"New polls show the country strongly opposes the Afghanistan and Iraq wars - but military officials want to preserve the possibility of an escalation in Afghanistan and a permanent deployment in Iraq. So the Pentagon is ...seeking an opiate to placate the war-averse populace. What better anodyne than a marketing campaign implying wars are fun video games?"Related, Thom Engelhardt on the G.I. Joe phenomenon:
"While sanitizing ads play to the country's growing disgust with militarism, they could ultimately lead us to be more supportive of militarism. How? By convincing us that violence can be just another innocuous expression of adolescent technophilia.
If we end up thinking that, we will have once again forgotten what all wars, even the justifiable ones, always are: lamentable human tragedies."
Nobody's mentioned it, but the most impressive thing about the new movie, G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra, comes last -- the eight minutes or so of credits which make it clear that, to produce a twenty-first century shoot-em-up, you need to mobilize a veritable army of experts. There may be more "compositors" than actors and more movie units (Prague Unit, Prague Second Unit, Paris Unit) than units of Joes.
As the movie theater empties, those credits still scroll inexorably onward, like a beachhead in eternity, the very eternity in American cultural life that G.I. Joe already seems to inhabit. The credits do, of course, finally end -- and on a note of gratitude that, almost uniquely in the film, evokes an actual history. "The producers also wish to thank the following," it says, and the list that follows is headed by the Department of Defense, which has been "advising" Hollywood on how to make war movies -- with generous loans of equipment, troops, consultants, and weaponry in return for script "supervision" -- since the silent era.