Thursday, October 28, 2004

Is Team America: World Police right-wing or left-wing? Michael Atkinson of The Village Voice thinks everyone's misreading Matt Parker and Trey Stone’s puppet movie about fighting terrorism, which takes a lot of potshots at liberal Hollywood. Actually, according to Atkinson, it's really "a fairly consistent attack on Middle American slope-headedness, reproaching the millions of Bush voters for their love of balls-out martial power, their gut-level xenophobia, their suspicion that `durka durka!' is an accurate-as-far-as-it-matters facsimile of how Arabs speak, their instinctive hatred for outspoken liberal celebrities, and of course, their ardor for Jerry Bruckheimer movies."

That's only part of the story, though, really; it aims to be even-handed with its targets, to mock both overzealous militarism and feckless dissent, and does a pretty good job -- but between the dicks (hawks) and the pussies (doves), they’re heart is squarely with the dicks.

Not only does the attack on Hollywood liberalism bite down hard on the conventional targets – Sean Penn, Alec Baldwin and Janeane Garofalo aren’t just dupes Kim Jong Il, they’re on his side -- it seems to get downright personal where Michael Moore is concerned. Parker and Stone were both featured in Moore's Bowling for Columbine; they were his shining example of how high-school losers could actually put their misanthropy to good use. It's hard not to see their depiction of him as a suicide bomber as a way of putting (lasting?) distance between him and themselves, a way of saying "We're satirists first, there are no sacred cows, and we're not in your camp. We’re not your pals. Fuck you."

By the way, I thought it was a very funny movie – less because of its politics than because the idea of making an action movie with puppets is so stupid. That’s really where all the humor comes from: the impossibility of engaging these string-operated dolls in hand to hand combat, let alone sex.

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