Research Notes: GI Joe

Sorting through some old papers in my version of spring cleaning, I found some notes I wrote while watching two episodes of the 80s version of GI Joe while I was working on Saturday Morning Fever. It was one of the shows of the 1980s that I didn’t have a personal memory of, so I felt kind of obligated to watch it. The episodes in question were “Cobra Stops the World” and “The Revenge of Cobra”.

So here they are as I wrote them circa 1997 or so: intellectual work in progress! Keep in mind that I hadn’t ever seen the cartoon, a rare lacunae in my kidvid knowledge. Keep in mind this was before Wikipedia or any pop-culture wiki: researching this stuff used to be hard, you young whippersnappers.


Women in the military.

Everybody has a gadget, single-note personality formula.

Advanced technology with no general consequences, very comic-book.

Cobra guys bail out, escape exploding buildings–Standard & Practices obviously very hard at work to make sure that there is no impression that bad guys are getting killed (that line wouldn’t be crossed for quite a while afterwards). No wonder Cobra is always back next week, strong as ever, they never lose a single guy.

“Yo Joe”. This is not an inspiring battle cry.

Sparks, guy with big backpack.

“Eat hot knuckle, snakeface!”

Whooops on the no death thing–Joe does seem to trap a bunch of Yanomano miners in a diamond mine with a big explosion. Off-screen civilian collateral damage ok?

Who is red-haired woman? “Scarlet”.

This is like “Where in the World is Cobra Commander?” Educational!

We are at Cobra’s secret base in Patagonia. It has a giant Cobra-shaped tower on it. “Secret”.

Cobra Commander is graduate of Lex Luthor school for last minute escapes while heroes stand around congratulating themselves. Cartoon villains have low self-esteem, they expect to lose, because they spend so much time preparing to escape.

“Revenge of Cobra”

Gung Ho. Refugee from Village People? I am sorry, but this is one of the gayest things I’ve seen.

New one-note people: woman with laser javelin, guy with a dog.

“Snake is sneak spelled sideways”.

Cobra’s battlecry: “Cobra!” Catchy.

Duke abandons helicopter to fight 25 guys hand-to-hand. Tactical brilliance.

Roadblock: kind of a low-rent Muhammad Ali, but a step up from Black Vulcan, etc. as far as cartoon multiculturalism goes.

Zartan: “While GI Joe and Cobra battle for the land, I rule the swamp!”. Wow, what an accomplishment.

More not-secret secret hideouts.

Destro: why don’t you stick with your inventions, man. So it failed once, try again. Why keep making new world-ruling thingies?

What is Cobra’s revenue base?

Why not just nuke Cobra’s headquarters if they’re controlling the weather from it? That would solve the problem real quick.

Shipwreck: looks like the old GI Joe doll, the big manly bearded guy. “Don’t worry, I’m not with Cobra. I’m with myself and anybody who can pay my price”. Mercenary or gigolo?

Someday someone in some pop culture should get trapped under a closing door and have their legs crushed. Just saying.

Lots of scene recycling, standard 80s animation, almost porn-like with its repetition. Yes, the people who are complaining about toy tie-ins may have a little bit of a point on this one. Some character designs appealing, though.

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6 Responses to Research Notes: GI Joe

  1. Bill McNeill says:

    [Spoiler Alert] Around the second season of Lost someone actually does get their legs caught beneath a closing metal door, so that’s progress of a sort.

  2. Someday someone in some pop culture should get trapped under a closing door and have their legs crushed. Just saying.

    Truer words were never spoken.

    That said, it’ll never happen unless they start going back to the Star Trek convention of having a bunch of disposable security people around on a regular basis.

  3. Timothy Burke says:

    Bill: Prophecy! I should take to more extensive forecasting.

  4. Katie Davenport says:

    I’m wondering if your notes on serious academic articles are this sarcastic.

    I kind of hope so.

  5. Timothy Burke says:

    Um. Sometimes? Does that make me a bad scholar?

    I’m occasionally embarassed at how snarky my old marginal notes in books are.

  6. Doug says:

    Marginal notes: protoblogging.

    The bit about nuking the site made me think of Aliens.

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