Paul Verhoeven on media's normalization of fascism


And, despite the Arnie atrocity that it shares a name (but little else) with, it’s actualy a really good story.

He wrote the whole thing during a 48-hr amphetamine binge, and it shows. But in a good way.


It’s worth having a dig through the rest of his reviews; James knows his shit.


What short are you referring to? ST is a novel. While all film making is interpretive, no, IMO it’s not OK to buy the name of a classic work to slap on your movie just because you can, even though it’s a classic Hollywood move. How about ‘Moby Dick’, the tale of a slacker who joins a house exterminating service with a crappy boss. It’s in the public domain, why not? Because it’s disrespectful of the author and all the readers of the book.


The Bachman Books were Stephen King’s best work, hands down.


I always saw Starship Troopers and Robocop as more two giant "fuck you"s to the American movie-going public for letting the Reagan Revolution happen than as a “satire” as I usually understood the idea of satire. Real punk rock sort of stuff.

Showgirls, on the other hand? No clue what he was going for there.


Verhoeven uses comedic elements to briefly break your suspension of disbelief, so that you’re not just accepting the world he’s presenting you, but evaluating it as part of a movie. When Robocop goes to commercial breaks, he’s not doing that to round out the universe he’s built for the movie to take place in, it’s to give you time to think about how that universe is unpleasant and avoidable.

Similarly, he doesn’t do full-on comedy because fascism is not funny. Certainly you can make a comedy about fascists, but a movie whose main theme is “how does fascism creep into a society” cannot be presented as a farce without losing the sincerity of that question. Just as the remake of Robocop loses its sincere message about the dangers of corporate power in society when you reframe it from the utterly dehumanised person’s struggle against a system they physically cannot rebel against to just a guy in a robot suit who magically rewrites his own place in the system through the power of the human spirit alone. It’s no longer about the dangers of unelected power, but just libertarian fanfiction about being a kickass cyborg.


The Long Walk is my standard bushwalking motivation; whenever the mountain gets too steep, I just imagine that there’s a halftrack full of soldiers behind me. :slight_smile:

And, dark as it is, Rage/Getting It On probably helped me to not slaughter the bastards I dealt with at school.


The even better news: People won’t be able to say Happy Holidays anymore. Believe me, it’s worth it!


So, in the Starship Troopers universe, any citizen may request a term in Federal Service and be granted that request without anyone’s let or hindrance. Completion of the term is the only way to gain the right to vote.

So, just what is “Federal Service”? There are two commonly given answers, only one of which can be correct:

  1. Federal Service is roughly equivalent to present-day military service (Army, Navy, Marine), including military support services such as research and development, logistics, labor battalions and intelligence.
  1. Federal Service is equivalent to general government service, including military service and what we would call “civil service,” the latter being responsible for ninety-five percent of all Federal Service positions.

There has been an extraordinary amount of argument over which answer is correct. There is evidence to support both views, although it is unequally distributed. The evidence for answer one is strong and plentiful. The evidence for answer two is sparse, weak and subjective, although points can be made in its favor. Given the imbalance, it would seem that the argument would have been settled long ago. This would be true were it not for a very strong comment by Robert Heinlein himself, insisting that the latter answer is correct.


But! The Stand! The Gunslinger!


Vicious attack on Hollywood? It’s my favorite Verhoeven film. I’m certain that Verhoeven was intentionally trying to be funny (despite what some think), but I wonder if screenwriter Joe Eszterhas was.


Good, but Bachman was still better than King :wink:


It’s not like any actual qualifications are required to be a “critic”


Well, most film “critics” are really just reviewers. They can say what they liked and what they didn’t, but they don’t really have the background or inclination to say anything terribly insightful.


Verhoeven is a woefully underrated director. I don’t understand why he killed his career with Showgirls.


I don’t know, a lot of his stuff is from a period when ultraviolence and horror were commonplace - in books/comics as well as in movies. I don’t think he really pushed the envelope in that regard; he just went along with what was perceived as popular at the time. A lot of European '70s and '80s sci-fi comics were really out there, from Metal Hurlant to Serpieri - he’s the sort of artist who would have been familiar with that world.


Because he got away with Basic Instinct?


That just reminded me of my reason to be mad at Verhoeven.

I was dragged into watching Sliver [1] because the girl I was chasing at the time developed a crush on Sharon Stone after Basic Instinct.

Robocop etc just barely balance the scales on that. Ick.

[1] Not Verhoeven, I know. Causality once removed.


At least Showgirls was… something. For me, his nadir is probably Hollow Man, a well-made movie that was just terribly bland. And bland is something you never want to associate with Verhoeven.


Basic Instinct was an erotic thriller in the '70s tradition, that exploited the sliding back of US boomers into hypocritical prudish and voyeuristic conservatism. I honestly don’t know what Showgirls was supposed to be.

To be fair though: some 15 years later, Magic Mike broke the box-office. Verhoeven might have just been ahead of his time.