To envious movie and TV stars, singers, and others, any mention in MAD magazine is considered to be a “badge of success;” a sort of public “flaying” to be celebrated, not avoided. It’s like being lambasted by the legendary insult comic Don Rickles; you may wince while it’s happening, but you can’t wait to tell all your friends about it afterwards.
The unique publication, first launched as a comic book in 1952, quickly evolved into a satirical humor magazine, famous for its hilariously irreverent “send ups” about anybody and anything going on in pop culture. It was only a matter of time before it would dissect GIjOE and later, GIjANE.
“G.I. Joes” as soldiers (not the toys) were first accorded MAD’s acerbic attentions by appearing in a story entitled, “G.I. Shmoe!” (issue #10, 1954). The Korean War had just ended, and the magazine’s publishers felt it was time for some wacky military humor. G.I. Shmoe would poke fun at military service personnel, and was written and illustrated by one of the most prolific MAD artists, Wally Wood. In the piece, Wood depicts lusty American soldiers chasing after every curvaceous woman they can find. Read the entire silly story HERE.
Ten years later, Hasbro’s iconic “G.I. Joe” action figure would make its debut at the 1964 Toy Fair in New York City. Over the next few years, as sales and renown of the toy grew exponentially, the creative minds over at MAD began to take notice of the phenomenon and decided the time was ripe for another sort of “G.I. Joe” parody.
This time, they went with a photos-n-text style layout, resulting in an article entitled, “A MAD Look at Realistic Dolls” (MAD issue #127, June, 1969). This article is three pages of typically silly MAD jokes, poking fun at not just GIjOE, but also at Barbie and Ken as well. It’s full of the usual clichéd stereotypes, such as Ken waiting at the airport before draft-dodging his way up to Canada.
But to see how things have really changed over the years, take a closer look at some of the writing in this article. Nowadays, you probably couldn’t get away using pejoratives such as “Japs,” “Limeys” or “Frogs,” much less refer to a black Barbie as “Afro” the “token” doll. Of course, MAD’s humor has always been bluntly juvenile, often using terms not considered “politically correct” or in common parlance.
Here are the three pages of MAD’s “Realistic Dolls” article:
It was only a matter of time before GIjANE would receive her much delayed, “equal treatment,” and with the release of Ridley Scott’s G.I. Jane in 1997, work on a new movie satire was quickly underway. The resulting comic article was a typical MAD farce dubbed, “G.I. Shame,” appearing in issue #365, June, 1998.
The film starred Demi Moore and a young Viggo Mortensen, who, as we stated earlier, instantly realized that being parodied within the pages of MAD was no small accomplishment. Mortensen stated…
“The other day I came across a MAD Magazine. For the first time I felt like I had arrived when I saw a GI Jane parody of me called ‘GI Shame.’ [Laughs] My favorite part was the idea that the candidates were dropping out of the SEALs not from the physical abuse but from my awful poetry readings.” – Viggo Mortensen 1998
What MAD will do to comically skewer our 12″ hero in the future remains to be seen. MAD has very few “sacred cows” which it considers to be off-limits to its lampooning and ridicule. Most recently, the magazine turned to current events, using the military’s changing stance on homosexuality to create a unique “fantasy” GIjOE ad which appeared in MAD issue #321. The result (shown below) speaks for itself…