TV URBAN LEGEND: G.I. Joe's Snake Eyes can’t 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’s likely you have at least a passing familiarity with the animated series G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero, based on the Hasbro toy line of the same name, about a special mission force that combats the terrorist group Cobra. One of the most famous (or perhaps infamous) parts of the show was the public service spot at the end of each episode where a member of the G.I. Joe team would give 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 this week), a reader wrote in:
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!
That’s basically true, although it’s not necessarily something that connects to the television series or to the G.I. Joe film franchise. Recently, Amazon introduced a new project called Kindle Worlds, which is a platform for people to sell licensed fan fiction based on 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). Alongside properties like Gossip Girl, Vampire Diaries Veronica Mars and Valiant Entertainment's characters is Hasbro's G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero.
However, naturally enough, there are restrictions that come with getting your fiction approved for sale on Kindle Worlds. For instance, there’s a certain level of professionalism expected, and the work can’t be pornographic in nature. But in the case of Hasbro and G.I. Joe, there are a number of other restrictions.
Most of them are logical: For example, there’s 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 last 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, where the company remains to this day -- deep in the heart of Boston Red Sox country. The Red Sox and Yankees are longtime rivals, so that restriction 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 little joke at the expense of the Red Sox's rivals. Do note that another G.I. Joe member, Cutter, wears a Boston Red Sox baseball cap as part of his uniform.
However, while that’s true for Kindle Worlds, it says nothing about Snake Eyes in other media, such as film or television. It’s likely, however, that Hasbro would prefer it if he weren't a Yankee fan in those media, as well. Luckily there was no ban on him being an Oakland Athletics fan, as “Snake Eyes” threw out the first pitch of an Athletics game last year.
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.
Be sure to check out my Entertainment Urban Legends Revealed for more urban legends about the worlds of TV, Movies and Music!