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Monday, July 19, 2004
Attack of the Republican puppets!
Question: What is Team America: World Police?
Answer: A new movie directed by Trey Parker and Matt Stone starring an all marionette cast.
All. Marionette. Cast.
Pundits, wonks and the like have all been wondering when conservatives will dish out a cinematic response to Fahrenheit 9/11. Thus far, Michael Moore Hates America has been getting all the press. It looks like the prime candidate to open a can of warhawk whoop-ass on American liberals... while earning its makers a ton of cash at the box office. But is Team America better suited to become the Great White Hope for Bush-worshiping cinemaphiles?
Parker and Stone have made no bones about their right-wing leanings. In recent years, their hit show South Park has advocated the Iraqi war, anti-gay polices in the Boy Scouts, and the banning of steam cell research. From afar, Team America looks like a goofy, empty-headed parody of old '60s children's programs like Thunderbirds.
A columnist from Ain't It Cool News recently visited the set of the film and came away with a different impression. His story, posted last week, suggests that the film will become the Parker/Stone's most conservative work yet.
The premise follows a group of superhero crime fighters stationed in Mount Rushmore as they fight terrorists and liberal Hollywood celebrities. When the film's main antagonist, Kim Jong II, attempts to sell weapons of mass destruction to a terrorist group, Team America swoops into action only to be daunted by Tinsel Town organization run by marionette versions of Alec Baldwin, Susan Sarandon, Sean Penn, and a permanently mustard-stained Michael Moore. As Parker explained to AICN, "They’re not bad. They’re just really, really stupid and misguided."
Team America won't be a musical but will include a few original numbers. One decidedly un-PC tune, sung by Kim Jong, is titled "I'm 'Ronery." The theme for the team is an Aerosmith-style power ballad called "Team America! Fuck Yeah!" The song will play during a graphic puppet sex scene.
Puppet sex? Cheesy Asian stereotypes? Despite this, Stone explained the film will play it mostly straight. "We figured out pretty quickly that the more straight you play it, the funnier everything gets," Stone said. "Watching puppets discuss life and death issues is just funny. Period."
Team America has already caused a brief upheaval on the Paramount set. During a screening of a rough cut, an executive screamed, "Oh god, they fucked us" during the first few minutes. The opening shot, of an obviously fake Eiffel Tower and a pair of crude puppets, led him to believe that duo had delivered an un-releasable film. But it's a gag. The camera pans out from a street artist's puppet show to an elaborate miniature set of Paris about to be destroyed by a suitcase bomb.
The film is set to open on October 15th but could be delayed because of the duo's commitment to Comedy Central. The next season of South Park is set to debut on October 27th. If it does make the release date, could this crazy little puppet movie actually have any impact on the November election?
Considering the ongoing controversy surrounding F 9/11 and Time cover stories claiming it will definitely have an effect, why is it so hard to surmise Team America couldn't do the same? Subversive comedies as far back as Charlie Chaplin's The Great Dictator have worked as propaganda. As strange as it might sound, even Donald Duck cartoons were used to boost morale among troops in World War 2. South Park is insanely popular among the college crowd and DVD sets of the series have sold well into the millions. If the same crowd turns out in droves for Team America, why couldn't it be a factor?