|05-09-2008, 04:32 AM||#1|
Joe Intelligence Spec.
Join Date: May 2008
Location: Pevely, MO
How G.I. Joe Changed a Generation
Why A Real American Hero Was Successful
The premise is a simple one, but it is also a complex one that is rooted in the fans' personal lives. We all have our own personal history that has shaped our understanding of the world, the toys we played with, the comics we read, and the television shows we watch. I would say that my experience is a typical one in regards to G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero for someone that was 12-13 when they were first released in 1982. Based upon my own experiences I will share my view on why the only G.I. Joe series that was successful was A Real American Hero and to highlight why it changed my generation. It's not only a story about my life but about my father's life as well as they are interconnected.
I was born in 1969 and my father was a Vietnam veteran. This shaped both of our lives to a great extent, so much so that it's hard to put it all into words. He served one tour of duty with the United States Army in the Mekong River Delta from December, 1966 to December, 1967. Out of his platoon of sixty five that left Fort Riley, Kansas only three of them walked out of Vietnam alive while the rest went home in body bags. Upon my father's arrival into the states after his tour he was assaulted and verbally abused by the anti-war protesters who called him, among other things, a baby killer. In my father's case this was true since he had been ordered during his tour to clear out a village and in one hooch a woman nursing a child refused to comply. In another instance, the boy that shined their shoes charged their position during a firefight armed with a satchel charge and my dad had to shoot the 12 year old boy. I cannot make any moral judgments because this has occurred numerous times through out history of where governments used children as soldiers.
There were other events that shaped his life and mine that occurred in that year of duty. One of the most vivid was watching him use a tiller to clear a garden without his shirt on. Knife scars criss-crossed his back and at 8 years old I ask him what happened to his back. He told me about how he was a P.O.W. for a short time and was tortured by the Viet Cong. He also told me of his escape from their custody and how he was involved in black operations. As I got older I saw the toll that the war had taken on him like the flashbacks, the screaming for medevacs and medics, the alcoholism, and the other trauma he endured for his country. When I was 18 I told my dad that he was my hero because he came home alive. He brought out his awards and his photo album from his tour and gave them to me. He had me sit down and he pointed out every man in it with the only comment he made was, ďHe's dead.Ē
Before the events of what happened at 18, 6 years prior G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero was released as a toy and comic book. I got several of the first series toys for Christmas and my birthday plus the occasional comic. One of the toys I received was Snake Eyes and his file card struck a chord with me because his experiences were similar to what my dad had endured in Vietnam. I identified with Snake Eyes and through it I began to understand what my father went through in Vietnam coupled with me reading about the war from the historical standpoint. Both my father and Snake Eyes were called to serve their country through a draft notice. Both endured the tragedy of losing the majority of their squad/platoon. Both fought their personal demons from their time in country. The similarities between my dad and a comic book character were amazing. I'm pretty sure that I'm not the only one who had a similar revelation and gained an understanding of what happened to their mother or father that served in country.
The most important thing G.I. Joe taught me was that it was okay to be supportive of the military. It was okay to look up to your parents and other veterans of that war and to tell them that you're proud of their service. The final thing was that it brought healing for families like mine and closure to the war that still raged in our parents minds. This is why G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero changed my generation and why it is so successful. The toy lines that came from the specialist squads were they were too politically correct and rang hollow as well as the message it sent was to trust the government etc... This went against what G.I. Joe A Real American Hero was about which was to honor those that served in Vietnam. The attempts failed to recreate the series with the same characters with a different background was mainly due to their not being any major wars or long drawn out conflicts like my father served in or the message was completely different then what the original was. This is why the changes instituted by Devil's Due have received mixed reactions from long time fans.
An example of their changes was the removal of any and all references to Vietnam for Stalker, Snake Eyes, and Storm Shadow.
Ten years ago this December 6, I will have laid my father to rest at the young age of 52. The government saw fit to turn its back on my father's service by denying him full military honors. The only thing the government gave my father for his tour of duty was a flag and tombstone. From my father's life and mine you can see how this is a negative thing since Vietnam nearly ripped this country apart as well as the treatment of the veterans of that war.
In closing, the reason why G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero was successful and changed my generation was because it used real life events and struck a chord with those who were the children of Vietnam veterans. We saw what the government did to our parents and how the government treated these veterans as well as how this impacted our lives. Can the success of G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero be recreated? Yes, but only if the writers of the revisioned series can strike a chord with the next generation, but it hasn't happened yet. Can the movie live up to our expectations? Most likely not since it also turns its back upon the veterans while spitting on their service.
|05-09-2008, 08:33 AM||#2|
Join Date: Aug 2006
Location: Scottsburg, Indiana
The War in Iraq would be a good basis for continuing the Joe series.
My father served in Vietnam too. I remember the flashbacks he used to have, and like most others he was also an alcoholic. Some of my fondest memories as a kid were when he would take me to the toy store to buy GI Joes. And like you, I also told my dad that he was my hero. He wept (way different than just crying).
|05-11-2008, 05:30 PM||#3|
Joe Intelligence Spec.
Join Date: May 2008
Location: Pevely, MO
Here's to our dads and may they be cherished for their lives, but also for their service.
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