Assorted links


Re 6. Odd that the critics largely weren't even passingly familiar with the book, which would have made the satire obvious.

Huh? The movie writers weren't even passingly familiar with the book, which is why I still think the people who claim it's satire are the ones who don't get it. If it's a satire or parody of the book, it's just slightly less sophisticated than a kindergartner mocking another by saying "Durr hurr! Look at me! I'm so smart!"

If it was intended as satire, it's the product of someone so immersed in an echo chamber that they were unintentionally mocking the satires and deconstructions of people who had talked to others who had read the book.


I think it's a great film taken as a propaganda movie from the book's universe.

It's a terrible, terrible adaptation of the book or Heinlein's thoughts on military service, civic duty, liberty, or anything else.

But it is not a "satire, a ruthlessly funny and keenly self-aware sendup of right-wing militarism", at least not if you've read the book - and I assume Verhoeven didn't manage to avoid that.)

Verhoeven had Neil Patrick Harris walking around in an SS uniform. How could you possibly think it was not satire? I don't think the "propaganda film from the book's universe" angle works because a) the film is hilarious, and b) propaganda films don't show people dying all over the place.

Satire implies some basic minimum of intelligence, sophistication and wit. Verhoeven had none.

Some propaganda films do show people dying all over the place. I have seem some deeply disturbing Japanese ones from pre-1945 for instance. Even British war films are inclined to show people dying. It is American films that cannot accept that reality.

While criticizing the Rifftrax jokes as crude misunderstandings, the author completely ignores that the Riffers explicitly acknowledge the satire and make fun of how asinine it is. For example, toward the end of the movie, when Neil Patrick Harris's character is in his full-on Nazi garb, they joke that the movie wasn't being subtle enough and he should have started speaking in German and throwing out Heil Hitlers.

I don't know how many critics are aware that it's a satire attempt, but I'm sure it's more than the author pretends.

6) So, I took some Science Fiction class in college to satisfy general education. The instructor told us that Starship Troopers was written as intentionally pro-Vietnam, and that The Stainless Steel Rat was written as the anti-war antidote. This reviewer seems to think he is watching The Stainless Steel Rat. Which makes me think that possibly the film tilted that way ... but more likely the reviewer is just confused. (I'd hate to think I was taught wrong, but my college instructor seemed dialed in, to pal around, with the authors.)

The whole Atlantic piece is mood affiliation.

I never saw the film, but from 2nd-hand reports it seemed to have been pretty unremarkable anti-war fare.

The thing about the book however is that it is quite definitely in favour of a kind of militarism. Which is what makes it food for thought, and is alway why a Hollywood movie couldn't possibly get away with being a serious take on the book.

The book and, to a lesser extent, the movie, are interesting because it's hard to tell which parts should be interpreted as satire. Probably not all of them! Among the questions raised is, "Is it possible to motivate people to win a total war without resorting to propaganda?" The Atlantic reviewer who says, "ha-ha, what a brilliant satire of wartime propaganda, why aren't you dummies laughing with me?" is missing a level of meaning.

Well, Harrison thought none was satire, which is why he felt he had to write "Bill."

Harrison is also an astonishingly unsubtle hack. His ability to detect satire, existing or not, is suspect.

I think, e.g., the part about abolishing the franchise for civilians, is not meant to be taken at face value, but even that is debatable. I like Bill too, there is a Kickstarter funded movie version in the works, btw.

It's been a while since I re-read Troopers, but I vaguely recall there were non-military "public service" jobs (of the "actually doing hard work" variety, not what we call "public service" these days) that also bought one the franchise, not just military service.

(I doublechecked via Wikipedia, which supports my recollection - the "Federal Service" in ST is not just military - "Heinlein made a similar claim in his Expanded Universe and further noted that 95% of "veterans" were not military personnel but members of the civil service and that only retired veterans could vote or hold office")

Of course, it's easy to miss that if one isn't reading real closely, and then one can too-easily see ST as a "militarist" work rather than what Heinlein was (at least in part) writing it as - an exploration of limited, earned franchise vs. universal, unearned franchise.

Yet throughout the book we don't see a single one of these supposed non-military public service folks (or if we do, it's briefly in passing). And the characters all seem to assume that military service is what is meant by "service"

I saw the movie several years before I read the book. I thought the movie was an excellent piece of satire. I imagine if I had gotten to the book first my opinions about the movie may be different.

I don't think any part of the book was satire.

And that's really interesting, given that in other books Heinlein comes across as an anarcho-capitalist, free-love mystic.

I recommend Haldeman's "The Forever War" as the anti-war response to "Troopers." Also very in touch with Vietnam.

How is it an anti-war response? Apart from loathing the American military does it actually have a point about war? We are all to blame. Boo hiss, America! We are all going to be replaced by Gay Clones. Yeah progress!

I am sorry Haldeman had a horrible time in the military. But that doesn't make his book in any way a sensible comment on war.

John Personna, ask for a tutition refund. Starship Troopers was published in 1958. It was not about Vietnam. It was about Korea - when Conscripted American soldiers conspicuously failed to stand and fight. When whole units in Japan mutinied rather than go.

Starship Troopers was written in the 50s, and the antidote to it was Haldeman's "Forever War", which was written after vietnam, specifically as a reply to SST (and, fwiw, Heinlein loved the forever war). You were most definitely taught wrong.

6. Calling the novel "self-serious saber-rattling" is fairly dismissive.

that's not all the book was, but "self-serious saber-rattling" is a pretty good one line summary.

Only if you think "sabre rattling" is a synonym for anything that approves martial virtues. I think the term is a lazy, incorrect. I mean who is he rattling the sabre at? The imaginary alien arthropods? Heinlein doesn't even bother to equate them with communists -- he is just so uninterested in the actual war.

He is interested in the per person of Juan Rico; and the tone is pretty sombre. So I'll grant your "self-serious".

6. The author is exactly correct about what the film portrays, but in the same mindset he is exactly wrong that the film was misperceived.

Anyone who actually read Starship Troopers knows that Heinlein wasn't making a mockery of the military ethic. It was a serious social critique of democracy and lunatic, suicidal pacifism.

The movie, in stark contrast, portrayed the characters and their government as jingoistic and bloodthirsty. Paul Verhoeven did a hatchet job on Heinlein's work which was exceeded in its nauseating caricatures only by the second film. In that film, Verhoeven attacked the military hierarchy and portrayed the characters not as valiant warriors but as sick futuristic versions of Apocalypse Now. The third film was slightly better, finally adding the armored suits from the book. But here Verhoeven ridiculed religion with only a minor retreat at the end from his vicious attacks.

Perhaps im being too hard on Verhoeven when some script writer or producer is more to blame. But if ST was a failed series of films, it was because fans of Heinlein barely recognized their beloved book, and non-Heinlein fans found no enjoyment in the puckish satire.

The best part of ST was the casting and special effects.

A key part of Heinlein's model, with "bugs," was war with the sub-human. In 1959. Think about that.

Jeebus, death from the skies as the B52s were gearing up.

The bugs represent Communists, not subhumans. He makes the argument early in the book that communism is against human nature.

Riiight Ted, but think it through. Why did he represent the communists with bugs, sub-humans? Is it because an intergalactic war with other humans, bombing human children, would be less black and white?

Or it could be because the book was intended to be a "juvenile."

You mean like draft-age kids? (Sorry, maybe I'm just permanently warped by reading Troopers and then Bill in succession.)

Isn't part of the idea of communism subjugating the self for the good of the group? Hive minded bugs seem to reflect that much more than they reflect yellow or brown people. Heinlein sets up a direct conflict between the self determination of his "history and moral philosophy" and the countless, mindless drones of the bugs.

I mention waves of Koreans. I think one of the scary and astounding things was that they did charge our machine guns. That's why I give Troopers some 50's credibility. And if I'd been born in the 30's, fought in the 40's, watched the communists rise in the 50's, I'm not sure I would have made the pivot that Vietnam was not an existential threat to the American way of life. It is only now, with retrospect, that we can say the Vietnamese domino falling was not the end of the world.

The list of eusocial animals is basically insects and mole rats. Would you have felt better if they were fighting Mole People?

Swarms of bugs were quite reminiscent of swarms of North Koreans, but "easier." Just bugs.

Does he even equate them with communists? Not explicitly at least. He doesn't seem to care. He just states it as a fact of nature that alien species will try, but fail, to get along peacefully, and that Xenocidal warfare will ensue. He doesn't seem to blame either side.

I think that particular philosophy is just a plot-device for S.T, which want to talk about Rico (compare it to "A Stranger in a Strange Land", where no war of the worlds is ever considered). Still I find it is a weakness, there is no discussion of why earth is fighting that war, or of what is wrong with the enemy.

A hive is pretty pure communal living.

" Still I find it is a weakness, there is no discussion of why earth is fighting that war, or of what is wrong with the enemy."

In fairness, sometimes that's not really worth discussing.

A sheep doesn't need to discuss why a wolf is "the enemy" or what's "wrong" with it.

(Not the best metaphor in this context, but I trust it makes the point.

While it can reek of "convenience" to have a Pure Elemental Enemy, there's no cultural or philosphical reason why a sapient other species could not be effectively "inherently hostile" from a human perspective.

And if that's the case, well, there's no need to address the question of "why" or "what's wrong with them"; the first is "because otherwise they'll kill us all" and the second is "see the first answer".)

Come on. The setting of the book is an intergalactic war. It would have been a contrivance to have anythint but the enemy being non-human. As for them being bugs, we have the enemies in Enders Game and Men in Black also portrayed as bugs. The Kilrathi were tiger-like, the Gorns lizard-like. Unless you are going to create a completely unfamiliar creature, any extraterrestrial enemy will resemble a fearsome creature from planet Earth.

I dont deny that Heinlein may have used bugs as a metaphor for Asian communists, but that it not inappropriate given the social mindset and method of employment of forces.

Dehumanizing propaganda may in fact be necessary to induce peaceful people to mercilessly kill in a total war and to readjust to a peaceful life in the post-bellum. The metaphor of an enemy that tunnels underground and insidiously attacks in surprise is also apropos.

But rather than sparring over Heinlein's intent, let's agree that Verhoeven intended to turn Heinlein's work on its head.

As you may be aware there was some commentary surrounding Ender's Game, and the sorts of problems the authors can "set up" in science fiction (link).

Some people do choose to set up war between human civilizations across space. War with bugs is quite different from that, and as you say might be seen as dehumanizing propaganda may in fact be necessary to induce peaceful people to mercilessly kill in a total war.

I was not a survivor of WWII, who saw first hand the near-triumph of totalitarian regimes. If fact I came to age in a world of stasis, balance, between east and west. So I'll never have quite the 50's vintage fear that the communists were about to try what Hitler and Tojo had. I therefore have some sympathy for a "warning" book from the 50's, but by the 70's, when I read it, I think it was past its sell by date, and Harrison was on the new vibe. That in the then-current environment threat and war were over-sold.

And yet here we are in 2013, still talking about the Heinlein book and the Harrison book is in the compost heap.

You know, I was going to suggest that I might re-read Troopers, and Bill, again in succession. I feel much better about that than suggesting that any book should be in a compost heap.

But also I think your suggestion that Harrison ultimately lost is wrong. We are waning in militarism now.

Just sadly, we did that whole Iraq thing, in good Starshiip Troopers style.

"Just sadly, we did that whole Iraq thing, in good Starshiip Troopers style."

Except there was not a hint of "dehumanizing propaganda" against Iraqis, was there?

The State was in fact quite careful to present the enemy as the government of Iraq, and as enemies because of, in part, their oppression of Iraqis (and the now-known-false belief of the world's intel agencies that said government was big on chemical and biological weapons). And at the same time present the individual Iraqi (and in parallel, the individual Afghani, and the individual Muslim worldwide) as just like us.

I don't recall ST being about a war "to free the - good and basically decent as human - bugs from the tyranny of their hive leaders", which would be the rhetorical parallel to Iraq.

Imagine the kids who today see the movie on just a surface level. For them, are the "bugs" Muslims?

For them the bugs are bugs.

Paul Verhoeven had nothing to do with the second movie.

As somebody, who never heard about Heinlein before seeing this movie (I was 18 year old non-American), I immediately got the satire of the movie and I really liked it. Everybody I know who enjoys action sci-fi movies got the satire too. It is interesting that back then I thought that the satire was "subtle" but after reviewing the movie recently (together with the third part which I didn't like that much) I found the satire to be too straightforward and too obvious. On the other hand, my friends (including my wife) who are not into this genre were appalled by the form of the movie and they missed point.

I agree - I'm amazed that anyone can interpret the film as anything but satire!

Then again I first saw it as a teenager, when my only methods of communication were irony and sarcasm. So I was quite attuned to that.

I had no idea there were sequels to the movie. A CGI cartoon series (which should make you WTF) but totally clueless about the sequels.

They went direct to video

#2. Denver looks poised to get knocked from tenth place once the 25% sales tax on cannabis sales kicks in.

Don't be deceived, either: high-quality (pun unavoidable) cannabis sells for well less than $200/ounce in the Southeast.

Curious to see metrics provided for cigarette sales: I thought Millennials (ahem: two ells, two ens, Tyler) only smoked e-cigarettes. I mean, apart from cannabis. (And how far behind are e-joints?)

Whoops: well, three ells, yeah. BUT: double ell, double en . . . .

Ideally we also smoke our cannabis from a vaporizer.

High-quality cannabis absolutely does not sell for under 200 an ounce in the Southeast, or anywhere other than the west and even that is quite rare. Good-quality yes, but not dispensary-level.

Granted, I've not sampled "dispensary-level" products from Washington, California, or Colorado. I have sampled wares in Amsterdam, however, and comparisons with what (in years past) I've found available in the Southeast doesn't make the product available here vastly inferior (Amsterdam hashish is another story or two altogether, though). Without USDA grading of the produce, I can't say what THC concentrations either of us is invoking, but I kid you not that high quality weed in the Southeast can be found for $140 to $160 an ounce on the black market (wonder now how prices in legalized domains will affect prices in black market domains).

The problem with the film to me is that it satirized something the book had nothing to do with. Verhoeven himself admitted he never finished reading it.

Starship Troopers (the book) essentially was about Heinlein's personal beliefs but Verhoeven failed to comprehend them. For example, take the infamous knife-throwing scene with Zim and Hendricks. Hendricks asked Zim why practice knife-throwing when one could simply nuke the enemy. In the film Zim ordered Hendricks to be a target to have a knife thrown at him.

But in the book Zim responded by waxing poetic about how war is controlled violence for a purpose, not just to kill and break things. It's important to realize that when ST was written this was actually major policy debate in the US. At the time, the Strategic Air Command was pushing for the concept of basically bombing anyone to the Stone Age who dared to opposed us. Heinlein's commentary that this was dumb was very much on point.

Verhoeven of course was probably ignorant of this bit of US policy history and completely missed the point.

In fact, it's fair to say that a great deal of ST (the book) was social commentary on issues affecting the US in the mid 1950's.

What (good) sci fi isn't a contemporary social commentary?

Or for that matter any work of art?

I suppose the test of time is whether the social commentary bears any meaningful message ojtide of its historical context.

Aside from military preparedness, Heinlein critiqued the weakness of democracy in responding quickly and effectively to an aggressive foe with centralized command. He also recognized that foes often use peace as preparation for war.

What of his proposal to limit citizenship to discharged veterans? Universal suffrage may not necessarily be a viable way to form a government in the long run. Indeed, until the 1940s, totalitarianism seemed to be on the rise. Lincoln was introspective at Gettysburg about whether a certain 87 year experiment could be called a success. Are we certain America is a successful model?

Absent "total threat" it is all pretty ridiculous. As I say above, the cold war of the 50s might have seemed like total threat, with reason ... but that's a long time ago. Now we prepare for Wars even we think are unlikely (can we fight our Walmart supplier?)

Que? "Now we prepare for Wars even we think are unlikely (can we fight our Walmart supplier?)"

You are Jan Gotlib Bloch, and I'd like to claim my 5 pounds right now before war-related inflation from the next go-around makes them worthless.

I just mean that when you are 5 unlikely steps from conventional war with China, it is pretty dumb to fund preparation for conventional war with China. We still got nukes, right?

"What (good) sci fi isn’t a contemporary social commentary?"

Well, then it might be non-dated commentary on any of a vast variety of topics that can crop up in this cosmos other than society. One issue I wish Starship Troopers had dwelled on much more is Alien Bug Monsters. Since they are much more interesting and lets face it, of more contemporary importance, than the Vietnam war.

He missed the whole zombie and "SHTF" thing. It is the enemy within that drives our AR15 purchase!

Reports of mma's brutality are very often exaggerated. I've trained for ~4 years and while I've never had any amateur or pro fights I've had plenty of sparring and grappling experience. Honestly? I got worse injuries playing soccer in high school. Even a concussion or two, which as of yet I've avoided in mma (getting hit with gloves is a lot softer than ramming heads with another player). The stoppage rules in bouts are safer for long term brain health than boxing, since you don't get a standing count to recover just enough from concussions to keep going and keep getting hit. Submissions aren't that dangerous either; the point of a choke or a limblock isn't to actually put someone to sleep or break their limbs, it's to force a tap. They can actually do those things, but it's a rarity. Limbs generally get broken due to stubbornness, and while blood chokes can put someone to sleep very quickly, there's no danger to the brain if it's released in time. Also, no such thing as a cobra strangle.

That being said there are probably long term brain risks like any contact sport, but they don't justify singling out of mma vs. football or whatever just because of the poor optics of 'kid fights'

I've thought about this before. Frankly, if one's kid is interested in fighting there is no reason not to steer them towards jiu jitsu or judo, which have proven methods for creating healthy environments for young trainees and, indeed, give kids techniques that would serve them well if they decided, once they'd come of age, to take up MMA.

If parents insist on allowing their children to do MMA training, though, these traditional forms have to be mined for inspiration regarding the psychological techniques required for making sure that kids are safe. I fear, though, that the kind of parent who does this is liable to be the kind of parent who wants their boy/girl to be the Baddest Kid in the Playground and would give no more thought to their mental health than to Pythagoras's theorum.

The article, though, is definitely exaggerated. Three million kids doing pankration? The UFC would kill to get three million viewers, and most of them are too out of shape to do anything more athletic than walk to the grocery store.

I've never done a contact sport, (though I did sometimes bat without a box). I have only trained in Kung Fu. Because it is not a sport, we keep things safe. If you get hit in the head it's not inevitable, it was your fault.

As a just-teenaged boy at the time, the part of Starship Troopers that resonated most strongly with me was the boobs in the co-ed showers.

What resonated for me was that the female gropos didnt sacrifice their femininity.

I was, at first, a bit put off by Dizzy being female, but Dina Meyer pulled it off well.

Boob display was the one thing Verhoeven did well throughout most of his films.

#4) Technically that is a barge-shipping ship.

I'm surprised that that is the best way to ship barges. How much do you save over simply letting each barge drive itself? Labor costs to run a ship must be big I guess.

Barges don't drive themselves. They are pushed, or in this case, carried. For over-ocean transport, pushing them may not be feasible since barges aren't build for ocean travel (or maybe great-lake travel).

1b. I can assure you that we seat by appearance in North America as well. Always put the pretty people in tables by the window. I learned this from one of my first bosses, and this was not high end at all.

I made a some money arbing intrade contracts the night of the 2004 election, but it became obvious later there just wasn't a lot of volume.

I know what Paul Verhoeven was trying to do with that assinine movie. Believe me, I get it.

The important thing is: he failed. Intent is not outcome, and Verhoeven's particular brand of wallowing in the much while denouncing it at the same time is a very tough thing to pull off. "Robocop" succeeded. "Total Recall" was a mixed bag. "Showgirls" was a catastrophe. And "Troopers" wasn't far behind.

Oh, look, it's satire! Yeah, but saying "satire" doesn't make a bad movie into a good one. And "Starship Troopers" was a very, very bad movie.

Perhaps the movie would have gone down better if it had been titled, "A Satire of Heinlein's 'Starship Troopers.' "

Of course no one expects every movie made from a novel to be a straightforward adaptation of the novel. BUT when the movie just flips the novel upside-down then perhaps some explanation (or truth in titleing) is called for?

(#4) But are they shipping Buffalo Buffalo?

No, they just buffalo them.

Who knew that barges were stackable?

Those barges might not be finished. They don't look like they have their wheelhouses installed. I'm impressed that so many can be loaded onto a ship.

#3 but applied economics is in the middle of the pack

"Huh? The movie writers weren’t even passingly familiar with the book, which is why I still think the people who claim it’s satire are the ones who don’t get it."

"....he is exactly wrong that the film was of Heinlein barely recognized their beloved book, and non-Heinlein fans found no enjoyment in the puckish satire. The best part of ST was the casting and special effects."

"Starship Troopers (the book) essentially was about Heinlein’s personal beliefs but Verhoeven failed to comprehend them. For example, take the infamous knife-throwing scene...."

"The important thing is: he failed. ... 'Showgirls' was a catastrophe."

Are these comments themselves satirical? That's what I want to know. The idea that there is a legion of Heinlein fans out there with hurt feelings because Verhoeven used ST for his own purposes, seems kind of crazy. I can understand Tolkien fans with hurt feelings, because the LOTR movies are supposed to be faithful to the novel, and are even widely perceived as having been successful at that. But c'mon, no matter how much you love ST the novel, I think you have to let go at some point. It's not like there's a lot of film adaptations of good novels that are going to make true lovers of those novels happy. Maybe some of the BBC mini-series things, where you have 6 or 12 or even more hours to tell the story, but that's about it.

The linked piece about ST is overwrought and silly ("The resulting film critiques the military-industrial complex, the jingoism of American foreign policy, and a culture that privileges reactionary violence over sensitivity and reason."), but you have to love the fact that so many film critics didn't get the joke. When I saw the film at the time, I had read a couple of reviews of the film and was immediately shocked, because the satirical elements (at least some of them) aren't even that subtle. Given that Verhoeven had made Robocop just a few years earlier, you'd think that people would have been ready for a repeat of the same sort of thing.

Take the knife-throwing scene (spoiler alert!). I don't know what it was in the novel, but in the movie it's just a gag. (How to stop someone from nuking you: disable their button-pressing hand with a knife! A point that requires an explicit demonstration of technique). Take the end of the film, the "It's afraid!"/[big cheer] bit. That's a gag too. The whole "burial at sea" scene is really just a gag too, at least to me. Personally, I think all of these are pretty funny - the weakest thing about the film is having to wade through the generic dreary special effects scenes to get to the funny parts, but perhaps without those the studio execs might have figured out what Verhoeven was up to and shut him down. (How else were the critics not signalled?) And maybe PV thought they were endlessly funny anyway.

Every Heinlein fan who is upset at ST the film should watch the David Schmader commentary of Showgirls (another satire of a self-satirical subject), because then at least they'd start to understand where their adversary is coming from.

Never read the book, never saw the movie: but in light of all the discussion here, who was representing Heinlein's estate to permit the kind of usurpation that the filmmakers seem to've perpetrated? The rights were sold without regard for how the work would be adapted, or by whom (again, from the comments, by a director and/or screenwriter who never even read the entire novel)? Sounds like Heinlein's literary executor is not getting due credit for the film adaptation.

The villain here might have been Robert A. Heinlein.

His books -- not Starship Troopers -- were often of fairly hardcore libertarian ilk. The dude might have quite enjoyed the idea of holywood
muhgals bastardising literature for profit. His most likely objection is that a faithful reproduction would have sold better.

Yes, there is a legion of outraged fans of Heinlein.

Albigensian understands: PH did not adapt the book for the screen, he turned it on its head.

How would you feel about Sinclair Lewis' The Jungle being adapted into a pro-capitalism, pro-Big Food propaganda piece?

How about Grapes of Wrath as anti-immigrant? Huckleberry Finn as pro-slavery? Handmaiden's Tale as anti-abortion?

I can be just as upset about those perversions without necessarily being a fan of the works or the authors.

This isnt a matter of merely being disappointed in the shortcomings of an adaptation. Whoever said that the executors of Heinlein's estate blew it on creative control was correct.

P.s. Verhoeven should take a look at present day Detroit for an object lesson to rebut his socialist Robocop satire. The city depserately needs a corporate buyer and robot cops.

6. In order to protect people's gaskets from being blown, I think it is very important to pretend that the movie is not called 'Starship Troopers' and that it has absolutely nothing to do with Robert Heinlein. Perhaps imagine it has a nice old school Doctor Who title like, 'Terror of the Bugs' or something like that. That way the movie can be judged on whatever merits it may have as a completely seperate entity from the book. Personally I was well entertained by the movie, but then I'm not a fan of action movies that take themselves seriously on account of how I once read part of a physics book and as a result, rather than being willingly suspended, my disbelief tends to end up on the floor.

One can always hope for a remake. It seems that's all Hollywood does anymore.

The problem is, that the average Dr. Who episode is boring.

(In fairness, I am not talking about the new Dr. Who. That might be ***ing fantastic. But I only have significant amount of data about the old stuff).

Adrian, I very much agree with you that classic Doctor Who can be very boring. The old episodes really need a fan who understands modern pacing to edit them. The new Doctor Who is not boring. It's more focused on gaining enough speed to make it over holes in the plot. One thing I've watched a bit of this year is Columbo and while it is often astoundingly boring, I did find it interesting as a history lesson and also for the social commentary. Is there any show today that has the theme that the rich and powerful are not above the law and the system works in catching those who act as though they are?

The satirical elements are much weaker if it's just a random movie about Space-Nazis fighting aliens, the whole point is that it's a satire of Right-Wing Science Fiction, taking the most "libertarian" author in the cannon and highlighting how little has to be changed about his attitude to end up with Triumph of The Will (in terms of the basic structure of the setting and story, obviously the aesthetics are unsubtle). I mean, all the butthurt Randroids who crawl out of the woodwork to complain that the movie is so unfair, in the books the military really *are* wise and competent philosopher-kings, are a vital part of the movie's impact. It's much less funny without them.

Wahh Wahh, Verhoeven compared our fantasy society which took warrior-hood as it's highest ideal to a real country that did the same thing, clearly he didn't read the book; Waaah where's our Riefenstahl directed HBO miniseries with real anime robots.

1. My goodness! I just read the article on Pankration which I put off because I thought it was a village in the English north. In this thread we're arguing over whether or not Starships Troopers is satire but I really, really hope that article is some sort of satire on American culture. Crikey, in Australia it's not even legal to pay adult homeless people to beat each other up let alone get seven year olds to do it. (And they don't even get paid for the spectacle.)

Given how many google results there are for fighting competitions in Australia, I find this implausible.

#6: While the satire in the movie is memorable, especially gung-ho nature of recruiting for war, the ugliness of war is largely absent of emotional content in the movie. People die - lots of people die - but it has little emotional impact. I watched it somewhat like a video game due to lack of connection to any of the characters. My overwhelming impression of the movie was a campy romp empty of much meaning.

# 6 I still remember the line in Starshp Troopers when one of the student makes a comment about the Arachnids just being bugs and the teacher responds back, that bugs don't build starships!

Then I'm watching the movie and realize they are just bugs according to the movie. The movie was just mindless drivel. Apparently the bugs spat asteroids across interstellar space. How does that work again?

I agree with the comments above that, sadly, one of the best parts of the movie was the shower scene. The book was a Hugo award winner and the movie had Doogie Howser as a psychic Nazi (really Verhoeven just ripped off Warhammer 40k).

How did the bugs get an asteroid to earth? I have no idea. I also have no idea how the humans managed to get to the bug planets. It should have taken like forever. But getting an asteroid to hit earth across interstellar space does seem odd, so maybe it wasn't the bugs that dropped the asteroid on Rio De Janeiro...

You literally cannot read Heinlein's book properly without making yourself aware of the historical context in which he wrote it, which probably explains how so many misunderstand it- history is hard.

As for the movie, the satire should have been obvious to anyone with an IQ above 90. Though I saw the movie the weekend it opened in theaters, I don't really remember the reviews it received at the time, and I may not have even read them. However, I doubt the reviewers actually missed that it was satire. Indeed, you can't go to a Verhoeven film and not understand what you are sitting down for if you are a film critic- surely the reviewers had seen Robocop and Total Recall.

As for me, I have always been of two minds about this movie- had I never read the Heinlein novel, I would say that Starship Troopers was a truly brilliant satire- certainly the equal of Robocop. However, the impact for me is a bit muted because I feel Verhoeven really didn't understand the novel he was satirizing. Over time, I have been able to separate the the movie and the novel from my feelings, and my opinion of the movie has only increased over the years.

6. Seriously? No one recognized the over-the-top jingoism as satire? Slaughtering pacifists is peaceful?

I'm not sure he even saw the movie.

Regarding Pankration
There have been many recent sensational articles recently giving the impression that kids are competing in professional type MMA. In every one of these, including the Daily Mail article, they are actually participating in FILA Pankration. The sport is sanctioned and governed by FILA, the same organization that governs Olympic Wrestling. There are many rules to make it a safe and fun sport for kids but perhaps the most notable one is that there are no strikes allowed to the head. The risk to young athletes for concussive and subconcussive injuries is greater in Soccer than it is in Pankration.

Anyone interested in learning more about the sport can visit the main FILA webpage for information on the international sport or for information about the sport as it's regulated in the US.

I would have thought that anyone with an IQ over 75 would pick up on Starship Troopers being satire. Unfortunately, anyone with an IQ over 80 would find it much too broad, so you're looking at a narrow window.

One thing you'll notice is that Verhoeven cheats more than a little bit to turn it into a satire. His characters are so militarized already that they have virtually no difficulty going into the military, while Heinlein's characters have quite a bit of difficulty socializing and adjusting to their new position in the world. His version of Earth has no history or visible politics which might have led them into the current state of affairs -- again, a strength of the Heinlein novel. The destruction of Rio de Janeiro, which kicks off the war, has no emotional resonance in the movie -- I don't think the main character spends more than about five seconds being upset about this.

And, of course, the ultimate cheat is that Heinlein's novel was written in the late '50s, when excessive pacifism had abetted German rearmament and Japanese militarization, when rapid demilitarization had accompanied the subjugation of Eastern Europe, when the Communists had taken over China with barely any involvement from the free nations of the world. Whereas Verhoeven's movie was made in the 1990s during the "end of history," after the Soviet Union had fallen without a shot and there were no clearly identifiable rivals to liberal democracy.

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