Netflix is adding a controversial movie to its catalog this week that may not hold up well to fresh scrutiny. On Sunday, Aug. 1 the streamer will add Team America: World Police to its ranks. The 2004 black comedy may well be too flippant on sensitive topics for modern audiences to enjoy.
Team America: World Police was written by Trey Parker, Matt Stone and Pam Brady — all best known for their work on South Park. It is a satire of big-budget action films as well as commentary on the political climate of the time. In the years immediately after the terrorist attacks on 9/11, blind patriotism reigned supreme and some Americans embraced the criticisms of other countries who said the U.S. was trying to "police the world." Team America simply makes that concept literal.
Team America uses a form of puppetry called Supermarionation. It stars Parker, Stone, Kristen MIller, Masana, Daran Norris, Phil Hendrie, Maurice LaMarche, Chelsea Marguerite, Jeremy Shada and Fred Tatasciore in voice-over. If anything, the puppetry format only enhances the shock value of the crudest and most graphic moments in the film.
The plot generally follows a fictional paramilitary organization from the U.S. fighting terrorism all over the world — except in the U.S. Each main member of the team is a play on classic action movie tropes, but the villains are more realistic. It also heavily criticizes Hollywood for its hollow political rhetoric, referring often to the fictional "Film Actors' Guild" by its obscene acronym.
Naturally, critics acknowledged the offensive material in Team America at the time, although many argued that it was justified for the topic at hand. The movie has a 77 percent approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes at the time of this writing, with a critical consensus reading: "Team America will either offend you or leave you in stitches. It'll probably do both."
Still, the social and political climates have changed drastically in the years since the movie was first released, and new viewers may take more issue with the flippant homophobia and racism portrayed in the movie. This would not be the first time that a piece of media from the early 2000s was relitigated on social media, nor the first debate about the function of satire in a plot this long.
For better or worse, Team America: World Police will likely find its way back into popular discourse next week. The movie joins Netflix on Sunday, Aug. 1.