G.I. Joe PSAs: Part Two

It’s time for another round of those wholesome-yet-weird PSAs that were tacked on at the end of every G.I. Joe cartoon in the 1980s! We’ll begin with…

The Dare

As our two children in this PSA are African-American, the PSA inexplicably busts out a ’70s soul-funk version of the G.I. Joe theme song. Seriously. Shaft contemplates suing.

Our two smart, intelligent, and above all else, safe children are messing around at a construction site where a house is being built. “We shouldn’t be in here — let’s go!” Sally, the girl, says. In Joe PSAs, girls are never, ever idiots, although they often do suffer from being mute.

Showing wisdom beyond his years, her brother Sean actually says, “Okay, follow me!” Sean then does a gigantic Spider-Man leap over a moat surrounding the house. It’s quite impressive. Said moat, by the way, is about three feet wide and one foot deep, more like a mild depression in the dirt.

Sally ain’t having any of this nonsense. She freezes in terror, looking with worry at the moat and her imminent doom. “What’s the matter,” Sean taunts. “You chicken?” Wow, major Back to the Future flashbacks! “I can’t jump that far!” Sally whines. What do they teach kids in these schools, anyway? Giving up and never trying because your widdle wegs can’t hack it?

“Okay, chicken, I’m leaving you here!” Sean decides. Neither of them seem to quickly catch on to the fact that a certain female Joe is standing not six feet to the side of them.

Hey! It’s Lady Jaye! Now, every red-blooded male G.I. Joe fan had their preference between the three female Joes, and Jaye had my heart from the first time I saw the little semiautomatic mynx. What can I say? Girls packing a quiver full of explosive arrows are hot. “Use your head, Sally!” she calls out. Well, I would think Sally should be using the legs God gave her and maybe a bit of her spine, too, but Joes are fixated on heads. They’re so round and shapely and fit very nice on the mantle after they’ve been cleaned and bleached. “There’s nothing chicken about being smart,” she continues.

Joes are so hypocritical. You’ll never watch one of their adventures and see them practicing safe anything if confronted with an obstacle. If this were the battlefield instead of some safety lesson, and the moat was filled with poisonous vipers, rusty nails and barbed wire, I’d bet you a hundred bucks Lady Jaye would run and jump backwards over it just out of principle.

Sally hunts around and finds a plank to get across the moat. Oh, may I interject with a mild thought? Seeing as how the moat goes all the way around the house, the house they were just standing in, shouldn’t Sally have already dealt with the whole moat-crossing issue to get in the house in the first place?

Sean gives up his taunting for an admirable: “That’s using your head!” “Instead of losing it!” Sally replies, falling off the board and giving herself a severe concussion. “Now I gargggghhhh…”

“AND KNOWING IS HALF THE BATTLE! G.I. JOE!”

Impulsivity vs Planning Ahead

“Impulsivity vs Planning Ahead”?! There’s something just demented about the use of “impulsivity” here in a child PSA; I have no idea if I’ve ever used that word in normal, civilized conversation. “Charlie, you need to control your impulsivity or else I’ll release the brain worms on ya!”

In today’s PSA, Harry is looking up at Wilbur, who is perched from a tiny platform 30 feet up in a tree. “Great treehouse!” Harry approves, obviously overlooking Wilbur’s lack of a ladder, proper plumbing or the four walls and a roof that would construe an actual house. Still, props to Wilbur for doing all of that on his own — it looks pretty sound, and that’s a lot of construction work for his alleged two days of building it.

Oh, how the mighty will fall, once a Joe shows up to put a rocket launcher to Wilbur’s pride.

To emphasize his sound craftmanship, Wilbur hammers his fist down on the railing (see? He BUILT a railing! What more do you want, Joes?) and of course the whole thing just about explodes apart. There’s a frightful moment where Wilbur is hanging by a board that’s only attached by two well-hammered nails (see? He’s not THAT shabby of a carpenter!).

“Hold on!” a nosey voice interjects. A Joe runs onto the scene just as Wilbur drops, and although the Joe is clearly nowhere near Wilbur’s fall zone, the boy still lands in the arms of a half-naked warrior. “Wicket!” Wilbur cries out. Or maybe it’s “Quicket!” In any case, the Joe is naked waist up except for what appears to be a single suspender strap over his left shoulder. That’s where the key battle armor protection takes place!

“I guess I was in too much of a hurry.” Wilbur buries his head in his hands, shoulders shaking from his intense sobs at his failure. Oh, how could he ever have been so foolish to think he could’ve done something without a Joe to help him! Here comes the moral, kids:

“Remember, anything worth doing is worth planning.” Although I’m quite sure that they have longer prison sentences for premeditated murder vs. impulsive acts of passionate homicide, so that might not pan out for Wilbur in the end.

“AND KNOWING IS HALF THE BATTLE! G.I. JOE!”

Better Solution

It’s an exciting baseball game between the Springfield Filet O’ Fishes and the Jacksonville Chicken McNuggets! As we tune in, a runner is rounding third, sweat on his brow and determination in his heart. Also, heartworms. He makes for home base, which is easy considering that it’s literally three steps away from third. A slide in and…

He’s out! He’s safe! The catcher and the runner seem to have a mild disagreement, but this is turning uglier than that hockey game where I poured itching powder into the jock straps of both teams. Happy for a fight, teammates from both sides rush the home plate — and it’s important to note that the view the camera gives us shows that they’re all identically dressed, for a casual game where the runner was wearing blue jeans.

“HOLD ON THERE!” Geez, just once, I wish it was Superman. His heat vision could solve things so much more quickly than the inevitable Joe lecture. It’s Cotter, the only Joe who wears half a life jacket and doesn’t feel any different for it. “When people disagree,” he butts in, “sometimes they need someone who’s not involved to settle things!” Oh, so Cotter’s calling in the U.N.? Seems like a waste of their resources and manpower, but oh well.

“Johnny could ump,” the catcher gurgles with glee. “He’s not rooting for either team!” This is the weird part: the catcher points to a previously unseen man standing behind the protective chain link fence. Johnny’s standing there in a military “at ease” stance, not saying a word, not doing anything. He might actually be a statue, for all the catcher knows. But I suppose a statue that umps is better than a whole bunch of lumps! See? I can make those bad Joe PSA puns too!

“AND KNOWING IS HALF THE BATTLE! G.I. JOE!”

Teamwork

Two big themes of these PSAs are (1) kids putting themselves in mortal danger, and (2) teasing. I’m not sure why G.I. Joe feels the need to protect the emotional welfare of our country’s youth, but all I know is that they most certainly weren’t there on April 13th, 1984, when Donny Harris was picking on me during lunch in the 3rd grade.

This time around, we’re enthralled with an exciting game of soccer (or, as Europeans call it, “the game that Americans call ‘soccer'”). The opposing team runs down the field, and one player yells to the goalie, “Billy! The ball!” This is generally good advice for soccer playing, as shouting “Billy! The rainbow!” would not exactly lead your team to victory.

A kick is made, the ball rushes for the goal, Billy leaps… and falls well short of stopping the goal. Billy might as well dig his grave right then and there to avoid the coming humiliation.

“You TURKEY! Now we might LOSE!” one of his teammates says in anger. Of course you might lose — the other turkeys on your team let the opposing players get the ball well past you and down to your own goal line… and who’s fault is that? Not Billy-Turkey. Not even Mr. Turkey.

“Hold on!” a wizened voice commands (“Flint!” everybody cries out, on cue). Flint continues: “Will yelling at Billy help?”

“No,” I say. “But it IS a lot of fun. You should try it!”

Flint encourages the whole team (including a -gasp- girl) to play as a team. He also offers to set up a perimeter of land mines around their goal to maim any would-be scorers on the other side. Billy then takes the ball and proceeds to kick it well over 3/4 of the way to the other side (wow) where one of his teammates assists for the goal. “All right!” they all cheer. The other team starts calling each other “turkey”, but Flint only likes teams that wear yellow, not orange. “You need teamwork to win, not arguments!” Flint yells over the other team’s bickering. “Now we know!” says an idiot.

“AND KNOWING IS HALF THE BATTLE! G.I. JOE!”

Medicine Cabinet

Oh goody… with a title like “medicine cabinet”, you just KNOW it’s gonna be a keeper!

Two kids are sitting in a room. Something I’m noticing is that the boys in these PSAs are usually named Bobby, Billy, or John, and the girls Becky or Sally. I think they use a stockpile of clones to film, not really caring if the clone dies on the first take — there’s always another!

“Bobby, my stomach hurts!” whines the girl, her giant puffy hair weighing down her head. I could see so many paths this PSA could go from here — Bobby ignores Sally and her stomach explodes with an unstoppable alien that will require the destruction of the Nostromo to kill, or Sally might burp. Bobby instead offers kindly to go get her some medicine. Seeing as how Bobby looks like he’s 17, I’m fairly confident he can find the Pepto-Bismol without any trouble. But for the Joes, Bobby’s certainly going to be pouring Drain-O down his sister’s windpipe.

“I’ll get you some of dad’s medicine,” he says as they walk to the bathroom. “It’s real strong stuff.” I’d just like to point out that while this PSA is titled “medicine cabinet,” the bottle Bobby grabs is merely on a shelf in the bathroom. Odd.

As he’s reaching for it, fingers nearly grasping Sally’s impending overdose, a voice calls out from the window. “That’s…”

Long pause. The characters and the camera turn to the window. It’s a Joe medic standing weirdly right outside, as if he’s been on a bathroom stakeout, just waiting for a wrong move or for Bobby’s mom to come home and shower. There’s literally no way that Joe response time to these little disasters could be so quick otherwise.

After the unnaturally long pause, he continues. “…a prescription for danger!” It’s Doc! But where, praytell, is Sneezy, Dopey, and the rest of the gang?

Lecture mode: “Never take medicine without an adult present… blah blah… except if your dad does coke off the blade of a knife… blah blah… better to let Sally die than make your own decisions.”

“Hey, mom’s home!” Sally leaves to go get her parent to call the police about the mysterious lurker in the bushes outside. I hope they taser the jerk; it’s fun when they flop around.

“AND KNOWING IS HALF THE BATTLE! G.I. JOE!”

Try, Try Again

Also entitled, “G.I. Joe Swimsuit Edition.” I prefer mine to theirs.

Scarlett is one of the three female Joes; I think the third one is a janitor on the detention level or something. Anyway, she was quite popular among boys who would collect her action “figure” and imagine their wedding day. So here you go, boys: Scarlett, in a bikini, in the water.

Before that, we learn the heartbreaking story of Jessica, a girl who’s trying to learn how to waterski. One unsuccessful pull from the boat, and she flops in the water, both shoulders dislocated and her spirit discombobulated. In other words, she’s majorly bummed, dude. “I’ll never learn how to ski!” she whines. At least, that’s what the soundtrack wants to make you think she is saying; her mouth doesn’t really move much, and this dubbing continues for the rest of this PSA.

“Especially if you quit trying!” Scarlett, the red-headed queen of the Joes, comes rushing to Jessica’s side. “You’ll never win if you give up,” she blurts out, only realizing seconds later how redundant and stupid that advice is. Then Scarlett makes Jessica remember, with extensive hypnotherapy, that it was hard learning how to ride a bike, too. You can see Jessica’s brain click: “OHHHH.”

And just like that, Jessica’s up on the skis, and Scarlett steps off the COBRA assassin that she was drowning underwater.

“AND KNOWING IS HALF THE BATTLE! G.I. JOE!”

Bicycle Safety

Two kids are riding their bikes. And they’re not being safe! Is it because they’re trying to pop wheelies over a pit of half-starving German shepherds? Or are they trying to catch the bumpers of cars and pull a free ride? No, apparently they’re riding as “it’s getting dark!” Dark, in this sense, is about one mild shade dimmer than a full nuclear explosion, but I’ll take their word for it.

I haven’t made much out of the fashion sense these kids are showing in these PSAs, but it’s simply atrocious. It’s like these kids are refugees from 1974, and it’ll never end for them. In this case, these two biker boys are wearing dress pants, sweaters and a huge-collared shirt under them. Biking to prep school, apparently.

“Look out! A car!” Oh hooray, this isn’t going to be one of those “you could’ve done something to get yourself hurt” PSAs, but instead “holy cow, you could’ve been killed!” ones. They blithely ride through an intersection (which isn’t boasting any stop signs either way, so I’m guessing cars in this town are free to roam as they will). A military jeep swerves and nearly splatters the boys in its wheel-wells. A soldier decked out in camo gear runs toward them, ready for the spanking of their lives.

As per Joe PSA law, the kids have to say his name before anything else: “Dusty!”

“We didn’t see you!” a boy exclaims. “And I couldn’t see you!” Dusty dimly replies. Did they have a rendezvous planned or something?

The screen wipes to show us a pair of kids riding bikes, equipped with miniature suns attached to their spokes. “No wonder,” Dusty narrates, “You didn’t have reflectors!” Oh, is that what those things are? My eyes no longer function after having gazed at their radiant glory.

“They tell drivers where you are,” another explanation. Well, reflectors and if the driver actually wants to use his or her eyes to scan the road for obstacles/points. Dusty pounds the point in for another few seconds: get the right gear and wear bright, ideally reflecting clothes. Maybe that’s not even good enough; the kids each should be towing a giant spotlight focused on them at all times, like angels out for a spin. Or the kids should send up flares every thirty seconds, even if there are low-flying aircraft landing nearby.

“AND KNOWING IS HALF THE BATTLE! G.I. JOE!”

Stereotyping

It’s a rad skateboarding park! Three boys are swooping and speeding along, each one of them wearing 75 pounds of safety equipment, each, to keep any Joes out of the area. So far, it seems to work. “I’m on you like glue!” one boy says, in a mildly disturbing way. They end their run: “Alllllll right!”

But… oh no! It’s a… guh-guh-GIRL! And she’s not their to bake them cookies or sew their socks, either! “Hi guys, can I skate with you?” she asks reasonably. At this point, I heartily wish the other kids would’ve said yes, just so that the nearby lurking Joe would have to go away, disappointed. But the heartlessness of small children knows no bounds: “Nah, you’re just a girl!”

Oh no. Now you kids have done it.

“NO KIDDING!” military boots step into the picture. Why, it’s Gung Ho, with his Gung Naked Chest, Gung Tattoo and Gung Moustache. I wonder if kids ever thought it was okay to get large tattoos because of G.I. Joe. Hey, it’s in the PSA, so it must be all right, right? “Try, you might be surprised,” Gung Ho says, thinking back to when a girl beat him up last week and took his lunch money.

This girl promptly takes off and does some fancy moves. “Wow, look at that!” one boy exclaims, and I’m not sure if he’s talking about her moves… or not. Hold on for the moral! 3… 2… 1… “Don’t judge people until you give them a chance!” And then what? Judge your little heart out?

“AND KNOWING IS HALF THE BATTLE! G.I. JOE!”

False Alarms

Golly, these PSAs are giving me a whole assortment of dangerous activities to participate in that I never would’ve thought of on my own. Thanks, Joes!

Two boys — in JoeTown, they always roam in pairs of Mormons — spot a fire alarm on the street. Um, on the street? Have you ever spied a fire alarm sitting on a metal pole in the street in your life? Is the fire department afraid that the concrete is going to suddenly burst into flames? This puzzles me.

Goofus wants to push it. So does Justin. Gallant urges restraint. Justin spits on him. Since the fire alarm is uncovered (!) and at kid level, Goofus almost gets there before his hand is caught and twisted ruthlessly. “That kind of fun can cost a life!” Barbeque says, knowing that for every fire alarm pulled, the fire department is contractually obligated to hunt down and kill one hobo.

Barbeque removes his helmet… er, what? Why would he be walking down the street with that thing on, on days other than Halloween? “Making false alarms can keep the firefighters from the REAL action!” he drawls, as the screen wipes to show a fire in progress and burning bodies falling from windows. Well, that happened in my mind; in this PSA, the firefighters are there helping out. “A few seconds can mean the difference between LIFE and DEATH!” A firefighter makes a miraculous save of an old lady from a balcony, seconds before COBRA command blows it up with death rays from an orbiting satellite.

Then Barbeque, in all of his JFK glory, spouts my favorite line of the day: “Remembah, a fiyah fighter’s job is to fight fiyahs!”

“AND KNOWING IS HALF THE BATTLE! G.I. JOE!”

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