Here is the latest in a series of examinations into urban legends about toys and whether they are true or false. Click here for an archive of all toy urban legends featured so far!
TOY URBAN LEGEND: G.I. Joe‘s Snake Eyes cannot be depicted as being a fan of the New York Yankees.
If you grew up in the United States during the mid-to-late 1980s it is unlikely that you do not have at least a passing familiarity with the animated series G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero, which was based on the Hasbro toy line of the same name about a special mission force who combats a terrorist group known as Cobra.
One of the most famous (or perhaps infamous) parts of the show was how each episode would end with a public service piece where a member of the G.I. Joe team would give pretty common sense advice to young people. Stuff like “don’t pet strange dogs” or “don’t play with downed power wires.” The kid would invariably comment about how now they know what to do, and the G.I. Joe member would retort that “knowing is half the battle.”
In keeping with that theme of “knowing is half the battle” (as well as Major League Baseball’s Opening Day last week) a reader wrote in to ask:
There’s a crazy rumor that Hasbro does not allow Snake Eyes from G.I. Joe to be portrayed as a Yankees fan in any form of media. True or False?
Let’s find out!
This is basically true, although it is not necessarily something that connects to the television series or the G.I. Joe film series, either. Recently, Amazon introduced a new project called Kindle Worlds. Kindle Worlds is a way for people to sell their fan-fiction based on famous fictional properties and get paid for their work (while, of course, giving a percentage of the sale price to the company who owns the intellectual property that the fan fiction is being written about). Gossip Girl, Vampire Diaries and Valiant Entertainment’s characters are just a few of the properties available for people to use in their officially licensed fan fiction (Veronica Mars just recently became one of the approved properties, as well).
Well, one of the properties available is Hasbro’s G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero. However, naturally enough, there are restrictions that come with getting your fiction approved for use in Kindle Worlds. The two most common ones for most properties is that 1. there is a certain level of professionalism expected, so if your stories are just completely amateurish, most companies give themselves the freedom to drop your work and 2. that your work not be pornographic in nature. However, in the case of Hasbro and G.I. Joe, there are a number of other restrictions.
Most of these restrictions are quite logical. For instance, there is the requirement of
[n]o use of profanity/racial or ethnic slurs, disparaging or offensive remarks or language pertaining to sexual orientation, or any offensive remarks regarding any identifiable persons or companies. No G.I. JOE character (in other words, the GOOD GUYS) shall be portrayed as a member of a specific real-world political party or movement or as holding or advocating extreme real-world political or social views, such as racism or any belief in the superiority of one ethnic or racial group or sexual orientation.
But at least one of them is a bit more offbeat. The second to late restriction in the licensing agreement is “The character, Snake Eyes, shall never be depicted or described as a fan of the New York Yankees.”
Hasbro was formed by Henry, Hilal, and Herman Hassenfeld in 1923 in Providence, Rhode Island. The company is still headquartered in Providence to this day. Providence is deep in the heart of Boston Red Sox country. The Red Sox and Yankees are longtime rivals, so this almost certainly has something to do with Snake Eyes, the most popular member of the G.I. Joe team, not being allowed to be a Yankee fan. A humorous little joke at the expense of the Red Sox’s rivals. Do note that another G.I. Joe member, Cutter, specifically wears a Boston Red Sox baseball cap as part of his uniform.
However, while this is true for Kindle Worlds, it says nothing about Snake Eyes in other media, such as film or television. It is likely, though, that Hasbro would prefer it if he wasn’t a Yankee fan in those media, as well.
So the legend is…
STATUS: Basically True
So now you know. And knowing is, of course, half the battle!
Thanks for the question, anonymous reader!
Feel free (heck, I implore you!) to write in with your suggestions for future installments! My e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org.