after_clunkers

Kesel, like many dealers, still hasn't been paid for most of his clunker sales.

"'Most dealers are in a cash-flow crunch because of the federal government not paying up on this,' he said.

The government reported Friday that it has approved $1.22 billion in reimbursements, about 40 percent of what is due."

What were you saying about the program being a success?

Oh, and at last count, there were actually several million of us ;)

Pat Riot

isabinda said...

Wow, GI Joe brings out the worst in some guys. I never knew. I always thought that GI Joe would be an icon of unassailable virtue to the insane right, but apparently not. Live and learn. Part of their whole "supporting the troops" mentality?

Anonymous said...

Ah yes, the ad hominem. Aimless, weren't you guilty of this not long ago when you commented on someone's profile pic looking like his buttplug wasn't fitting right? Hmmmm...how do you know about the proper fitting of a buttplug? And, if someone does use this sort of device, why would it be of interest to you? You seem caught up with appearances. Care to post your pic so we can all see what you look like? (I'd ask the two ugly step sisters to post pics, but they obviously have their noses lodged so far up your crack, we'd only get shots from the shoulders down.

And yes, you have found all of us out. There are 943 "Pat Riots" (although we sometimes use different monikers). We are being paid by G. W. Bush and Dick Cheney to monitor your site. We also have surveillance set up around your home. We see you as a threat to our goal of world domination, and therefore, you must be monitored.

By the way, those were some ugly shoes you wore last week.

Pat Riot

Anonymous said...

And you librals suck

Pat Riot

Steven K said...

In response to the latest Patsy:

"Ah yes, the ad hominem. Aimless, weren't you guilty of this yap yap yap...."

Yeah, sure, I guess he was, but unlike you, at least NC leavens his ad hominems with liberal doses of facts.

"I'd ask the two ugly step sisters yap yap yap yap...."

Man, there you go again with that hyperactive imagination of yours. Probably came from the same place you dredge up your birther and deather conspiracy theories, I guess.

"those were some ugly shoes you wore yap yap...."

Wow, so now you're a clairvoyant too? Heck, I'll bet NC wore those shoes just to make your own family forget about all those times you kept flashing that ugly underwear of yours in public, no?

Ahhh, childish non sequitur insults -- a game the whole family can play!

"And you librals suck"

And yer speling suks wers, Patsy!

Steven

Nameless Cynic said...

weren't you guilty of this not long ago when you commented on someone's profile pic looking like his buttplug wasn't fitting right?

Have you looked at Toejammies' picture? I mean, really...

Hmmmm...how do you know about the proper fitting of a buttplug?

Well, to be honest, I don't. However, since you asked, and in the interest of science, there's this (NSFW - oh so very NSFW) - I'm sure that if you hunt around that site for a while, you'll find something about properly fitting yours.

And are there "several million" or just 943 of you? I'm just curious. You guys need to work together better.

And, for that matter, if there are, in fact, "several million" of you, it's a shame none of you could make it to the Million Moron March today.

Nameless Cynic said...

And how careless of me, to ignore the first Pat buried 6 comments up. Now, what was it I said earlier?

There's the one that slings mud but can't spell. There's this one, who at least has access to spellcheck and is deeply fond of the ad hominem, but doesn't seem to have any arguments of substance. There's one that likes posting links, but doesn't read them to realize that they don't support his point.

OK, so admittedly you read it enough to cherrypick a quote. But did you even look at what came immediately before?

Scott Kesel, owner of a Chrysler-Dodge-Jeep dealership in Canandaigua, N.Y., near Rochester, thinks the September sales drop is seasonal as vacations end, students return to school and people focus on new routines.

"That is always a difficult retail period for us. If you see numbers that suggest the market is down in September, it may be absolutely normal," he said, adding that he isn't worried about the rest of the year.


Or immediately after it, for that matter?

Even though customers are few now, dealers still are happy that Cash for Clunkers helped them in a difficult year with sales running at an annual rate of around 10 million...

The clunker sales, though, will help the Upper Peninsula dealership network to keep going if times get even worse.

"Because the CFC program was there, we were able to squirrel away a nut for winter," Mahan said.

Anonymous said...

"Have you looked at Toejammies' picture? I mean, really..."

No, I haven't. I don't really judge people based on looks...apparently you do. And that's ok, it works for those who are of a more...simplistic nature. And hopefully most in your political party don't pass judgement based on looks either, otherwise, how would you explain Nancy "If my face gets pulled up anymore, I'll have a goatee" Pelosi, or Henry "Phantom of the Opera" Waxman.

It's just kind of disturbing that you'd sit around and look at pictures of men online and think about anal opportunities (I mean, after all, you've been married for something like 15 years longer than the average Republican senator?? Or something like that??)

Regarding the "millions" of us refered to in one post and the "943"" in the other, you have to remember, since there are so many of us, it's hard to keep up. You, for instance aren't even sure how many there actually are, just that there are more than one.

And you accuse someone of "cherrypicking" and then go on to counter with a single instance of a single dealer. Does your hipocracy have no limits?

Pat Riot

Anonymous said...

Special K, that was clever of you posting the spelling error. I never use the work "suck" however. Next time pick a better word to use. And I never type just one sentence.

Now, go back to your man-crush on Aimless and please stop thinking about my ugly underwear. Weirdo. LOL

Pat Riot

Anonymous said...

"Wow, so now you're a clairvoyant too? Heck, I'll bet NC wore those shoes just to make your own family forget about all those times you kept flashing that ugly underwear of yours in public, no?"

Special K is a prime example of why pregnant women shouldn't drink Drano.

- Edward R. Sorrow

Anonymous said...

"There's the one that slings mud but can't spell."

The correct grammar would be "There's the one who (not that) slings mud but can't spell."

Will you ever post a reply that doesn't require editing?

Pat Riot

Nameless Cynic said...

It's back to "reading comprehension" again.

OK, so admittedly you read it enough to cherrypick a quote. But did you even look at what came immediately before? ... (cut the quote from the story, which you refer to as "a single instance of a single dealer" - I'm just using your (his?) sources, dude.) ...Or immediately after it, for that matter?

Go on, reread it. I know that's hard for you, but try.

Anonymous said...

Dude, get over it. You've lost. Cash For Clunkers was not a success. Googling "cash for clunkers success" (I know you hate googling,...why, it's almost as bad as actually looking up things in the library), I came across a couple of interesting articles from those right-wingnut bastions, The Huffington Post and MSNBC:

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2009/08/21/cash-for-clunkers-success_n_264831.html

http://www.businessweek.com/autos/autobeat/archives/2009/08/cash_for_clunke_12.html

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/32497875/ns/business-autos/

Pat Riot

Anonymous said...

I suppose I could've attended the "Million Moron March", as you put it, but those kinds of assemblies frighten me...they probably shouldn't, as most conservative groups tend to be peaceful in their gatherings. The leftists, on the other hand...well...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wnykLMpbJgI

Pat Riot

Nameless Cynic said...

Come on, Pat. Here you go, doing it again. Please. Read these things before you try to use them as "proof."

Huffpo (the first paragraph):
It's revived business at car dealerships, taken gas-guzzlers off the road and given a badly needed boost to struggling auto factories. By many measures, the government's Cash for Clunkers program has been a success.

Yet as it winds down, there is another lasting image: the hasty planning and troubled execution that nearly derailed the program early on and, lately, has led some frustrated dealers to drop out amid long waits for the government money.

The responsibility for the $3 billion stimulus program's flaws is widely spread.


And it goes on, pointing out some errors in a program it's already described as a success.

So, not a complete success, in that it was used more widely than anticipated, which bogged things down a bit. But still, I'd point out, "It's revived business at car dealerships, taken gas-guzzlers off the road and given a badly needed boost to struggling auto factories."

Add to that the secondary effects - getting people spending money in an economy that needs them to do exactly that, helped out the various associated businesses (after-market accessories, all that kind of thing) and I'd say it did just what it was supposed to do.

But let's look at your other links.

Business Week:
Well, right off the bat, we see the title. Cash for Clunkers success pales next to its hype

Hmmm. Seems like this might have an angle. So, we read through it, and we find that, indeed, it's saying that it could have been more successful - "hardly the windfall that Germany achieved from a similar program," but still...

And, right there at the end of the article:
The bottom line: The program did its job, but with just $3 billion in funding its mission was always going to be limited.

But let's just move on to that third article, from MSNBC. And funny thing, it looks familiar, doesn't it?

In fact, it's the same article as that first one, from HuffPo. Which is to be expected, really. HuffPo is more of a "news aggregator" than an actual outlet.

So, yeah. I've already said that the system had some flaws, so "complete success" might be overstating. But I'm more than happy to call it a success. Just like those articles did.

And I'll cheerfully continue to point out your issues with reading comprehension.

By the way, "most conservative groups tend to be peaceful in their gatherings." Really?