The world has changed a lot since 2004's Team America: World Police. At the time, the whole “America, fuck yeah!” attitude was still a funny concept because it was a recognizably absurd escalation of the post-9/11 patriotism that swept the country (while, in true Trey Parker and Matt Stone “giant douche/turd sandwich” fashion, also serving as a playful poke at the people who were concerned about the nation’s increasing commitment to actually bossing the planet around with military force). But that was before so many fascists and white supremacists really started to openly hold prominent positions in the federal government, standing behind the flag as if American greatness—ahem—was a worthy justification for whatever horrible fucking thing they wanted to do or say on a national level.
All of that is to say that American exceptionalism, even when deployed sarcastically, isn’t really all that funny anymore, making this trailer for Netflix’s America: The Motion Picture feel a little… weird. Directed by Matt Thompson (of Archer and Frisky Dingo fame), the animated movie is an over-the-top Adult Swim-y take on American history, with Channing Tatum playing a foul-mouthed chainsaw-swinging version of George Washington, Andy Samberg as a vampire-like Benedict Arnold, and Olivia Munn as a Tony Stark-esque super scientist Thomas Edison. The idea is that it’s funny because it’s so ridiculous and there are anachronistic jokes about cars and Channing Tatum says “let’s go start a fucking revolution” before charging into a Star Wars-style ground battle (complete with AT-AT walkers modeled after double-decker buses), but is it funny? Are we as a country ready for people to start taking the sort of “America is the best!” bullshit as a joke when the other guy wanted a non-joke version of this to be taught in schools? Would this be even remotely palatable if he had won the election? Are we being fun-hating downers who are overthinking something that everyone will recognize is obviously a joke?
Phil Lord and Chris Miller, who produced Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse and generally seem to have good taste, are on board with America: The Motion Picture as producers, so the answer to that last question is probably “yes,” but we’ll have to wait until this thing lands on Netflix on June 30 to really find out.