TEAM AMERICA: WORLD POLICE: Is It Deep or Dumb? – Wisecrack Edition

TEAM AMERICA: WORLD POLICE: Is It Deep or Dumb? – Wisecrack Edition


Hey everyone, Jared here. Today we’re talking
about everyone’s favorite movie with puppet sex: Team America: World Police. The film, which creators Matt Stone and Trey
Parker imagined as a Jerry Bruckheimer flick with puppets, raised plenty of eyebrows when
it was released – though reviews were generally positive. It lampoons both mainstream American
conservatism [America f*** yeah] and liberalism “We must take radical action against the Fascists
in our own country!” during the Iraq War and the War on Terror. There’s no denying that, 15 years later,
the film is still very, very funny . But as political satire, it’s worth asking: is
it SMART political satire? Or just an excuse to sing about how bad the film Pearl Harbor
is? Let’s find out in this Wisecrack Edition
on Team America: World Police: Deep or Dump? And as everybody knows, spoilers ahead. Alright guys, let’s do a quick recap. Gary
Johnston is just your average stage actor performing in a musical about AIDS. That is,
until a man named Spottswoode recruits him to join an elite military squad devoted to
fighting terrorists. That squad, Team America, travels the globe trying to stop extremists
armed with weapons of mass destruction while leaving a trail of destruction in their wake.
Their actions are protested by the likes of Sean Penn, Alec Baldwin and other famous Hollywood
actors in the Film Actors Guild. Gary must use his acting skills to infiltrate a terrorist
cell and prevent an attack even worse than 9/11 “From what intelligence has gathered,
it would be 9/11 times 100. 9/11 times 100? Jesus- that’s- Yes, 91,100. ” – one that is
actually being masterminded by Kim-Jung Il. Before we get into the merits of the film,
it is important to understand its historical context. Team America was released a mere year and
a half after the US invasion of Iraq in 2003. In the lead-up to the invasion, President
George W. Bush used the phrase “axis of evil” during his January 2002 State of the
Union address to describe the governments of North Korea, Iran and Iraq. These regimes,
Bush alleged, exported terror and actively sought weapons of mass destruction, which
posed a danger to America in the wake of 9/11. Much of this context shines in specific jokes:
France, who was heavily criticized for not joining the American coalition to invade Iraq,
is the first victim of a terrorist attack. Hans Blix, a real-life weapons inspector who
found no evidence of chemical weapons in Iraq, finds himself threatened by Kim Jung Il before
being eaten by sharks. The film’s preoccupation with WMDs spoke to ongoing fears of attacks
by terrorists or foreign governments with nuclear weapons, dirty bombs, or chemical
weapons. “Put down the weapon of mass destruction and get down!” Now there are two main ideas we’re going
to cover today: how the film satirizes American foreign policy, and how the film satirizes
actors protesting that foreign policy. So let’s get into the first, American foreign
policy during the Bush Era. The basic tension of the film was summarized
by a New York Times article in 2004: Matt Stone and Trey Parker hate the war in iraq.
However, they suspected it might be necessary. The very title “Team America: World Police”
is a jab at neoconservatism, a political ideology prominent in the Bush administration, that
promoted American intervention globally to promote peace and democracy. In other words,
if you were a dictator not living up to the US of A’s standards on human rights, the
old red white and blue had some cruise missiles with your name on them. Or, more simply “America,
f*** yeah, coming again to save the motherf***in day yeah.” For neoconservatives, dictators
like Saddam Hussein or Kim Jung Il were prime targets for “regime change.” Of course, the idea that America should go
around saving the world has one big shortcoming: Americans themselves. Much of the film’s
subtext suggests that when it comes to world affairs, Americans are self-centered dunces.
When the movie cuts to establishing shots of France, Egypt, Panama or North Korea, each
location is marked in relation to its distance from America – as in, it’s the center of
the world. While Paris, France follows the standard for denoting a city followed by its
country, places like Cairo and the Panama Canal are described as being in “the Middle
East” or “Central America” – the joke being that Americans can’t be bothered to
learn where a place is aside from its vague geographic area. And if they DO know, well,
they need to show it “Cairo…that’s in egypt.” Each foreign location also comes adorned
with lazy stereotyping – France’s streets are made of croissants while the people spout
stereotypical phrases like “Sacre bleu!” Meanwhile, in Cairo, terrorists repeat nonsense
words like “durka” mixed with “mohammed and Jihad.” Later, the people of Panama
are depicted carrying around weed, playing steel drums and screaming “no me gusta”
as they’re swept up in a flood. And Kim Jung Il’s palace is surrounded by
menacing mountains and an ominous red glow – befitting for a member of Bush’s axis
of evil. Oh, and also some of the buildings are just chinese takeout boxes. This general ignorance informs most of Team
America’s actions, as Spotswoode admits he thought the terrorist mastermind must be
Middle Eastern, not asian. “Kim Jong Il? Why is he helping terrorists?” When Gary undergoes
a state of the art surgery to blend in with Egyptians, he’s essentially given patchy
pubes and brownface. Also, he wears a towel on his head in lieu of a turban – so there’s
that. More importantly, Team America, in the name
of saving the world, causes wanton destruction everywhere they go. “Damn, I missed him.”
After seeing Team American triumphantly declare victory over terrorism amidst the chaos they
have just wrought: the question is clear – are we the baddies? The term blowback is a term coined by the
CIA in a 1953 memo that described the possible unintended effects of their covert operation
to overthrow the Iranian government. That memo would become prescient – after the CIA
staged a coup to solidify the Iranian monarch’s power, another revolution would depose him
more than 20 years later – this time with an open hostility to America and their role
in supporting the Shah. Blowback was an increasingly relevant topic during the war on terror, especially
as people wondered if growing up in a warzone might make one predisposed to recruitment
into an anti-American terrorist organization. It’s a connection Team America explicitly
draws with scenes like this [guy saying infidels ruined his life] or as the team casually destroys
some merchants livelihood when they land [clip]. Author and professor Chalmers Johnson argued
our military interventions to stop terrorism would only “create more desperate and embittered
childless parents and parentless children, and so recruit more maddened people to the
terrorists’ cause.” “What you’re doing here, is creating a Mexican Joker!” . But as much as the film seems to understand
blowback, things get a little muddled with its crowning idea: the philosophy of d***s,
p*****s, and a-holes. First heard from a drunk guy in a bar, Gary recites this wisdom at
the climax of the film. It goes something like this: there are three kinds of people.
D***s, who just want to fuck everything, p*****s, who want everyone to get along, and a-holes,
who just s*** on everyone. P*****s don’t like d***s because they get f***ed by d***s,
but d***s also f*** a-holes, which is why p*****s should be grateful for d***s. The
message is: dictators like Kim Jung Il or Saddam Hussein are a-holes, s****ing on the
world – oppressing their citizens and posing a threat to everyone around them. American
interventionists are d***s- juiced up blowhards listening to Toby Keith thinking they can
bomb their problems into oblivion and everyone protesting them the d***s are p*****s- bleeding
heart liberals who naively think being nice can stop terrorism. Importantly, Gary realizes
that, sometimes d***s f*** too hard, and “it takes a p**** to show him that.” And thus
there is a kind of functionalist balance to American society, where d***s take care of
the hostile a-holes, while p*****s complain loud enough to stop their worst excesses. Parker and Stone are more or less reiterating
the message behind South Park’s 100th episode “I’m a Little Bit Country.” In it, the
townsfolk realize the secret to American success is having half of its citizens aggressively
advocating for war, while the other half aggressively protest war “The strength of this country
is the ability to do one thing and say another!” In this way, America can be the world’s
police while pretending they don’t want to be. Of course, the sentiment is somewhat
nonsensical, as the show even admits, “Let the flag for hypocracy fly from every pole,
cuz we’re a little big country.” It seems then, that the film is arguing for
the status quo, or at least comically justifying it. And, if you’re like most Americans,
you probably agree that the status quo is itself the real a**hole, s****ing on us all. The best correlate to what we’re going to
call the “DAP philosophy” is political realism. It stresses that, in international
relations, pretty much everyone is a d***, and a state should focus on its own self interest
when interacting with other nations. While there are a few different ways to theorize
the international realm, a competing theory to realism is liberalism, which focuses on
how international actors often come together to cooperate – so p*****s in the parlance
of Team America. Team America suggests that the ideal solution is somewhere in between,
where the machiavellian actions of realists are reigned in by a counter philosophy. It
gets tricky when we enter into a**holes: because a**holes are more or less indistinguishable
from d***s. Just as d***s want to f*** everyone, a**holes want to s*** on everyone. So what
differentiates f***ing from s****ing? Is f***ing a slightly more benevolent form of s****ing?
Is it if they’re the aforementioned axis of evil they s***? And, as the film previously
suggested, aren’t the d***s just spawning more a**holes? What if their incessant f***ing
just creates ISIS, which was formed by a guy who became powerful only after Colin Powell
said he was a prime target of the US. Will any level of f***ing spawn more a-holes, or
just f***ing too hard? So on foreign policy, the movie points to
some real criticisms, properly dunking on everyone. But it doesn’t offer a clear solution
so much as it suggests we’re all idiots. So kinda deep. But let’s get to the other criticism, celebrities: Aside from US interventionism, Team America’s
second satirical target is the people who protested it. Specifically, actors. Celebrities
like Sean Penn and Jeanine Garofalo regularly appeared on cable news to debate the merits
of the war. In an interview with 60 minutes, Parker and Stone complained that the opinions
of famous people crowded out the opinions of actual experts on network news. “When Sean
Penn is on TV, on CNN during the- before the Iraq war, talkign about the nuclear non-proliferation
treaty – super funny- that is, that is pure comedy gold.” The question is: what about
acting makes someone uniquely qualified to, as Sean Penn did, comment on the Treaty on
the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons? Or why did Jeanine Garafalo get to appear
on Fox News, only to recycle an argument she read in a newspaper “As actors, it is our
responsibility to read the newspapers and share everything on television like it’s out
own opinion.” This critique is all over the film, both overtly
and more subtly. The Film Actors Guild thinks they know how
to achieve world peace, even their deliberations visually evoke the United Nations. Gary’s
unique qualifications for Team America rely on a fantasy in which acting is some superpower
in the war on terror “like it or not, you’re the one with the power to do something.”
The cutting edge technology that allows him to infiltrate the terrorist organization is
none other than bad plastic surgery – a specialty among Hollywood’s elite. Ok, so on a basic level, it’s an apt jab
at major news networks who put celebrities on TV to comment on serious matters for no
other reason than they’re famous. As Stone told the New York Times, “An actor convinces
himself he’s doing something important to the world… You’re an actor; all you do is
read lines.” Also embedded into their characterization
of celebrities is an air of what I’ll call, smelling your own farts. Perhaps nobody embodies
the spirit of deeply inhaling one’s fecal-tinged expulsions than Sean Penn “I look back and
I didn’t work hard enough to keep this ad..as one individual, to keep this administration
from taking power.” His argument is that his status enables him to spread important information
that people would otherwise ignore. Which might be true. But this is also from the guy
that allegedly hired a photographer to follow him around while he saved people in Haiti.
And whether you agree or disagree with him, he often echoes points made by more qualified
experts. For some actors it seemed their prominence
made them qualified to reshape the world in their image – a sentiment the film takes to
task. Puppet Penn brags about how he had visited Iraq and only saw flowery meadows and gumdrop
smiles, “Last year I went to Iraq. Before team America showed up, it was a happy place!
They had flowery meadows and rainbow skies and- and rivers made of chocolate where the
children danced and laughed and played with gumdrop smiles. ” a joke rooted in the fact
that the real Penn did, prior to the invasion, travel to Iraq. He commented on how kind the
people he met there were “the iraqi people are- ya know, as warm as people get. But the
flowery meadows line is a bit of a mischaracterization of his real opinions: Penn was also quick
to call Saddam Hussein a monster and talk about the horrible conditions the citizens
of Iraq were living in due to international sanctions. So the idea that people like Penn
were p*****s who were unable or unwilling to admit how s****y the situation in Iraq
was seems a little offbase. There MIGHT be a deeper philosophy here, one
argued by our favorite Dan Harmon look alike Slavoj Zizek. Zizek criticizes the left for
predicating their support for people like refugees on their alleged angelic nature;
that we should welcome them because they are all perfect, wholesome humans. But for Zizek,
going through the kind of horrific tragedies that cause people to seek asylum does NOT
make them morally elevated. They’re just as flawed as everybody else. It’s not that
he thinks we shouldn’t welcome them, but that one’s access to basic human rights
shouldn’t be predicated on being the perfect victim. Now, MAYBE Stone and Parker were trying
to suggest that Hollywood liberals, similarly, see figures like Kim Jung Il or Saddam Hussein
as victims of US aggression, and thus, are morally elevated. But for the most part, nobody
was really defending these people, even Garafolo thought that Hussein should be disarmed in
that Fox News interview. So, maybe not the most apt criticism. But what about celebrities dominating news
coverage: a point I’m hugely sympathetic to. Now, if the message is celebrities shouldn’t
have opinions, it’s probably not a sentiment most people agree with. As divisive as this
issue could seem, most Americans would agree with Blitzchung’s right to voice his support
of the Hong Kong protests. And many will also agree Lebron James is within his rights to
seem like a complete idiot on the same topic. “So many people, uh could have been harmed.
Uh, not only financially but physically, emothionally, spiritually.” In other words, a celebrity’s
opinion should be judged on the merit of that opinion, not who it’s coming from. And more to the point – does this also mean
that Stone and Parker, themselves famous for making a cartoon about potty-mouthed kids,
aren’t entitled to an opinion? This becomes especially awkward when you consider that
a large swath of South Park episodes are thinly veiled metaphors for their opinions. They
even inadvertently created a movement called “South Park Republicans.” Then again,
they’re not showing up on News networks to spout their opinions. If they want to ask
“What do celebrities know about foreign policy?,” we can certainly ask that of them
and their DAP philosophy, but we won’t, because we’d rather take the argument on
its face. But they’re not entirely wrong either, because cable news is trash. It’s no secret that networks like CNN and
Fox would rather put up a spectacle with a good heel than report anything objectively.
But if the argument is Fox and CNN have more credible experts like political scientists
and journalists, that argument also has its shortcomings. Cable news has become a breeding
ground for “political insiders” and other alleged-experts who, in academic parlance,
are full of s***. But even in context of the Iraq war, there was a huge failure of media
organizations and their experts to properly vet the administration’s motives for going
to war. So if Parker and Stone just wanted to see what the real experts had to say, those
experts wouldn’t have saved them. At least, not the smooth-talking ones who would be selected
by cable news in the first place. And then there’s the unfortunate fact that
people just care more about what celebrities say, even if we shouldn’t. So yes, you can
go to polisciprofessor.blogsplot.com – but you won’t. So, where do we land? On the topic of American
foreign policy – the film is kind of deep, but not overly and infallibly deep, because
some things just don’t add up. And while the celebrity schtick tugs at my heart strings,
I have to give it a kind of shrug. Funny sure. Deep? Not quite, but not dumb either. So Team America gets a Wisecrack-certified
kinda deep but funny as hell. Thanks for watching, don’t forget to subscribe and catch y’all
next time. Peace.

Posts created 28505

100 thoughts on “TEAM AMERICA: WORLD POLICE: Is It Deep or Dumb? – Wisecrack Edition

  1. it was very poignant considering the times. they should definately make a second one based around the trump administration and pointless celebrities ha ha!

  2. The difference between dick and asshole is being fucked too hard is still way better then being covered in shit. Just compare the living conditions and personal freedoms in USA and NK. No matter what "sunshine and rainbows" crowd thinks, whole history of bad decisions presidents in democratic countries made are nothing compared to stuff countries like North Korea do to their own citizens every single day.

  3. what a shallow and stupid message. glad you delve into realism – fucking is just the privilege of assholes who become powerful enough to be dicks.

  4. "some of the buildings are just Chinese takeout boxes"… That's the fucking genius of Parker and Stone right there.

  5. First off, ‘Upstart’? Really? What idiot named that company? Do they know what upstart means? The name a,one guarantees I would never consider using their vulture service.

    Second – it’s a movie. Parker and a Stone pay the shit out of everything all the time. If you’re trying to find a meaningful life philosophy in the movie created for entertainment purposes, you’re doing it wrong. 🤦🏻‍♀️

  6. I want to mention that when it's showing the Iranian shah, they are showing Fazlollah Zahedi, who was the general who helped stage the coup.

  7. Really recommending a loan company and providing a review about how they really care about the customer. you fucking stupid. they care about making money nothing else so your iver stupid or think everyone watching is
    pick better sponsors

  8. All non-americans think that it's obvious that the us went into whatever country they felt like for their natural resources.

  9. By their own definition of assholes shitting over everything, i.e all sides, it's a subtle admission that Stone and Parker are assholes. And they'd be the first ones to tell you.
    It's like the person or kid that roasts everyone in the room…

  10. I just got done watching this movie. It's very funny (even if it does get gross like that cockroach scene). Although the puppets and puppetry in that movie hasn't really aged well.

  11. Your videos give me soooo so much to think about and research. Thank you for making these and thank you for the wonderful bibliography.

  12. the audio is really off on this, the snippets from the movie are very soft relative to Jared. Also the censoring makes those parts unwatchable…

  13. Wait. We created the ISIS leader by saying we were going after the terrorist leader? He was already a terrorist leader.

  14. "American foreign policy since the Bush era." Uh huh, sure. Go ahead and go back several few decades there, sport. And it kept on going after Bush.

  15. The movie critique of the famous people trying to present anti-war POV was off point, there were experts of course, but MSM/NYT/WaPo would not have them on, a complete blacklisting, only actors were famous enough cut through the gatekeepers despite facing deaththreats and blacklisting. Maybe they forgot how jingoistic and crazed the US was, how one-sided the media was being.

  16. would it be safe to say that the funny parts of the movie that don't add up to anything meaningful are just the typical thing done by the creators and not ment to be taken as a serious idea and the "deep" ideas are more what they are trying to say?

  17. Now the left is defending Iran's leaders just because of their hatred for Trump and Republicans. How crazy is that? A regime that locks up and murders women for DRIVING.

  18. 1. Its almost like it was understood that this was a comedy poking at several issues in a silly way until halfway through when it was taken as a serious statement that misjudges sean penn in a specific interview.

    2. Matt and Trey are not actors. They are writers making fun of actors and celebrities. So trying to find them hypocrites for having opinions in their work doesnt land. Also, social commentary doesnt need to include solutions to societal and cultural ills. They write comedies.

  19. Ricky Gervais put it better, these millionaire actors and actresses talking about social injustice while working for companies like Disney and Amazon that have sweat shops, it's kind of hypocrite

  20. So celebrities make a political movie about how celebrity opinions shouldn't hold so much weight in political matters, on a topic they say that they themselves they don't have a firm conclusion on? Ok.
    They do what they do best and poke fun at all the things, though they fall prey to the very point they are making at the same time. A little research goes a long way but like the celebrities they are criticising they have failed to do theirs as well, if not even more so. None of USA's wars are about freedom or justice or any such high and lofty ideals, they are all 100% pure economic wars after the one resource, oil. Even back then that was well known. There are plenty of dictators the world over but they are all nice and safe from USA unless they happen to have oil deposits on their land.

  21. The host in the video needs to demand a refund from his barber. Who gave him that horrible hairstyle. Looks like Shaggy and He-Man had a baby.

  22. If you think simple. Understand the shit we are being sold is important is meaningless when we died.
    Be kind to others

  23. The whole point of the war in the Middle East is to destabilize the region to provide a constant state of war/second Cold War. This was done with the full intent to destroy nations by bobbing them or supporting the drug trade. Ie there’s a reason why Afghanistan went from having the production of poppies by almost completely eliminated to being the supplier of 90% of the worlds heroin base component. Same thing happened with Vietnam. The idea is to constantly disrupt separate areas of the world to keep power within a specific group of people which is not nation-specific. Isn’t America trying to stay on top it’s the trilateral commission and others like it. They don’t give a fuck about a specific country or it’s people.

  24. The left/Hollywood at the time was outraged by this movie and still to this day try to passively aggressively say its problematic.
    So more of the same I suppose.

  25. There was nothing clever or enlightening about Team America. They crap on liberals in hopes of seeming fair and balanced. The reality of the situation is that modern, neo-liberlaism US policy has, at a minimum, failed everywhere it has been tried; period, end of story.

  26. Ugh…Remember when things constantly got censored on tv by people who thought they knew best what our sensitive eyes and ears could handle? Wasn't that just the worst?

    "But think of the children!"
    How about, be fucking honest and genuine about these things or just stop!
    This is a video about a movie that involves various topics that society generally ALSO thinks a child cannot handle. So if we were to be less of a fucking hypocrite about it, this kind of video would be considered "for adults" and therefore would not need to be censored!

    "But it's youtube! We need to protect our interests!"
    And you do that by meekly complying with your captor's demands like a good little slave?
    So instead of seeking freedom, you'd rather "be good" and get a little extra stale bread for dinner?

    How about…NOT showing clips of people saying; Dicks, Tits, Fuck, Shit, etc.
    How about NOT putting those words in your script? In fact, how about you don't even try to hide the word with some kind of colorful made-up word. How about you just call dicks and assholes; "Bad people" or "Unkind people".

    Stop fucking pretending that these kinds of videos are for people who's eyes and ears will bleed lest you censor your content. It's fucking pathetic!
    And if there is not a nod in this video to the censoring being a part of the joke, this message also applies to Wisecrack.

    When it comes to the whole "Political landscape", it's pretty much all irrelevant.
    Humanity wants to believe that "responsibility" is something that exists, but at the same time, humanity has no clue what to do with it.
    How about we don't have dicks and pussies, and just be PROPER human beings and NOT create issues for ourselves? The problem, is us. No matter what "issue" (Symptom) you look at, it always boils down to human beings creating issues. All other forms of issues we face are graciously given to us by the world we live in. You'd think we'd be happy with just dealing with natural disasters, famine, disease, etc. But I guess we're much too bored in our daily lives with internet, video games and the various fabricated responsibilities we have within society. Surely it makes complete sense that we continue to create issues for ourselves, while ignoring the fact that it ourselves that is the source of these issues, while complaining about said issues and lamenting the fact that the world is not a better place.

    Absolutely, ridiculous.
    We are living the greatest comedy and we don't even realize it.

  27. It´s not that america was taking upon themselves the privilege of being the world police and stopping dictators with low human rights standards. It´s america who has been imposing dictatorships with despise for human rights all around south america since the 70s. Google Salvador Allende.

    The ignorance about recent history among americans is widespread even among college educated people and content creators.

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