The Hidden Meaning in Team America: World Police – Earthling Cinema
What if an alien in the future stumbled upon Trey Parker’s Team America? Welcome to Earthling Cinema, where we examine the last remaining artifacts of a once-proud culture and try to understand what human lives were like before their planet was destroyed. I’m your host, Garyx Wormuloid.
This week’s film:
This week’s film:
Team America: World Police (2004)
Stars: Trey Parker, Matt Stone, Kristen Miller, Masasa Moyo, Daran Norris
Director: Trey Parker
Production Co: Scott Rudin Productions, Braniff Productions
Written by: AJ Unitas and Kevin Winzer
Directed by: Jared Bauer
Analysis by: Kevin Winzer
Starring: Mark Schroeder (https://twitter.com/mark_schroeder)
Edited by: Ryan Hailey (http://www.ryanhaileydotcom.com/)
Original Music by: David Krystal (http://www.davidkrystalmusic.com)
Opening Animation by: Danny Rapaport
Produced by: Jacob S. Salamon and Emily Dunbar
Hidden Meaning in Team America: World Police – Earthling Cinema
Greetings, and welcome to Earthling Cinema. I am your host, Garyx Wormuloid. This week’s artifact is Team America: World Police, from South Park creators, Oliver Stone and Matt Parkour, who were famously exiled from Earth after literally pissing off everyone.
The film opens in France, where some kindly terrorists chaperone a beeping briefcase. That is, until the US Olympic Team choppers in. They win the interpretative dance round, but take home the silver in not dying. “Nooo!”
Over on Broadstreet, an actor named Gary sings about one of Earth’s best diseases, — “Everyone has AIDS!” — attracting the attention of Agent Coulson, I mean, Morpheus, I mean, a balding horny puppet. He takes him to Rushmore Academy, where he asks him to do the plot of 21 Jump Street, but with terrorists. Although, considering how teens were in those days, there wasn’t much of a difference.
In Koreatown, a nearsighted dictator has the terrorists over for kimchi, giving them some bombs as party favors. Gary gets his eyebrows done at the spa, so he can infiltrate the Cantina Bar. But soon, Team America shows up and sweeps the gold medal in destroying a native culture. America’s oldest pastime. The team gets drunk off friendship, and Lisa and Gary do the bippity, boppity, boo.
But Gary’s not the only one getting blown. Jack Donaghy fears the Olympics are stealing Liz Lemon’s ratings and partners with K-Town for a “peace ceremony,” where Kim secretly will detonate “bombs.” Oh, no. No air quotes on that one. Remembering that it’s the end of Act 2, Gary quits and gets mild food poisoning.
The fat guy Suicide Squads HQ, just as Kim blows the team’s cover and captures them. But their cover’s not the only thing getting blown. That’s a callback, just for you. Gary trains with Spotswood — Trainspotting if you will — and they go to K-Town to get the band back together. They kill most of the Film Actors Guild, and no intelligent life is lost.
With the stage empty, Gary attention whores it up and engages in the time-honored tradition of oratory. “The only thing that can f**k an assh*le is a dick.” Donaghy gets ousted from NBC, and Kim falls on an Alt-Right baseball cap, revealing his true form: a horse.
Team America: World Police can be viewed as a response to the surge of nationalism the U.S.A. experienced after 9/11, considered by many to be just never forgettable. The film is a satire, stylized after massive Hollywood Blockbusters and Netflixes, which commonly celebrated American power and per-severance. The film beats down cliché after cliché, like they owe it money. It mocks the emotional levers these films try to pull, just as it makes fun of the overly sentimental country ballads that make war seem great. “Freedom isn’t free. No, there’s a hefty f**kin’ fee.” “An’ there’s gonna be hell brought to you courtesy of the red, white, and blue.”
Beneath the big bangs and puppet bangs, lies a more subtle exploration of America’s role in the world. Some scholars support the hegemonic stability theory, which supposes that the world would be better off with a superpower calling the shots. Team America believes in “American Exceptionalism” the idea that the United States was better than all other seven countries, and therefore, duty-bound to shape the world to its obese standards. “Don’t you understand? Every country in the world is in danger!” “How is it my responsibility to do something?” “Because like it or not, you’re the one with the power to do something.”
The film pokes fun at this attitude by showing various ways that Americans are poorly suited to Boss Baby everyone around. When the film identifies a foreign location, it notes the distance from the U.S.A., exemplifying the tendency Americans had to look down on other countries, as well as, the metric system. Cities such as Paris and Tatooine are reduced to their most famous landmarks, which are portrayed incorrectly as being right next to each other, instead of on top of each other. Foreign languages are portrayed as gibberish, — “Muhammad, jihad. [gibberish] Muhammad, jihad.” — although, it’s all human to me.
This ignorance and lack of respect for other countries manifests as Team America demolishes world landmarks to make room for a Whole Foods. “Alright, team!” “Nothing to it!” Ironically, this self-centered attitude is similar to the terrorist psychology, according to smoking hot Lisa. “Usually a case in malignant narcissism brought on during childhood.” Damn, you’re tearing me apart, Lisa. The film asks whether this careless destructiveness in the name of American ideals is any better than the terrorist’s intentional attacks, cause it’s the thought that counts.
But the film is far from a one-sided hit piece on American Djingoism Unchained. It criticizes ignorance on the other side of the aisle, too. The actors, standing in for alcoholic grad students, or “liberals,” think they’re better than Team America. “The Film Actors Guild believes that what the world needs is compassion, not violence. All that Team America does is create new enemies.” But their position is based on the same blinding elitism as Team America’s, — “What the world needs is an international advisory committee, who truly understands global politics. Namely, us.” — and their ignorance causes them to bumble their way into the wrong side of a global crisis. “Hello.”
Ultimately, the film concludes that, despite the occasional terrorist attack, someone’s gotta deal with purely destructive entities, especially if those entities can sing. “So lonely…” In the end, the film endorses a more cautious “America, f**k yeah,” — “F**k yeah.” “F**k yeah.” — but an “America, f**k yeah” nonetheless. It was the state motto of Florida, after all, before it flooded, and the sharks ate everybody until they were dead.
For Earthling Cinema, I’m Garyx Wormuloid. God Bless America Ferrera.