I am thinking of doing a quick investigation into the depth of lyrics found in children TV shows from the 1980’s. The first is an all-time classic from my youth, G.I. Joe. I used to run around in my backyard with my siblings and neighbors, screaming “Yo Joe!” and chucking pine cones, pretending they were hand grenades (sticks would suffice as those laser guns they kept firing around (did you notice they were color coded on the show? Bad (bullets) was blue, good was red)).

Regardless, here are the lyrics of the theme song.

Yo Joe!
He’ll fight for freedom where ever there’s trouble.
GI Joe is there.

It’s GI Joe against Cobra and Destro
Fighting to save the day.
He never gives up.
He’s always there,
Fighting for freedom over land and air

GI Joe- A real American hero
GI Joe is there

GI Joe is the codename for American’s daring, highly trained
special mission force.
It’s purpose, to defend human freedom against Cobra-
a ruthless, terrorist organization determined to rule the world.

He never gives up.
He’ll stay til the fight’s won.
GI Joe will dare.

GI Joe- A real American hero
GI Joe

I love that they just come out and say it from the get go, Yo Joe! I mean, why hide behind any sort of metaphor or subtlety (those commie poets with their alliteration!)? Just come out and proclaim how good they are. I love the line about protecting human freedom from Cobra. So, G.I. Joe turns their back on the animal kingdom?

Enslave the animals
and fight for human freedom,

G.I. Joe is there!

As warned in a prior post, here is the Youtube video.


By Michael Gallagher

My name is Michael Sean Gallagher. I am a Lecturer in Digital Education at the Centre for Research in Digital Education at the University of Edinburgh. I am Co-Founder and Director of Panoply Digital, a consultancy dedicated to ICT and mobile for development (M4D); we have worked with USAID, GSMA, UN Habitat, Cambridge University and more on education and development projects. I was a researcher on the Near Futures Teaching project, a project that explores how teaching at The University of Edinburgh unfold over the coming decades, as technology, social trends, patterns of mobility, new methods and new media continue to shift what it means to be at university. Previously, I was the Research Associate on the NERC, ESRC, and AHRC Global Challenges Research Fund sponsored GCRF Research for Emergency Aftershock Forecasting (REAR) project. I was an Assistant Professor at Hankuk University of Foreign Studies (한국외국어대학교) in Seoul, Korea. I have also completed a doctorate at University College London (formerly the independent Institute of Education, University of London) on mobile learning in the humanities in Korea.

One thought on “Cartoon theme songs, a textual interpretation”
  1. ha ha! for girls, it was Jem and the Holograms!

    Jem is excitement
    Ooh, Jem
    Jem is adventure
    Glamour and glitter
    Fashion and fame

    Jem is truly outrageous
    Truly, truly, truly outrageous

    Whoa, Jem
    Jem, the music’s contagious
    Jem is my name, no one else is the same
    Jem is my name

    But we’re the Misfits, our songs are better
    We are the Misfits, the Misfits
    And we’re gonna get her

    Jem, the music’s contagious
    Jem is my name, no one else is the same
    Jem is my name


    I think just comparing the two provides enough material for a thesis on gender identity/expectations!

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