Viking Night - Team America: World Police
By Bruce Hall
April 8, 2014
There are a lot of ways to find out you’ve finally grown up. One of them is when people stop running up to you the morning after South Park airs and say “Holy crap, did you see South Park last night?!?” It’s not that I don’t occasionally see an episode, or that I’ve lost the ability to admire Trey Parker and Matt Stone’s universally offensive brand of satire. Anyone who can enrage blowhards on the political left AND right, from top to bottom - on a weekly basis - is just an absolutely terrific person in my book. I never stopped enjoying satire, but somewhere along the way I DID stop associating shit jokes and dick metaphors with sophisticated humor. So three years removed from 9/11, leave it to the South Park guys to remind us of the fine line between patriotism and jingoism, between pacifism and just being a gutless coward.
These are all things worth examining during a time of war, when anxiety runs high at all points on the political spectrum. The only question in my mind is, would it work without all the dick jokes? I think that’s really the mark of quality satire - how well does it pair with dick jokes? Well, there’s probably no movie ever made better suited to test this than Team America: World Police. Maybe you’re a flag waving, chest thumping, Toby Keith listening-to redneck. Maybe you’re a full on tree hugging hippie whose Toyota Prius permanently reeks of patchouli. Or, maybe you’re normal. Either way, you’ve probably heard American foreign policy referred to as some kind of World Police force. Some people see the most powerful country in the history of the world recklessly projecting power around the globe, meddling in the affairs of other nations, trying to force them all to adopt our values and live the way we do.
I’m not here to take sides on this, but I guess I wouldn’t want the Canadian government trying to force me to watch hockey or put mayonnaise on my delicious Freedom Fries. On the other hand, if Brazil wants me to assimilate into their society of six foot tall supermodels, I already have the paperwork filled out. So, the joke behind Team America is “What if we really did have a hyper-stylized paramilitary attack force ready to penetrate enemy territory and take down terrorist scumbags with extreme prejudice? And what if they had brightly colored vehicles and uniforms that let everyone know they weren’t just badasses...they were AMERICAN badasses? And what if they had a bitchin’ theme song? Oh...and there’s one more thing...what if they were puppets?
Wait, what? Yes, puppets. Apparently there was a TV show back in the '60s called Thunderbirds. It was about a hyper-stylized paramilitary attack force ready to penetrate enemy territory and take down terrorist scumbags with extreme prejudice. But this was back when “terrorism” was a thing that existed only in comic books, and some place called Vietnam that everyone will probably forget about by next year. So, Thunderbirds was a terrible show with a terrible theme song that sounded like it was written by your mom, and the cast was made up entirely of hideous, dead-eyed marionettes. Google the show - today, our prisons are probably full of gray haired old men who never amounted to anything, the image of those horrifying puppets still seared into their minds - even after stabbing their own eyes out with a shrimp fork.