GI Joe: Retaliation Viral Video Subverts Military Recruitment Ads

The only real difference between this recruitment video for Cobra and one for any other military force is the name of the organisation. Well, that and the fact that it’s fictional – you couldn’t join up even if you didn’t have that thing wrong with your you-know-what.

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Sure, if you know GI Joe lore you’ll know that Cobra are “the bad guys” but this video isn’t telling you that at all. Here, they’re an army. Like any other army.

Bold move on Paramount’s part.

Of course, the studio’s get out of jail free card is that the villain of GI Joe: Retaliation, the one who controls Cobra, isn’t a rightfully elected president but a lookalike who stole power. One might argue that resonates with what went down in Florida in 2000, but others would counter-argue, of course.

An extra hilarious twist is that the “official recruitment website” lists a calendar of upcoming “Cobra Events.” These include marathons and Tough Mudder challenges, but also monster truck rallies, NASCAR and WWE events and a Kid Rock concert. Cobra! Fuck yeah!

I doubt that Retaliation is going to go all the way here. There’s probably still going to be a well-defined good army and a bad army, even if the good guys, the Joes, are disavowed, under the radar, maybe even “rag tag.” They will need people to shoot at, after all.

But, still, I really do hope GI Joe: Retaliation is smart and subversive, unexpected and provocative. I won’t let myself expect it, but I’ll hope for it.