Sir Patrick Stewart. G.I. Joe. Two entities that have never had much in the way of interaction… until now!
This past weekend Wait Wait… Don’t Tell Me!, NPR’s weekly news panel game show, featured an interview with the celebrated actor and former captain of the USS Enterprise. There were the usual Star Trek and theater questions and then host Peter Sagal invited Sir Patrick to play a game entitled “G.I. Joe – Fighting Man from Head to Toe” in which he challenged the actor to answer three questions about our favorite 50 year old toy line.
How did he do? Check out the transcript below:
SAGAL: I think it would have been hilarious. Well, obviously we could talk to you all day, but we can’t because we must move on to play our game with you. Sir Patrick Stewart, we have invited you here to play a game we’re calling…
BILL KURTIS, BYLINE: G.I. Joe, G.I. Joe, Fighting Man from Head to Toe.
SAGAL: That was the first jingle ever for G.I. Joe, first introduced by the Hasbro company 50 years ago this month. So in honor of that anniversary, we’re going to ask you three questions about the poseable action figure. Answer two correctly, you’ll win our prize for our listener, the poseable Carl Kasell on their voicemail. Bill, who is Sir Patrick Stewart playing for?
KURTIS: Dawn Schellenberg of Seattle, Washington.
SAGAL: All right. Are you ready, Sir Patrick?
STEWART: I am. I’m apprehensive but I’m ready.
SAGAL: Here we go. Now G.I. Joe – I’m sure you’ve been in the United States long enough to know what these are. These are these eight inch dolls that look like soldiers, G.I. Joes, yes?
STEWART: Yeah, yeah, I know what they are.
SAGAL: I’m sorry. I need to shrivel now for a bit.
STEWART: No I didn’t mean that to be patronizing.
SAGAL: Too late.
STEWART: I do know what they are and I even know what G.I. stands for.
SAGAL: Oh, OK. Very good. G.I. Joe was developed and brought to market 50 years ago in reaction to an interesting discovery. Was that discovery? A, that watching kids play with war toys made adults more likely to support actual wars; B, that children all over America were snapping off their army man’s legs trying to bend them; or C, that little boys were playing with their sister’s Barbie dolls in secret?
STEWART: I think I would go with C because I think that’s the one that I would like it to be.
SAGAL: Well, your will has made it so. It is in fact true.
(SOUNDBITE OF BELL)
SAGAL: Barbie dolls had come out in the late ’50s, and what people found is that boys were playing with their sister’s Barbie dolls. So Hasbro said we’ll make them a doll the same size and they can play with that. All right. Second question – as the Vietnam War went on and became less popular with the American public, G.I. Joe needed to change. So Hasbro, the company that made G.I. Joe did what? A, gave him a beard just like those hippie peaceniks; B, introduced a new doll to the line, Conscientious Objector Joe; or C, introduced a line of Viet Cong dolls called, quote, “Joe’s noble but misguided enemy.”
STEWART: I think I’m going to go for the beard one. It’s kind of weird sounding but I think I have a memory of seeing a doll like that with a beard. So I’ll go for A.
SAGAL: You are right, you did see a doll like that with the beard…
(SOUNDBITE OF BELL)
SAGAL: …Because G.I. Joe – they started making with a beard. Real soldiers don’t have beards, they’re not allowed to. G.I. Joe does get in trouble sometimes. Like when which of these happened? A, at a TSA checkpoint in 2011, agents confiscated one G.I. Joe doll’s tiny plastic rifle just in case; B, his patented Kung Fu grip caused protests by Chinese-Americans back in the ’70s who said that to be authentic, it should be called Wushu grip; or C, a packaging error resulted in G.I. Joes being shipped in packages for Ken dolls, leading many to believe that Barbie was stepping out.
STEWART: I think I will go with A with the first one.
SAGAL: You are correct again, Sir Patrick.
(SOUNDBITE OF BELL)
SAGAL: The TSA took the tiny rifle from the G.I. Joe because it was a, quote, “replica of an actual weapon.” A little, little replica. So Bill, how did Sir Patrick Stewart do on our show?
KURTIS: Congratulations Sir Patrick, you got them all right. You’re a winner.
SAGAL: Sir Patrick Stewart is the star of the new movie “Match” out in theaters January 14. Sir Patrick Stewart, what a pleasure to talk to you sir. What an honor. Thank you so much for joining us.
STEWART: Thank you very much.
(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)
The full transcript of his interview may be found HERE. You can listen to Wait Wait… Don’t Tell Me! each weekend on your local NPR station.