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GI Joe: A Real American Fantasy

For this post I watched the twenty-second episode from the first season of GI Joe: A Real American Hero, titled “The Funhouse.” In this episode, Cobra Commander has kidnapped a group of scientists and imprisoned them in his temple base in South America. Cobra imprisoned the scientists to try and draw the GI Joe team into an elaborate fun house of traps that he constructed inside the island base. At the end of the episode the team overcomes Cobra’s traps and rescues the group of scientists, all before the bomb planted by Cobra underneath the base explodes.

This episode of GI Joe relates well to Cross’ ideas that PLC’s in the 1980’s showed children a fantasy world that didn’t relate to the actual world around them. According to Cross, toys and t.v. characters of the 1980s’s,” fought in fantastic miniworlds of rocketry and lasers where the child could not fully identify with the creature or violent acts he performed” (Cross, 291). This idea ties in with the GI Joe series. In the episode both Cobra and the Joe team utilize weapons that fire lasers, and real bullets are never actually displayed. This allows the child watching the show to fantasize that no one is ever actually killed in conflict. The victims of laser wounds always get up later if they are an important character to the show. By idealizing combat in this way, the child is completely removed from the actual horrors of battle, and never has to rationalize the violence they are shown. The Cobra enemies presented are also made to look more like robot soldiers than actual people, which further removes children from reality, as countless waves of faceless Cobra soldiers are mowed down in the Joe assault on the base. In this way, television  producers in the 1980’s could show fantasy conflicts and weapons without having to worry about excessive backlash from concerned parents over the televised violence.



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