View Full Version : Go Joe!

10-30-07, 03:58 PM
Go Joe!

A few weeks ago, THE WEEKLY STANDARD ran one of its better parodies, this awesome bit in response to the news that Paramount was planning a film adaptation of G.I. Joe in the wake of the powerful box office performance of Transformers. The Not-a-Parody origin of the gag was news that Paramount was re-conceptualizing the G.I. Joe team to make it a multi-national force based in Brussels, and whose acronym stands for “Global Integrated Joint Operating Entity." Since then, the project has picked up a director, Stephen Sommers, best known for his bland 1999 The Mummy (and his terrible 2004 Van Helsing).

The G.I. Joe team’s enemy in the movie is reported to be a Scottish arms-dealer/terrorist (Destro, we presume); Cobra Commander and his shadowy terrorist organization--which have credible real-life analogues today--are to play only a minor role. Which is silly, of course.

Mind you, back when G.I. Joe was last popular during the 1980s, the idea of a global terrorist outfit seeking to overthrow Western civilization sounded kind of far-fetched. It was a bit odd to have the Joes fighting Cobra when America had a real enemy, right in front of it in the Soviet Union. But the toymakers and comics writers who gave us G.I. Joe weren't comfortable depicting an enemy force that looked like the enemy the country was actually facing. Instead the Russians were rarely depicted and when they were, it was in the guise of the Oktober Guard, a group of highly-trained, totally sympathetic soldiers who were just like the Joes. So there is a (dishonorable) precedent for Paramount going out of their way not to have the Joes facing off against an organization that looks uncomfortably like al Qaeda. But whatever.

All of this seemed more amusing than insulting until I came across Vin Suprynowicz’s excellent column on the origins of the G.I. Joe toy-line:

On Guadalcanal, the Marines struggled to complete an airfield that could threaten the Japanese route to Australia. Admiral Yamamoto knew how dangerous that was. Before long, relentless Japanese counterattacks had driven the supporting U.S. Navy from inshore waters. The Marines were on their own.

As Platoon Sgt. Mitchell Paige and his 33 riflemen set about carefully emplacing their four water-cooled .30-caliber Brownings on that hillside, 65 years ago this week--manning their section of the thin khaki line that was expected to defend Henderson Field against the assault of the night of Oct. 25, 1942--it's unlikely anyone thought they were about to provide the definitive answer to that most desperate of questions: How many able-bodied U.S. Marines does it take to hold a hill against 2,000 armed and motivated attackers?

But by the time the night was over, "The 29th (Japanese) Infantry Regiment has lost 553 killed or missing and 479 wounded among its 2,554 men," historian Lippman reports. "The 16th (Japanese) Regiment's losses are uncounted, but the 164th's burial parties handled 975 Japanese bodies. . . . The American estimate of 2,200 Japanese dead is probably too low."

You've already figured out where the Japanese focused their attack, haven't you? Among the 90 American dead and seriously wounded that night were all the men in Mitchell Paige's platoon. Every one. As the night of endless attacks wore on, Paige moved up and down his line, pulling his dead and wounded comrades back into their foxholes and firing a few bursts from each of the four Brownings in turn, convincing the Japanese forces down the hill that the positions were still manned.

The citation for Paige's Medal of Honor picks up the tale: "When the enemy broke through the line directly in front of his position, P/Sgt. Paige, commanding a machine gun section with fearless determination, continued to direct the fire of his gunners until all his men were either killed or wounded. Alone, against the deadly hail of Japanese shells, he fought with his gun and when it was destroyed, took over another, moving from gun to gun, never ceasing his withering fire."

In the end, Sgt. Paige picked up the last of the 40-pound, belt-fed Brownings and did something for which the weapon was never designed. Sgt. Paige walked down the hill toward the place where he could hear the last Japanese survivors rallying to move around his flank, the belt-fed gun cradled under his arm, firing as he went. . . .

And that's where the unstoppable wave of Japanese conquest finally crested, broke, and began to recede. On an unnamed jungle ridge on an insignificant island no one ever heard of, called Guadalcanal.

When the Hasbro Toy Co. called some years back, asking permission to put the retired colonel's face on some kid's doll, Mitchell Paige thought they must be joking.

But they weren't. That's his mug, on the little Marine they call "G.I. Joe." At least, it has been up till now.

Mitchell Paige's only condition? That G.I. Joe must always remain a United States Marine.


G.I. Joe was just a toy, wasn't he?


10-30-07, 05:37 PM
Global Integrated Joint Operating Entity?

That's gay. I hope that movie sucks.

10-30-07, 05:38 PM