26 Ways Team America Isn't a Patriotic Movie, It's the Most Patriotic Movie
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26 Ways Team America Isn’t a Patriotic Movie, It’s the Most Patriotic Movie

By Rob Payne | Seriously Random Lists | July 5, 2013 | Comments ()


As a nation basks in the afterglow of a day full of food, sun, alcohol, sugar, fireworks, more food and more alcohol, now is the time to really take stock of what American Independence really means. Not to you or I as individuals, but to the United States as a whole. Essentially we gave ourselves the right to do or say anything we please, as long as it doesn't hurt anyone else, and if it does that we have a reason for it -- any reason at all that can be justified within our overly complex legal system. It's pretty great.

Our pop culture has always tried to celebrate and showcase our unique brand of "freedom," and even when our artists are actively criticizing governmental policies and corporate greed, the fact that that is even possible is kind of the whole point. The artists who seem to deeply understand this mutually beneficial dichotomy, as crazy as it would have sounded two decades ago, are the creators of a filthy and controversial cartoon. Trey Parker and Matt Stone have long skewered everything about this mostly tolerable country, from Jesus Christ being an actual televangelist to our collective insanity after 9/11, but Team America: World Police is where they really let their cynically patriotic flag fly.

If you need a refresher, here's the trailer:

The movie was cathartic in 2004 and, unsurprisingly, it's just as resonant today. In fact, Team America is Probably the Best Patriotic, but Not Jingoistic, Movie Ever Made. Here are 26 reasons why:

The "World Police" of the title is Teddy Roosevelt times a hundred.

All the regions of the continental U.S. are ticked off by the Team's origins -- Gary is from the East Coast (Broadway), Sarah is from the West Coast (Berkeley), Joe is from the West (Nebraska U), Chris is from the Midwest (Detroit), and Lisa is presumably from the South (Big Hair=Texas?).
The fact that they're all white is more a comment on Hollywood action movies, I think.

We're notoriously bad at geography!
Which is illustrated perfectly by the movie's opening "Paris" with landmarks like the Eiffel Tower and the Arch de Triumph being much too close together, and later when "Cairo" is in the middle of the Egyptian desert along with the Great Pyramid.

But, really,that's mostly because we also don't care!

And, hey, we're woeful about our own geography, too!
As illustrated in the moment when Gary and Spottswoode get from the Statue of Liberty (in New York) to Mount Rushmore (in South Dakato) in a matter of moments.

But, really, we also don't care about our landmarks, either!

Except, of course, when we use our REAL U.S. landmarks, and not cardboard stand-ins.

How can a date (even September 11th) be multiplied by anything? Clearly, math is also a national sore spot.

Speaking sore sports, for Generation Xers (and early Gen Yers), which Parker and Stone are a part, AIDS was their greatest fear growing into maturity. Sound familiar?

Our general concept of the "Intelligence Community" is accurately represented with the team's supercomputer I.N.T.E.L.L.I.G.E.N.C.E. (even after the NSA).

They also distilled our conception of the "costs" of freedom (taxes, public service, etc.). It costs a buck-oh-five... right?

Early in the story, with a single line describing Gary Johnston, actor-turned-spy, as a "Maverick Renegade," the movie predicted John McCain and Sarah Palin four years early.

No story of American Exceptionalism would be complete without abundant racism!

Not to worry, our history of race-bending and blackface-type mimicry are on fully display, too. When our white hero is turned into Arab Terrorist (distinct from "an arab terrorist").

Our view of non-allied foreign leaders, especially those we declare to be in an "axis of evil," as essentially Bond villains (and Eric Cartman?) is well represented.

Of course, if the movie's depiction of Hans Blix is any indication, then our perception of the United Nations isn't much better.
(Click here for an unembeddable clip.)

And how do see ourselves?

After all, isn't the American Dream to own a fleet of flying, weaponized vehicles?

But it isn't just our high national self-esteem that gets punctured, our biggest import -- Hollywood -- also gets deservingly needled. The montage is merely the beginning...

There's also obligatory and gratuitous sex and nudity...

And pointless gross out comedy!

We're also a people that (ashamedly) love to (deservedly) hate Michael Bay movies.

As well as celebrities who share their political opinions, usually liberal to obnoxiously liberal, that nobody asked for.

But, hey, comparatively conservative leaders sexual;y harass their subordinates all the time, so there's definitely a balance.

Which just shows that Parker and Stone really do have the best Understanding of U.S. American politics and culture ever, and is something they've been exploring since "South Park" proved we were a little bit country and a little bit rock 'n' roll.

But, seriously, the movie celebrates our absolute worst qualities on an international or humane level, which puts Team America on the same plane as great patriotic works like Common Sense or The Gilded Age. From Thomas Paine to Mark Twain to Michael Moore to Sarah Palin, this is what we do.

Rob Payne also writes the comic The Unstoppable Force, tweets on the Twitter, tumbls on the Tumblr, and his wares can be purchased here. He considers this fan-made trailer for Captain America: The First Avenger to be the second most patriotic movie.

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Comments Are Welcome, Bigots and Trolls Are Not

  • DNM

    Yeah, well, that's Matt and Trey for you: tasteful, subtle criticism of conservative, racist or jingoistic attitudes and openly hateful bashing of anything even remotely perceived as liberal. Although, to be fair, South Park tends to be a little more balanced in that aspect, so at least there's that.

  • linnyloo

    That marionette fight where they set it up like it'll be martial arts and then they just loosely bang into one another repeatedly still makes me howl. Seriously. I adore the shit out of this movie.

  • VohaulsRevenge

    Historical factoid: The "President Roosevelt as cop" metaphor would've cut sharper with his contemporaries, since he in fact had been a police commissioner before his entry into politics.

  • Green Lantern

    Fuck yeah.

  • Sofia

    Team America is one of the funniest movies I've ever seen. The dicks/pussies/assholes speech is brilliant.

  • Gauephat

    Starship Troopers is still the best post-9/11 movie, in my opinion. It hits all the same marks as Team America, but does so that much more effectively because of how much more subversive it is. Team America threw crap at easy targets, and did it well, but Starship Troopers is a much more (satirically) sincere adoption of the "USA! USA!" mindset.

    Of course, the fact that it pre-dated 9/11 makes it even better.

  • IngridToday

    Starship Troopers also had Neil Patrick Harris wearing an SS-esque outfit (one of the themes of the movie is impressive governments) and he's also able to telepathically communicate with ferrets.
    It's wonderful.

  • DehydrationStation

    Rifftrax will be riffing 'Starship Troopers' LIVE on Thursday, August 15th, perhaps at a theatre near you.


  • Handup7up

    I had a former co-worker who would quote the movie, particularly Kim Jun-Il parts... then he started applying the accent to all Asian people. The High (low?) point was when he saw a picture of the kid who did the voice in "UP" and said "he looks really Asian!" he then clarified he couldn't "hear it (his race) in his voice". After someone pointed out that the kid was American and were therefore have an America accent. My former co-worker yelled he wasn't a racist and walked away. Surprisingly having to yell "I'm not a a racist" did not make him stop mocking Asian people. Sometimes he used Team America to defend himself.

    It made me like "Team America" a little less because of that guy. Someone people don't get satire.

  • Bea Pants

    Funny how racists can turn humor that makes fun of racial stereotypes and racist behavior into racist humor. I read Sarah Silverman's autobiography and she ran into a famous rocker who told her she told the best n****r jokes. :/

  • Bea Pants

    True Fact: Pearl Harbor Sucks gets me legitimately teary eyed. Lemme 'splain:

    I took my dad to see Pearl Harbor in 2001 because my dad liked WWII stuff and I wasn't much on the internet back then so I had no idea what a steaming pile of crap it was. So we both get good hate on for two hours and walk out giggling at the people in front of us who seem to be drying their eyes as they leave the theater. Fun times.

    Fast forward to late 2004. I go to see Team America about a month after my dad has passed away because I need the laughs. Pearl Harbor Sucks kicks in and I have a good laugh for the first couple of lines before it hits me that I can't call my dad and share with him how hilarious this song is (because he would have LOVED it, y'all) and before I know it I'm crying like a baby in the middles of Team America.

    Sorry to drag to comment thread down but that is really the strongest memory I have for this movie...

    Well that and kinky puppet sex.

  • Gunnut2600

    Beautiful story and thanks for sharing. As a navy vet and a history buff, I fully expected the film to be bad.

    Dear lord it was amazingly worse. I think people forget just how insanely bad it is, just from a historical perspective. They got EVERYTHING wrong. For those that survived, especially the ones in which the film totally butchered their actions, it was a slap in the face.

    The late, but still great, Roger Ebert said it best in the opening line of his review...

    ""Pearl Harbor" is a two-hour movie squeezed into three hours, about how on Dec. 7, 1941, the Japanese staged a surprise attack on an American love triangle."

  • DehydrationStation

    I've noticed that 'America! Fuck Yeah!' has become the new 'Born in the U.S.A.' for Americans that don't understand satire.

  • David West

    I don't think anyone substituting this for "Born in the USA" is unaware that it's satire. It's self-aware, catchy, funny, and mocks our excesses and ethnocentrism. It really is the perfect anthem.

  • Guest

    Or maybe they do and you don't? It's a catchy as hell tune, funny, self-deprecating, self-aware. It's a perfect anthem that celebrates America without being too serious.

  • PerpetualIntern


  • I had an ex-roomate's girlfriend once tell me that I was an idiot for liking that movie as much as I do because 'you do realize they're making fun of you, don't you?' I had realized that, but they're also making fun of everyone else...and unlike Sean Penn, I can take a joke.

  • Bacchic_frenzy


  • Bert_McGurt

    "After all, isn’t the American Dream to own a fleet of flying, weaponized vehicles?"

    Close, but not quite Rob. The real American Dream is to own a fleet of flying, weaponized vehicles AND to use a badass cave as the hangar*!

    *Note: if you're thinking "Doesn't that basically mean the American Dream is, in essence, Batman?" then go have a celebratory Cookie of Correctness. I'm quite certain there must be some giant ones left over from yesterday.

  • BWeaves

    I hated Team America. I don't like South Park, either. The funny thing is, given my sick sense of humor, I should like them. I tried to like them. It's the sort of thing I normally do like, but I just don't.

  • $27019454

    Do you have any particular beef with it? Does it push persoanl envelopes? I'm curious and hope you'll indulge me. I ask because I usually love all things off-color crude (I love SP), but I have envelopes that get pushed (Catholic church jokes), and I wonder why you can't like SP.

  • BWeaves

    I don't have a beef with them. They doesn't push personal envelopes. I squeal with laughter when watching Archer, and that's a pretty crude and politically incorrect cartoon.

    Team America and South Park simply do NOT make me laugh.

    It's sort of like when I watch Woody Allen movies. I say, "Oh that was a joke." I get the joke, but it didn't make me laugh.

  • ,

    I feel that way about "30 Rock." It seems more clever than funny, so I'll think, oh, that was a clever line, I get it. But I don't think I've ever laughed, and I've tried.

  • $27019454

    YES. ^^ THIS.

  • $27019454

    Thanks. I can appreciate that. It's fascinating, what makes each of us laugh or cringe, isn't it? There's a lot of humor that's lost on me just as Allen is lost on you.

  • NynjaSquirrel

    Surely the Catholic Church is more than a big enough target for both criticism and humour? It's one of the most closeted, restrictive and hypocritical organisations on the planet?

  • Sara_Tonin00

    That is true. But when you are inside the organization - or know people who are, and you know them to be good individuals and working towards the best parts of the Church's mission, the jokes can either sting or just be tiresome.

    I don't regularly watch South Park any more - I don't regularly watch a lot of tv - but I still find the creators and their movies to be pretty brilliant. And having a jokes that rub me the wrong way is beneficial in a way - reminds me that there are others feeling the same about some of their other targets.

  • $27019454

    Nice way of summarizing how those jokes sting. I appreciate that. Thanks.

  • $27019454

    I have no comment on that except to clarify that it is just my personal thing that I have a hard time with Catholic Church jokes/criticisms. That's all.

  • ,

    I always flip right past "South Park" because I can't understand a word the kids are saying. I have hearing issues and certain voice ranges are difficult for me to understand*, and using the closed captioning sort of defeats the purpose.

    *--In "SP"'s case, all of them.

  • ,

    The fact that they’re all white is more a comment on Hollywood action movies, I think.
    The babe on the right kinda looks Asian. Or do white people get to count yellow people on their team now, in the great color scheme of things?*

    *--I often see bigotry toward Hispanic people described as "racism," so I guess maybe the whites now lump the Hispanics in with Team Black. Do I have all this right? Life in 2013 can be so confusing.

  • Harriet J. Hernandez

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  • Sara_Tonin00

    Yeah, I always thought Lisa was Asian in the movie.

  • BWeaves

    That's pretty much what I was about to say.

  • $27019454

    My husband (Peruvian and quite, uh, swarthy) was born here in the good ol US of A. His birth certificate (which he carries with him 24/7 for reasons) lists him as "white."

    Oddly, my children's birth certificates list them as "Hispanic." (I am as white as Todd Rundgren. And that's pretty fuckin white.)

  • Alberto Cox Délano

    That's the typical U.S. obsession with race, I still wonder, up there, would I be regarded as white or hispanic?

    Apparently, we Latin Americans threw all their notions of colour and race overboard, what with our careless affition to mixing between races (OK, relatively, still a lot of racism going around, but we all have some indigenous blood running through our veins, which is so cool) What is that supposed to mean in the end? Is Hispanic not white enough for society? Cause, if you go back to the root of the word itself, not all people in Spain are dashin morenas like Penelope, there are also very germanic blondes. Because of visigothic settlings. But then there is a lot of Arabic blood in Spain, which is also in the genes of Latin American people.

    What am saying is, 'race' is such a fucking useless term

  • FireLizardQueen

    I'm actually both Latin American AND white (by American standards). This fact confuses both white people and Latino people. I clarify and say I'm jokingly say not "culturally" white.

  • ,

    "white as Todd Rundgren"

    That made me laugh. An upvote for you!

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    Starship Troopers is still the best post-9/11 movie, in my opinion.
    It hits all the same marks as Team America, but does so that much more
    effectively because of how much more subversive it is. Team America
    threw crap at easy targets, and did it well, but Starship Troopers is a
    much more (satirically) sincere adoption of the "USA! USA!" mindset.

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