It's been about a year and a half now since Trey Parker and Matt Stone unleashed their puppet movie Team America into theaters a few weeks before Bush's re-election, while I was busy running for US Senate in Indiana. It was a modest hit at the time, as such things go. I'm not real sure what category of "such things" it would classify as, however. I liked it a lot, as per this contemporary review, but we were all a bit busy at the time, and it got filed away.
A couple of seasons later, Team America seems to me now like one of the top classic American patriotic movies ever. Parker and Stone are clearly representing for America, in fact defending the US to the world in a compelling and entertaining manner that is hard to deny.
The brilliance of Team America comes in the cheerful and detailed examination of our faults, an acknowledgement of our weaknesses that buys credibility for the whole defense. When Gary Johnston speaks on behalf of Parker and Stone for America, they're including themselves when they say that "we're reckless, arrogant dicks." They specifically acknowledge slavery. ("f&^* yeah!")
There's just no way you could mistake this for chauvinistic propaganda. Geez, we accidentally blew up the Louvre and the Eiffel Tower before the opening credits.
Think it through though, and you'll note that Team America is pretty much morally pure, straight and true. They may look foolish with silly personal soap opera talk right during battle — the variations on "I treasure your friendship" strike me funnier every viewing. But they are absolutely wearing the white hats.
Also, the dilemma for America is presented quite sympathetically. Gary Johnston doesn't WANT the power nor especially the responsibility. Yes, there are obviously comic layers, but the country song "Freedom Isn't Free" is essentially a sincere statement from the creators. Neither Gary nor the rest of the team crave authority or even acclaim.
Parker and Stone directly ridicule the common claims about America representing for rich corporations and oil companies and other such nonsense. These folks are here because the world badly needs someone to take care of the bad guys, and they're the ones in a position to do something about it — even if they sometimes botch the job.
The scene in Panama reminds us how much the whole world in fact depends on the US as world police, how badly they need the US to succeed. There's the US accidentally overstepping, and then there's the scene when Team America does NOT make the catch. All the cutesy jokes stopped for a minute with all the death and destruction in Panama. Those images of the puppets floating face down are pretty rough stuff for a frickin' puppet movie.
Note also that the film deals pretty seriously with ideas of loyalty and treachery. The Hollywood FAGs didn't just hate America, but literally took up arms against their country — and got killed, every single one for their treason. I'd think even Ann Coulter would be satisfied with Tim Robbins' fate. Most gratifying in the denouement of treason files is this resonant summary by Kim Jong Il of what happens to idiots when they're no longer useful.
In short, Team America makes a proud and compelling case for the US to the world. In years to come, this movie will be remembered as a better piece of public relations for the US to the world than anything Bush or other elected representatives came up with in this era.
Plus, watching this film is a good way for patriotic Americans to celebrate the 4th of July.
And you can take this closing image of the movie to heart: