Friday, December 12, 2014

DotTeeVee: Cobra's Economic Recovery Plan

You would think you could safely dismiss eighties cartoons designed to sell low-quality plastic toys as a source of cutting edge political commentary, but you'd be completely in error to do so. From old episodes of "Silverhawks" that explored flat tax proposals to the questions of rule of law and human rights frequently raised by "Central Organization of Police Specialists" these cheaply animated and lazily written morality plays are an absolute gold mine of complex socio-political theorizing as opposed to our televised news programs which are little more than reheated Soviet-era Pravda with better make-up and hair styles and less "That's Vodka For You!" humorous asides.

Consider today's subject, lifted from "G.I. Joe." Even without the Big Ideas that inevitably took center stage it was a memorable cartoon, teaching a generation that war is a bloodless theme park ride where the most effective weapon is the human fist. Seriously, the laser guns that were heavily featured are completely incapable of hitting a biological target (vehicles and robots get torn to bits, oddly enough). Instead five to the face is the most effective anti-terrorism countermeasure. The only problem is there are at least a few problems that can't be defeated by punching them. Problems like fiat currency, the gold standard and how evil anthropomorphic snake monsters can turn them against us.

The clip starts in typical cartoon villain fashion, with the "whatever device" de jour being prepared for a trial run in the headquarters of the malevolent COBRA organization, a sort of non-denominational group dedicated to trolling the world with ill-conceived evil. I'm talking things like defacing the moon or shooting mind control rays into our loved ones, all too typical and banal. Well, today's psychotic prank is going to be a little more original.

Let's declare victory now, I'm sure this arrogance won't come back to bite me later.

The device is activated by a man with a metal head who still seems capable of showing the full range of facial movement despite this rather obvious disability. A stack of money, the poor innocent victim of these monsters, bursts into flames. No, anything but that! Cobra Commander celebrates in his typical over the top and more than a little effeminate fashion. Stoic and capable are two words we're not going to be using to describe this man-snake villain. 

Meanwhile some of our heroes are apparently gambling while on duty (they all have their impractical and totally unique uniforms on). Apparently the stakes are pretty high based on the pile of cash in the center of the table, which I find a little hard to believe in light of the fact that even high-ranking officers in charge of our nuclear arsenal can't afford this sort of problem gambling. Anyway, we quickly check off the usual poker game cliches (Gotta pay to see 'em, too rich for my blood, who dealt this mess, where's my luck, etc) and get a chance to highlight the half-assed nature of this show in a long shot where the cards and table are the same color to save the animators several precious minutes of giving the cards actual backs. Later the cards will have red backs, but who honestly cares. We're here to learn Austrian School Economics, after all.

The pre-9-11 American military.

The purpose of this scene, of course, is so the money can explode, thus alerting our heroes to the latest menace facing the Free World. The fact that this makes them look somewhat less than pro-active and even derelict in their duty doesn't really matter since it efficiently moves the plot forward and we've got toys to sell here. Money being attacked. This is bad. Got it.

              If we gambled with matchsticks like normal soldiers this wouldn't have happened.

Democracy's last line of defense panics and then lapses into empty threats, which I have to concede is a pretty accurate depiction of what would really happen in such a crisis. Cobra Commander then appears on the big screen to drop exposition on us, essentially rendering this goofy scene meaningless. He delivers what resembles a mid-term election soft-money ad (Call Snake Eyes and tell him our children matter!) more than villainous blackmail, going on about the irresponsible fiscal policy of our leaders, economic restructuring ("This is awesome!" says eight-year-old Timmy) and "the worthless green paper your government has deceived you into thinking is valuable." Yes friends, "End the Fed" was inspired by this episode.

While the horrific serpent-man announces his Tea Party candidacy we get various wacky vignettes of an ATM machine dispensing handfuls of ash, money burning in some woman's wall safe and a used car dealership interaction where both the lemon and the money paid for it self-destruct. Anyone who says this show can't do intentional humor needs to check themselves, this stuff is top shelf.

 Home Alone Part 27: Abandoned in Assisted Living.

Justifiably outraged citizens gather around the treasury building chanting "We Want Money!" Well I think it's the treasury. It's either that or another Democratic Party Presidential Convention. Inside, the money is all ruined while some civilian that doesn't even get his own action figure talks doom and gloom. Apparently there's massive rioting and looting and the only way to restore order is to somehow revive the fiction that inked-up pieces of cloth have actual value. In summary, "printing new currency," which should always be the go-to solution for everything, is off the table. 

We need you to tell us who this "John Galt" is.

While our special forces gripe ineffectually, Cobra Commander has apparently purchased more television time. I have a feeling this episode ends with G.I. Joe proposing campaign finance reform laws. This time the terrorist leader is announcing "Cobra's Economic Recovery Plan." You know, as evil as this guy is even he wouldn't bail out bankers, so I'm willing to listen. Like any good politician he reminds us of the children (sadly no "folks," "good book," or "God's green Earth) and demands we bring all our goods to a legitimate business he apparently runs when he's not shrinking world leaders or sending "trouble bubbles" to shoot at various military hardware.

What do we get for our worldly possessions? The answer, of course, is a return to the Gold Standard via "Cobra Currency." I mean, I don't support carving the Cobra symbol into the moon or anything, but compared to 18 trillion and counting in debt this seems pretty reasonable. G.I. Joe is all "I can't believe this idiot revealed where his secret corporate base is" and with that the clip ends. Will our heroes save us from being nailed to the Cross of Gold or will the great and noble Federal Reserve fall to pure evil? Tune in next week, I guess.

 Hope and Change.

Komment Korner

I can't believe that a cartoon is actually showing what is going to happen in 2018.


It is a scary thought that the good guys had the snakes on their chest.

I would vote for cobra.

Aaron Zehner is the author of "The Foolchild Invention" available in paperback and e-book format. Read free excerpts here and here.

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