Paul Verhoeven on media's normalization of fascism


#62

Magic Mike was apparently sexy and fun.

Showgirls really, really wasn’t.


#63

Bob was only interested in a little PKDick - you know, like in the navy


#64

Interesting point. I always read it as a propaganda film by the government in the movie, but then I’d been watching a lot of 1940s war movies at the time.


#65

Yeah, and I think that’s what Verhoeven is probably so annoyed about with the remake/reboot. His film can be watched in different ways, and encourages you to watch it in different ways at the same time. That’s what made it interesting. I won’t comment on the book, except to say there is a lot you can do in a book. Movies have to pack a lot in to a little time, and playing it straight really limits how good a movie about a small group of soldiers winning a war against an alien menace can be.

Not that movies of the fight-the-aliens genre can’t be enjoyable to watch. But they aren’t usually very interesting.


#66

That’s possible, but I went into the thing not knowing the source material. I’m not the smartest person around, but I figured out that it was satire. It’s not like Verhoeven is subtle.


#67

This is something that I felt was weird about the critical response and people saying he was literally promoting naziism. It’s not subtle at all.

It is attempting to trigger both your sense of “These guys are fucking nazis!” and your sense “Rah! Rah! Fight the good fight!” at the same time. If you notice you have both of those feelings at the same time, it should make you feel distinctly uncomfortable. Apparently, that discomfort is Verhoeven’s fault.


#68

Not like he’s even the only one to do that, either:


#69

I would honestly love to know what Verhoeven’s take on Battlestar Galactica would be. Or Westworld. I left that theater feeling uncomfortable. His version of Ender’s Game would probably be a happy one with triumphant music.


#70

I mean, obviously art and science have both spent lots of time exploring authoritarianism and why people let themselves be pushed into doing obvious evil things. I feel like it’s pretty short-sighted or even dishonest to explore that issue without spending at least some time looking inward for an answer.


#71

Great artists create unwatchable dreck and market it by appropriating the name of a popular novel?

:wink:


#72

unwatchable dreck

I’m pretty sure we watched different movies


#73

I’ve been trying to figure out why I hate the movie so much and why discussions of “no, actually it’s genius!” get my dander up. I think this is why: The book doesn’t need his subversion. If Verhoeven wants to make a point about fascism, he should use his own vehicle, not hijack someone else’s that had its own interesting thought experiments on the subject and connections with its time. When this topic comes up I can’t help but remember that when Starship Troopers was written, a large portion of US males had been through the whole off-to-bootcamp-one-last-shore-leave-off-to-war trope. Only to them it wasn’t just a trope for mocking, it was the very real possibility of getting blown to bits. It wasn’t really science fiction, it was WWII and Korea. It’s a fine line between sarcasm and just being mean, and I think Verhoeven waltzed sprinted over that line without even noticing it was there. What I find interesting is that he felt free to mock Starship Troopers instead of, say, Battle Cry, when the latter is clearly a model of source material for the former- it would have been far more challenging to write, far more challenging to pull off, and far more meaningful. He wouldn’t dare make a version of Battle Cry the way he did Starship Troopers, which says to me that he was more cowardly than daring or brilliant. If you want to show war-movie-as-propaganda, nothing would get the point home more than using The Last Just War to make your point.

If the movie had actually expanded on the (IMO very interesting) concepts involving citizenship and enfranchisement, that I could respect.

And there is so much to mine there while updating it for the times. In an era of relative peace (keeping in mind this was the late 90s), what does it mean to make a sacrifice for your country? Can strong individuals make a voluntary collective stronger than an involuntary but instinctual collective, and what are the implications for human evolution and survival? What relationship can a military strong enough to fight existential threats have with civil society? What alternatives to universal enfranchisement might be possible and if they could work, how? Is it possible to restrict the franchise without violating our sensibilities regarding rights to self-determination?

Also I’m just mad that Verhoeven caused my wife and I to have a fight. On the way home from the theater I was ranting about how it ignored the book and my wife was saying “uh, IT’S JUST A MOVIE, stop taking it so seriously*” and we just went back and forth like that until we we’d pissed each other off. So yeah, fuck him. Except for Robocop, which was undisputedly awesome.

*and judging by the length and ramblingness of this post she was clearly correct.


#74

+1 for The Marching Morons hook. I’ve been thinking about that story a lot lately.


#75

Know what makes me mad? That I couldn’t write as terrific and coherent a critique and explanation of why fucking up ST was just wrong.


#76

[quote=“stinkinbadgers, post:73, topic:92571”]When this topic comes up I can’t help but remember that when Starship Troopers was written, a large portion of US males had been through the whole off-to-bootcamp-one-last-shore-leave-off-to-war trope. Only to them it wasn’t just a trope for mocking, it was the very real possibility of getting blown to bits. It wasn’t really science fiction, it was WWII and Korea. It’s a fine line between sarcasm and just being mean, and I think Verhoeven waltzed sprinted over that line without even noticing it was there.
[/quote]
It’s worth keeping in mind that Verhoeven is not really being sarcastic. He grew up in a German-occupied Netherlands and his neighbourhood was shelled by the Allies several times due to its proximity to a German military base. He’s well aware it isn’t science fiction - he simply has a different perspective to Heinlein, who served but did not see war.


#77

Different perspectives are great. But Gregory Maguire called his take on Oz “Wicked”, The 70’s R&B musical was “The Wiz” and the new series with another take is called “Emerald City”. They make clear that they’ve broken from the original material. Had Verhoeven stuck with his “Bug Attack” or whatever we’d not be having this discussion.


#78

And on that theme, see Haldeman’s The Forever War for a pointy-end Vietnam vet’s contrasting perspective on the subject.

Much less enthusiastic about the whole concept of war, unsurprisingly.


#79

SHOULD the riffraff be allowed to vote?

We’re just asking questions here.


#80

What about the many adaptations of Shakespeare that recontextualize the settings without changing the title of the play? If you set Hamlet on a space station, do you have to call it Hamlet In Spaaaace?

Edit: Or Hams In Spaaaace


#81

Surely ‘rugged individualists’ wouldn’t tolerate a social order that required government service in order to earn the vote?

I mean, I am by no means the sort of person that squeals Heinlein was a fascist at the slightest provocation, but I think your analysis is too soft on Starship Troopers.