An Intervention for “Glass Joe” from Nintendo’s Punch Out!!

Hey Joe — come on in. Thanks for coming over. I would say that you look surprised to see all of us here today, but I honestly can’t, since, for as long as I’ve known you, that look of terrified befuddlement has always been your default facial expression. Anyway — why don’t you come on inside? I’d ask you to grab a seat, but it looks like you’ve already fallen down, and I respect you way too much to pretend to look away while you struggle to your feet like a newborn deer finding its legs on a frozen pond. Actually — that’s a great place for us to start.

Joe — we think it’s time for you to reconsider your career as a professional boxer.

Look — we all honestly admire the fact that you’ve been chasing down this dream for as long as you have. It’s just that, at some point, you need to face reality. You’re a thirty-eight year old boxer with one win, ninety-nine losses, and an eponymous medical condition caused by what several teams of doctors have referred to as “an astonishingly high number of concussions.” You weigh one-hundred and ten pounds soaking wet (which I assume you always must be, given the inordinate amount of sweat and saliva that sprays off of your head with each successive punch to your almost comically cleft chin), and, despite your best efforts, you’ve never been able to shake a childhood nickname meant to indicate your extreme delicateness and fragility. You’re a great guy, Joe. But you’re a terrible boxer.

Listen — no one is saying that you don’t have talent, per se. It’s just that your particular…I guess I’m going to have to go ahead and call it a “skill set”, although that definitely doesn’t feel like the right phrase here… is probably best pointed towards a different pursuit. Are there careers out there where “a chronic inability to anticipate for, and thus properly defend against, an impending barrage of punches” will work to your advantage? Maybe. Are any of those careers professional boxing? Definitely not.

It’s really just a matter of identifying your strengths and then seeing where they can be best applied. Let me give you an example: That thing you do where you rear back like you’re going to deliver a right-hook, but then just sort of stand there holding that pose until someone punches you in your blatantly exposed stomach? The ability to maintain such a physically vulnerable position for as long as you’re able to would be an ideal quality for any number of jobs: hatha yoga instructor, Statue of Liberty impersonator, boxing trophy model…pretty much any profession except for the one whose primary objective is to not get punched in the stomach. Also, you’re aware that boxing is a spectator sport, right? Because I’ve got to be honest with you — that cocky little dance you do at the top of every match? It makes it really, really hard to get behind you, even as a plucky underdog character. There’s a reason that Rudy never spiked the football, Joe. A little humility goes a long way.

I know it sounds harsh, but here’s the reality: the only way that you’re ever crawling out of last place is if, by some miracle, Little Mac needs to forfeit your match after getting heat exhaustion during a waterfront run with that bicycle-riding sadist he pays to chase him around the city. And what then, Joe? Do you have any idea what type of opponent you’re going to have to face next? You do understand that there’s a fighter in the World Video Boxing Association who is literally half hippopotamus, right? Is that something that you’re ready for, Joe? Are you prepared to fight an actual monster? And let’s assume that you do somehow manage to get past that abomination — what do you think is going to happen when you step into the ring with Soda Popinski, huh? Because in spite of the fact that that bottle he’s always chugging from is cleverly labeled “Pop”, it’s pretty clear that what he’s actually drinking is just sugar water and Human Growth Hormone. That guy is a human meat statue, and you’ve got the physique of a butter sculpture carved with a warm knife on a hot day. And we haven’t even addressed the issue of Great Tiger! Putting aside the universe of racial insensitivity that surrounds that guy’s entire persona, you simply can’t turn a blind eye to the fact that Great Tiger can perform feats of freaking magic! I’ve seen you box, Joe — I’m pretty sure that your elusive second wind isn’t going to come against a guy whose entire attack strategy involves turning himself into an invisible death-fist just by blinking a jewel in his turban.

Look — Joe — I’m sorry that everything had to come out this way. It’s just that we’re all concerned for you, and we wanted to make sure we could get through to you before things get a little too, you know…pulpy up there. Can you come over and give me a hug? No? You’re going to stay down until I what? Seriously? Fine, Joe — have it your way.

One. Two. Three….