Skip to main content

I've had this eating away at me for a long time. I watched that movie again and again right after the runup to the Iraq War in 2003.

I saw the similarities - the propaganda blitz (where I screamed and cried and raged at the TV and wondered if Riverbend was all right), and the dehumanizing of the Iraqi people. In fact, when I saw in the movie "the Arachnid threat" it kept echoing in my mind as "the Iraqi threat" like the Iraqi people were bugs. Bugs to be stamped out like in the movie.

More under the fold.

I am aware that this movie is (very loosely) based on a Robert Heinlein novel - now, I loved Robert Heinlein stories as a child (still do) but I am very well aware of his politics - which are totally not mine. I always thought Paul Verhoeven was a genius - he managed to, in one fell swoop, make a movie that exactly echoes Heinlein's thoughts on citizenship and warfare and patriotism, and yet at the same time to satirize the same, and make it one of the most brilliant antiwar movies I have ever seen.

And I know that was not even Paul Verhoeven's intent - he didn't even read any Heinlein, just wanted to show a straight-up Fascist society like he had seen in his youth. I wonder what the Grand Master would think of THAT - as libertarian (small L) as he was.

The parallels are awesome and icky - Doogie Howser showing up at the end in full Nazi regalia is certainly not very subtle - nor is the torture that they performed on the bugs.

Now - the bugs are ugly and icky and loathesome - but they were minding their own business in their end of the galaxy until WE invaded - so they retaliated. Well. Erm.

It's still a great movie. I like it. Oh and by the way, I think Dizzy was much hotter than Carmen, in the way that Betty is much hotter than Veronica. Ginger and Mary Ann (Gilligan
s Island - when I was a kid I had a massive crush on the Professor, and thought Ginger was IT - sometimes the hot slut IS the hotter one haha - and apologies to all Mary Ann guys out there.

This is all a little tongue in cheek - but it's been something I wanted to get off my chest since the early 2000s - dark days indeed for all progressives.

I know that those people that did that monstrosity, - Shrub, Dick Cheney, etc - will never be called to account. But GOD knows what they did. Don't know if I believe in God or not, but I know that karma will get them sooner or later.

Your Email has been sent.
You must add at least one tag to this diary before publishing it.

Add keywords that describe this diary. Separate multiple keywords with commas.
Tagging tips - Search For Tags - Browse For Tags


More Tagging tips:

A tag is a way to search for this diary. If someone is searching for "Barack Obama," is this a diary they'd be trying to find?

Use a person's full name, without any title. Senator Obama may become President Obama, and Michelle Obama might run for office.

If your diary covers an election or elected official, use election tags, which are generally the state abbreviation followed by the office. CA-01 is the first district House seat. CA-Sen covers both senate races. NY-GOV covers the New York governor's race.

Tags do not compound: that is, "education reform" is a completely different tag from "education". A tag like "reform" alone is probably not meaningful.

Consider if one or more of these tags fits your diary: Civil Rights, Community, Congress, Culture, Economy, Education, Elections, Energy, Environment, Health Care, International, Labor, Law, Media, Meta, National Security, Science, Transportation, or White House. If your diary is specific to a state, consider adding the state (California, Texas, etc). Keep in mind, though, that there are many wonderful and important diaries that don't fit in any of these tags. Don't worry if yours doesn't.

You can add a private note to this diary when hotlisting it:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from your hotlist?
Are you sure you want to remove your recommendation? You can only recommend a diary once, so you will not be able to re-recommend it afterwards.
Rescue this diary, and add a note:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from Rescue?
Choose where to republish this diary. The diary will be added to the queue for that group. Publish it from the queue to make it appear.

You must be a member of a group to use this feature.

Add a quick update to your diary without changing the diary itself:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary?
(The diary will be removed from the site and returned to your drafts for further editing.)
(The diary will be removed.)
Are you sure you want to save these changes to the published diary?

Comment Preferences

  •  Tip Jar (16+ / 0-)

    Old Mamasan would certainly be glad to know that Ronnie's gotten past it. I'll tell her the next time I see her. Stephen King, Hearts in Atlantis

    by Rosebuddear on Sat Feb 01, 2014 at 04:30:42 PM PST

  •  Starship Troopers was hugely misunderstood (15+ / 0-)

    As you note, it was an ingenious satire, since it subverted from the inside out, Heinlein's sincere saber-rattling to young boys. The reviews took it at face value. Verhoeven had to deal with totalitarian fascist and communist governments his entire life, he knew what he was doing.

    Another example is John Milius' The Wind and the Lion. Milius is so enamored with Teddy Roosevelt's imperialism and macho bullshit that the film strangely becomes a great unintentional parody of jingoism.

  •  Couldn't agree more. (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Rosebuddear, IndieGuy, lotlizard, kkkkate

    The movie has been a guilty pleasure of mine for years for many reasons, one of which is the one you highlighted. It's depiction of the marketing and packaging of war and the way it is sold to the youth who end up fighting and dying as well as the society at large is simultaneously funny, terrifying and just a little bit too close to home.
    And no question, Dizzy is so freakin' hot it is not funny.

  •  The only good bug is a dead bug (4+ / 0-)

    Still one of my all time favorite movies.  I read the book after seeing the movie.  One interesting thing in the book, if I remember right, is that one of the main characters makes clear the authoritarian system they'd developed wasn't superior, but it brought stability and that was good enough at the time.  Also interested in the concept that citizenship is something you earn rather than something you're born with.  Had to think about that one for awhile.

    And next time we need to torture some al Qaeda prisoners, we can just show them Starship Troopers 2.  That was a crime against humanity.

    Cynicism is what passes for insight among the mediocre.

    by Sky Net on Sat Feb 01, 2014 at 05:38:38 PM PST

    •  yeah I thought about that (0+ / 0-)

      for awhile. I do believe that citizenship is maybe something you earn. but I don't believe that any people that maybe haven't earned that don't deserve to live.

      I'm really upset by the idea that we think now that the poor and homeless people dont deserve to live.

      Old Mamasan would certainly be glad to know that Ronnie's gotten past it. I'll tell her the next time I see her. Stephen King, Hearts in Atlantis

      by Rosebuddear on Sat Feb 01, 2014 at 05:52:59 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Speaking of which... (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Sky Net, Rosebuddear

      In Harold and Kumar Escape from Guantanamo Bay, a character meets Neil Patrick Harris and tells him that the reason he became a federal officer is because he idolized his character in Starship Troopers. It was meta genius.

      I'm living in America, and in America you're on your own. America's not a country. It's just a business.

      by CFAmick on Sat Feb 01, 2014 at 10:42:20 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Well, it's no 'Judge Dredd' (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Sky Net, Rosebuddear, IndieGuy

    But then, what is?

    Personally I'd like to see it re-made with today's technology that can create the power suits, which were the whole attraction of the book in the first place.

    "THRUSH (a 60s term for the Republican Party) believes in the two-party system—the masters and the slaves" - Napolean Solo, Man From U.N.C.L.E.

    by Fordmandalay on Sat Feb 01, 2014 at 05:38:52 PM PST

  •  The Part About Only Vets Are Citizens (4+ / 0-)
    The young State subject of German nationality is
    obliged to undergo the school training prescribed to every
    German. By this he subjects himself to be educated to
    become a fellow citizen, conscious of his race and nation.
    Later he has to undergo the physical exercises further pre-
    scribed by the State, and finally he joins the army. The
    training in the army is a general one; it has to comprise
    every German and to educate him for the range of military
    activities for which he can be used according to his physical
    and mental abilities* Thereupon the irreproachably healthy
    young man, after discharging his military duty, is in the
    most solemn manner given the State citizenship.
    -Adolph Hitler, Mein Kampf

    Men are so necessarily mad, that not to be mad would amount to another form of madness. -Pascal

    by bernardpliers on Sat Feb 01, 2014 at 06:26:20 PM PST

    •  Major difference - in the book, absolutely no one (5+ / 0-)

      was required to join the military. They were in many cases actively discouraged, in fact. Johnny Rico was presented with a performance by a severely wounded veteran (missing limbs) manning the enlistment office, aimed at discouraging people who weren't determined to join. (A far cry from our own present-day active recruitment policies.)

      Anyone could join. No one could be denied a term of service. A blind deaf-mute with no limbs could join, and would be given duties commensurate with their abilities.

      The single penalty for not earning citizenship by serving in the military is that as a non-citizen, you couldn't vote. Period.

      Pretty far cry from Hitler's vision.

      •  This thread made me go back and re-read the book.. (4+ / 0-)

        and I was wrong. Beyond voting, there is one other benefit of citizenship: the ability to hold public office.

        Heinlein devotes several pages to discussing the reasons why their society limits the franchise to honorably discharged veterans (not even current enlistees), which might go a long way toward dispelling the notion that he wrote approvingly of a fascist, militaristic society. I'd like to put them here in full, but that would be improper. He does distill the conversation down to a single sentence, though:

        Under our system every voter and officeholder is a man who has demonstrated through voluntary and difficult service that he places the welfare of the group ahead of personal advantage.
        A further two paragraphs are also illuminating:
        Both for practical reasons and for mathematically verifiable moral reasons, authority and responsibility must be equal -- else a balancing takes place as surely as current flows between points of unequal potential. To permit irresponsible authority is to sow disaster; to hold a man responsible for anything he does not control is to behave with blind idiocy. The unlimited democracies were unstable because their citizens were not responsible for the fashion in which they exerted their sovereign authority... other than through the tragic logic of history. The unique 'poll tax' that we must pay was unheard of. No attempt was made to determine whether a voter was socially responsible to the extent of his literally unlimited authority. If he voted the impossible, the disastrous possible happened instead -- and responsibility was then forced on him willy-nilly and destroyed both him and his foundationless temple.

        Superficially, our system is only slightly different; we have democracy unlimited by race, color, creed, birth, wealth, sex, or conviction, and anyone may win sovereign power by a usually short and not too arduous term of service -- nothing more than a light workout to our cave-man ancestors. But that slight difference is one between a system that works, since it is constructed to match the facts, and one that is inherently unstable. Since sovereign franchise is the ultimate in human authority, we insure that all who wield it accept the ultimate in social responsibility -- we require each person who wishes to exert control over the state to wager his own life -- and lose it, if need be -- to save the life of the state. The maximum responsibility a human can accept is thus equated to the ultimate authority a human can exert. Yin and yang, perfect and equal.

        Given the current situation unfolding in New Jersey, perhaps he has a point. I won't even go into the Koch octopus.

        Verhoeven's society bore no discernible relationship to Heinlein's, from what I remember of the movie. Nothing more than superficial plot and character name duplication. The Puppet Masters did a much better job, although still a travesty. The major saving grace of that film was Donald Sutherland.

        •  Speaking of The Puppet Masters, I just found (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          gerrilea, Rosebuddear

          an essay by one of the screenwriters. It's definitely worth a look.

        •  Responsibilities (0+ / 0-)

          Thanks for this quote:

          Under our system every voter and officeholder is a man who has demonstrated through voluntary and difficult service that he places the welfare of the group ahead of personal advantage.
          Heinlein was a die-hard libertarian and became more conservative as he grew older, but all through his works you can find the theme of the Individual's responsibility to the Society in which he lives.

          It's something the current brood of Neo-Randites, including some who revere Heinlein, don't get.

          Read my webcomic, "Hannibal Tesla Adventure Magazine" at

          by quarkstomper on Sun Feb 02, 2014 at 05:02:34 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

  •  My favorite part in the movie (4+ / 0-)

    As the movie progresses the recruits keep getting younger and younger looking.

    The last bunch (shown in a propaganda broadcast) appear to be 12 or 13.

    If the pilot's good, see, I mean if he's reeeally sharp, he can barrel that baby in so low... oh you oughta see it sometime. It's a sight. A big plane like a '52... varrrooom! Its jet exhaust... frying chickens in the barnyard!

    by Major Kong on Sat Feb 01, 2014 at 07:16:21 PM PST

  •  Would You Like To Know More? (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Rosebuddear, gerrilea

    I think my favorite part was the embedded reporter getting killed by the bug. They should have hired Geraldo for that scene.

    Good girls shop. Bad girls shop. Shoppin', shoppin' from A to Z!

    by Zornorph on Sat Feb 01, 2014 at 08:37:58 PM PST

  •  I liked Heinlein (4+ / 0-)

    As a kid I devoured the stuff written by Heinlein, Asimov, and others. As a farm boy, the marxist overtones went right over my head. I liked the technology, gadgetry, and action. I still like a lot of Heinlein, but I'm smarter now.

    I could see the young me watching the movie and focusing on the technology, action, hot chicks, and co-ed shower scenes.

    The old me now realizes that the society is atypical and the idea of throwing rocks from across the galaxy is stupid since it would take the rocks millions of years to reach earth. To hit Buenos Aires the rocks would have had to have been launched when man was still a monkey.

    The movie.

    The book.

  •  Service guarantees citizenship (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    gerrilea, Rosebuddear, ddn

    The only Good Bug .... is a Dead Bug!!

    Shoot a nuke down a bug hole, you got a lot of dead bugs.

    Rico's Roughnecks!!

    I want to design those baby nukes.... magnetic collapse trigger on tritium/deuterium core ... perfect for hand grenades and mortars and DRONES!!!!

  •  oh and btw (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Rue McClanahan was awesome in that movie as the blind instructor - a far cry from her role as the slutty old girl in Golden Girls indeed.

    Old Mamasan would certainly be glad to know that Ronnie's gotten past it. I'll tell her the next time I see her. Stephen King, Hearts in Atlantis

    by Rosebuddear on Sat Feb 01, 2014 at 11:00:26 PM PST

Subscribe or Donate to support Daily Kos.

Click here for the mobile view of the site