An Exegetical Analysis of GI Joe

Saturday was Man Day at our house. That means that my sons and I didn’t wear shirts, wrestled, ate hot dogs and listened to Credence Clearwater Revival. For about six hours, our lovely home looked more like a day care that was being run by the cast of Swamp People. As part of our Man Day festivities, we watched a cartoon called GI Joe: Renegades. I grew up watching GI Joe cartoons so I was hyped when my sons wanted to watch this one. I didn’t know anything about this new version but it couldn’t be that different from the one I knew and loved as a child.

What follows is my assessment of GI Joe: Renegades. Expect to be moved as you read this. As a result of this analysis, it is likely that the whole debt ceiling issue will be worked out, your kids wont need braces and you’ll enjoy a fuller, greener lawn. So sit back and enjoy the genius that is GI Joe: Renegades.

The title of this episode is Revelations Part 1. The very first scene is a woman with black hair and black glasses getting off an airplane. She is a bad guy. We know this because the bad guys in GI Joe cartoons always have dark hair. This is how I broke it down for my son as he continuously asked who was a good guy and who was a bad guy. Apparently, this is a very imp0rtant question for kids his age.

A few scenes later we see an old video of a professor in some laboratory. This is reminiscent of the Dharma Initiative scenes from Lost. My guess is that every character on this show is actually already dead and once the Joes and the Cobras learn to get along, they’ll all meet up in some weird looking church. Just a hunch.

We are quickly introduced to another bad guy. We know that this guy is bad because his head is made out of metal. In GI Joe cartoons, if you see a guy with a metal head, he’s evil. As a side note, this also holds true for real life. People with metal heads are up to no good. The one on this episode also wears a coat and tie. He’s evil but handsomely evil. That’s especially dangerous. The girl with the black hair and black glasses, while also evil, doesn’t like the guy with the metal head. Evil people in GI Joe cartoons can never get along. That’s one reason why they never get the upper hand on the Joes.

Cue intro montage. There’s lots of graphics that probably looked really cool in 1993 and we are introduced to the Joes by a narrarator that says, “Accused of a crime they didn’t commit, a rag tag band of fugitives fights a battle to clear their names…”

Stop.

Since when did GI Joe stop being GI Joe and start being The A Team? To make matters worse, the Joes are led by a buff looking blonde dude (blonde always equals goodness in GI Joe cartoons) and the rest of the team is made up of a big, muscular black guy (think Mr. T) and a skinny, wise cracking white dude (think Murdoch). The Joes even drive a cool van just like the A Team did. The only difference is that the Joes have a girl on their team with red hair (red is a neutral color in GI Joe cartoons so keep your eye out for this one, she may turn on you, Joes). So imagine if the A Team started hanging out with Scooby Doo’s friends and you’ve got GI Joe: Renegades. “And I would have gotten away with melting the sun with this cool laser beam I invented if it weren’t for you pesky kids, I mean rag tag band of fugitives.”

The story line of the show basically centers around the red headed girl that’s with the Joes. Her name is Scarlett and her dad was, along with being a jerky dad, a scientist that worked for, get this, Cobra. Remember what I said about keeping your eyes peeled for people with red hair in GI Joe cartoons. As you can imagine, this girl had serious daddy issues. This makes the episode take a drastic turn away from the A Team and towards an episode of The Wizards of Waverly Place that “tackles the tough issues.” You’ve seen the commercials. “Tonight at 8, Hannah Montana tries to hide an acne flair up from her dream date. (Goofy voice over suddenly gets real serious) And then on a very special episode of The Wizards of Waverly Place, the kids are faced with a tough decision about (insert hot topic here: gang violence, drugs, global warming).”

It takes about half of the 30 minute episode before the Joes stop “tackling tough issues” and start firing guns. Yes, they actually have guns. This was a pleasant surprise. I was expecting the Joes on this new version to sit and talk with the Cobras instead of shoot at them. Oh, and these guns are legit. And when they hit the bad guys, it actually kills them. That’s one thing that always confused me about the old Joe cartoons. “No wonder they can’t ever beat Cobra. Every time they shoot down one of his planes the guy parachutes out.” Not in GI Joe: Renegades. Finally, score one for the new version.

There are several commercial breaks during this episode and each one begins with one or all of the Joes caught in a really bad spot, just like the original. When the commercials come on you’re left thinking, “Great, the Joes are all going to die. Now I’ve got to find a new cartoon.” You’d think one would grow wise to such trickery but no, I still thought it on this version and yes, they still made it out okay.

Also in this episode, we get to find out a little bit more about my favorite GI Joe member when I was a kid, Snake Eyes. Snake Eyes is a ninja and the coolest Joe ever. When we played on the playground at school every kid wanted to be Snake Eyes. Well, in this episode we find out that Snake Eyes doesn’t talk. No big deal. Ninjas aren’t much for chatter. But we also find out that Snake Eyes has, get this, blonde hair. What?! You can’t have a blonde haired ninja. This never works out. It’s always lame. Just ask this guy.

So in conclusion to my cultural analysis I would not recommend GI Joe: Renegades due to its attempt to tackle tough issues and its reckless uses of ninjas with blonde hair. Also, any show with the name Renegade in it that fails to some how pay homage to the original Renegade is not worth your viewing time.

And now you know to keep your kids away from GI Joe: Renegades and knowing is half the battle.