by Lewis Manalo
As the disappointing reviews for Stephen Sommer’s GI Joe come rolling in and your friends tell you to wait to see the film when it’s free on network TV, the US celebrates its real life anti-terrorists’ drone bombing an Al-Qaeda terrorist on foreign soil. Hailed as a victory for the Obama administration, there are any number of political takes we could use on this one, but the assassination of Baitullah Mehsud via drone has more interesting implications into the mechanics of vision and how war has evolved the way we see and what we use our vision for – especially when compared to the ninja fights and Sigma suits of the latest incarnation of American childhood indoctrination that we call GI Joe.
War and cinema have been interlinked since the conception of film. The mechanics of the first film cameras were designed after the workings of our beloved gatling gun. The violence of the look evolved along the parallel lines of the weapon and the camera until we reach the MQ-9 Reaper and Erin Andrews nude on the internet. It’s hard to imagine how much more the mechanics of vision could evolve. Militarily, if we can see someone, we can kill him. Online, our voyeuristic vision does real harm (usually to women, it seems). (Of course, the best defense against vision is disguise and deception, but that doesn’t make vision less dangerous.)
So if and when you bother to see the bumbling Sigma suits and battling ninjas of GI Joe, just remember, you are more dangerous than Snake-Eyes. Our mute homeboy can duel with a sword, but your looks can literally kill. Despite how futuristic the movie tries to get with all of its advanced tech, GI Joe is 100% nostalgia, yearning for a time when you chased down a badguy, when you duked it out face to face, man to man. You don’t need that muscle anymore. You don’t need that ninja skill set, either. In the future that’s now, the work of war is done in the air conditioned facitilites where you pilot a robot plane. Don’t get me wrong, you need those boots on the ground to occupy the space (a fundamental rule of war) but more and more the bulk of the killing will get done via joystick.