"There is always a philosophy for lack of courage."—Albert Camus

Thursday, November 04, 2004

Team America Are Thunderbirds a Go-Go

As Hunter Baker notes, Team America: World Police is uneven but funny. The film certainly refers to many contemporary issues and personalities, and its comical violence, brazen vulgarity, and scatalogical and sexual humor certainly identify it as a product of our time.

However, I think an underappreciated aspect of the film is the 1960s side of it. The main concept, after all, is based on those cheesy mid-1960s TV marionette shows such as Supercar and especially Thunderbirds. Several of the Team America members look suspiciously like various Thunderbirds characters, as is evident in these pictures at the Thunderbirds site.

There are many other 1960s motifs in the film, such as the use of Kim Jong-Il—one of the few remaining Communist leaders in the world—as villain.

Why is this interesting? Because the viewer will take away from the film a very serious view of the War on Terror, a realization that the current war is as important, difficult, and serious as was the Cold War. Yes, Team America knocks down a few tourist attractions and some innocent bystanders in the zealous pursuit of their duty, but the enemy they are fighting really does want to harm all of us, and not by accident but by intention.

The film makes this very clear, through both action and dialogue, and the 1960s aspects of it keep bringing the Cold War back to mind, continually reminding us of the vastness of the forces now arrayed against America and the rest of the developed world, and expressing—in a very comical context, of course—exactly what is at stake. Team America are definitely on the side of good. There can be no question that although the filmmakers recognize all of America's many faults, they know that what we have is far better than what the other side has in mind for its own people, let alone what it would have in store for us.

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