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Starship Stormpoopers

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  • Starship Stormpoopers

    I have been reading the debate over Heinlein's Starship Troopers book.
    I have not read the book and only half watched the movie.
    I didnt even give it a second thought until Mike mentioned Heinlien's book encouraged Xenophobia.

    When I half saw the movie I assumed that it was some kind of parody
    of the way that the politics of war and military often seem to work
    and therefore I thought it was if anything harmless or even illustrative
    of repulsive war propaganda, warning of xenophobia etc.

    So I dug a bit deeper and saw a large amounts of critiscm on Wikipedia
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Starship_Troopers
    Yet the guy even won a hugo for the work!

    So my question is this, how can we know when we are or are not being
    duped and the writer is or is not using some kind of device to demonstrate
    when something is immoral/racist/sexist/antisemtic/xenophobic and when instead they are promoting these views.
    There must be signs, but I think I miss them, perhaps I assume too easily that people have the best of intentions
    and similar views to myself.
    Last edited by Tales from Tanelorn; 10-04-2006, 12:44 PM.

  • #2
    A little more complex .......

    In short, Heinlein is not racist..... He wrote a book " double star " against racism ............

    He is a libertarian .

    But Heinlein is nationalist, militarist and elitist. He was pro vietnam war Ad Starship troopers is a book of propaganda for militarism ........

    Starship troopers is well written ........

    If you want to comparate, read the forever war by Haldeman who is a book denouncing war militarism and imperialism.

    Comment


    • #3
      Here's a whole page about Starship Troopers:

      http://www.kentaurus.com/troopers.htm
      'You know, I can't keep up with you. If I hadn't met you in person, I quite honestly would NOT believe you really existed. I just COULDN'T. You do so MUCH... if half of what goes into your zines is to be believed, you've read more at the age of 17 than I have at the age of 32 - LOTS more'

      Archie Mercer to Mike (Burroughsania letters page, 1957)

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      • #4
        I never read the book, but I happen to like the movie very much, primarily because I think the original poster hit it on the head - it may not be a "parody" but it certainly puts those militaristic, xenophobic views in a ridiculous light (where they belong). I love the tone with which Verhoeven presented the story, and I have a feeling it's virtually the opposite of Heinlein's. I thought the movie turned a lot of things on their heads - the people you're "supposed" to root for are clearly fascists (I love the whole exchange about how only soldiers can be considered citizens), and it seems pretty clear that Earth started the war with the "bug planet," so the bugs were somewhat justified in their response... anyone who watches the movie and is still rooting for the earth people at the end has missed a few things, I think. Kinda like people who are still voting republican these days have missed a few things, I think...

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        • #5
          I only saw Verhoeven's movie. I didn't find any racist clue, on the contrary.
          Free the West Memphis Three

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          • #6
            Originally posted by Mespheber
            I only saw Verhoeven's movie. I didn't find any racist clue, on the contrary.
            "Xenophobic" then, perhaps?
            _"For an eternity Allard was alone in an icy limbo where all the colours were bright and sharp and comfortless.
            _For another eternity Allard swam through seas without end, all green and cool and deep, where distorted creatures drifted, sometimes attacking him.
            _And then, at last, he had reached the real world – the world he had created, where he was God and could create or destroy whatever he wished.
            _He was supremely powerful. He told planets to destroy themselves, and they did. He created suns. Beautiful women flocked to be his. Of all men, he was the mightiest. Of all gods, he was the greatest."

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            • #7
              Yep, but using "aliens" appears to me as a good way to criticize racism. Also, did you notice that there are white people everywhere in the movie, even in Buenos Aires?

              But most of all, there is Denise Richards.
              Free the West Memphis Three

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              • #8
                Hmm... The image of Denise Richards is dstracting me as I write this...

                I think the film didn't take itself seriously, as Heinlein surely did. His romanticized notion of a militarized society may not accurately capture any of his own political stances, but it certainly puts that idea out there.

                If I can compare it to Behold, The Man:

                Mike's tone in BTM captures Karl's uncertainty, misery, and self-discovery. Neither Mike nor Karl belittle Christanity's foundations, and neither of them revel in its fictional explosion of that foundation. It would be easy to dismiss BTM as stridently anti-Christian, but that would overlook the admiration for Christian ideals that Karl's death reveals. Mike lets readers in on the layers he is uncovering.

                Heinlein celebrated and glorified the violence of a militaristic society. He was over-the-top, but his tone is quite serious, a sharp contrast to the film's campiness. I think Heinlein is a skilled enough writer to let us in on the joke if he is attempting satire. The movie certainly created it, perhaps poking fun at Heinlein's earnestness.

                In short, tone matters. Writers (or filmmakers, for that matter) let us know when they are making statements. Are some of these buried or shaded? Certainly. However, the messages in something like Stormship Troopers are not subtle.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by Doc
                  His romanticized notion of a militarized society may not accurately capture any of his own political stances,
                  It captures several of his political stances quite well; notably his belief that citizenship should not be a right, but have to be earned.

                  That said, it should be remembered that he did aim the book at 14 year olds which is probably why it is so heavy handed. I have very little respect for Heinlein (I hate Stranger in a Strange Land), but even I would not blame him for the actual tone of that book.

                  I love the film. It is clearly satirical and very funny. The first time I saw it, I laughed out loud quite a lot. As an aside, I once saw it with a couple of friends who are ex-paratroopers: They also laughed out loud quite a lot. However, they were mostly laughing at the tactics employed by the MI which they loudly criticized ("Why are they moving in a blob!" "What does he think that hand signal means!"). I am not sure that the rest of the audience found it as entertaining as I did.

                  Anybody remember the Starship Troopers wargame with all the little cardboard counters? I thought it was great, but could never get anybody to play with me

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by johneffay
                    It captures several of his political stances quite well; notably his belief that citizenship should not be a right, but have to be earned.
                    I should clarify and say I certainly agree with you. I was trying my best to seem a bit measured in my response. I'm not always successful

                    Originally posted by johneffay
                    That said, it should be remembered that he did aim the book at 14 year olds which is probably why it is so heavy handed. I have very little respect for Heinlein (I hate Stranger in a Strange Land), but even I would not blame him for the actual tone of that book.
                    The obvious aspect that I didn't consider. I was allowing for the possiblilty of subtext to a book written with almost nothing under its surface. I think I can agree with this.

                    Originally posted by johneffay
                    Anybody remember the Starship Troopers wargame with all the little cardboard counters? I thought it was great, but could never get anybody to play with me
                    The next time I'm in town..

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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by johneffay
                      Anybody remember the Starship Troopers wargame with all the little cardboard counters? I thought it was great, but could never get anybody to play with me
                      johneffay,

                      I remember that game, but I never bought it. I used to see it all the time in a local game store.

                      It looked like it might have been fun, it was right next to Starfleet Battles.

                      "With a deep, not-unhappy sigh, Elric prepared to do battle with an army." (Red Pearls)
                      - Michael Moorcock

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                      • #12
                        I don't see xenophobia as much as a sincere hatred of bugs- particularly the bugs that bombed Buenos Aires. And he, like many, simply wanted people who paid attention and took citizenship seriously enough to put their actual butts on the line for the right to vote. Sure, he took it over the top. You do that in fiction, sometimes.

                        As for the Veerhoven film, barely tolerable, fair F/X. I much preferred the CGI-animated Starship Troopers: The Roughneck Chronicles (available on DVD). Neither one really got Heinlein's ferocity. RAH used small nukes freely, and not one person could be considered very "nice".

                        A better comparison than Forever War might be Orson Scott Card's Ender's Game. Both have wars against bugs (or "buggers"), to quite different result.

                        Heinlein had every intent to be a career Naval officer, then got booted due to poor health. Taken with this particular grain of salt, his stories and ideas are more palatable. After all, Tom Clancy is not in the military, but writes about it very well. (Just read The Cardinal of the Kremlin, one I'd previously missed, and found it the perfect follow-up to The Hunt for Red October, just before the flights of fancy to some CIA guy becoming President. As if THAT could ever happen!)
                        Miqque
                        ... just another sailor on the seas of Fate, dogpaddling desperately ...

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                        • #13
                          In fact, whan I first saw the movie, I wasn't sure the meteor was sent by bugs and i really wondered if it wasn't just an excuse to exterminate this species to conquer their worlds. Weird, it rings some kind of bell in our recent history...
                          Free the West Memphis Three

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                          • #14
                            I'm going to have to make a somewhat embarrassing admission.

                            Up until recently, I was a huge Heinlein fanboy. Only when I started getting into deeper, more independent reading into philosophy and ethics, did I start questioning the assumptions I had made.

                            I started reading Heinlein at about fourteen, and it was Starship Troopers. Now, at the time I was quite militaristic, having been in the Royal Canadian Air Cadets. I loved it. I was a Heinlein fan from then on.

                            But I have realized that Heinlein's writings are completely ridiculous. The fact that many of the most ridiculous of his writings are juvenile novels leads me to wonder if he sought to indoctrinate testosterone-drunk young boys into his right wing bourgeois ubermensch ideology. It's an incredibly easy thing to convince an immature male to adopt. It's hard to deny that what drove Heinlein to write was a desire to "save the world", as evidenced by "For Us, The Living". It's just that after that initial failure, he figured out how to slip his metanarratives in without anyone knowing.

                            As I got older, I started to wonder why Heinlein was espousing such crap. I rationalized it by telling myself that he just wrote a story from a certain point of view with a certain voice, and that didn't reflect what he truly thought.

                            But I highly doubt that now. It was done without any irony whatsoever, and he says the same things in many of his other books. The worst part about it is that he tries to convince you that he's anti-authoritarian while he spews his Ayndroid filth. At first glance, Heinlein appears to play with many different, opposing ideas but in the end, it looks like the same garbage all the same.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              More complex ..... Heinlein is a libertarian before the word be created .......

                              He is a logical libertarian, for instance, for naturism and sexual liberation.

                              His best book from this point of view is the moon is a harsh mistress

                              But he has the contradictions of such an ideology.

                              He is against racism ( double star ) and against church governement or ideological domination ( revolt in 2100 stranger in a strange land )

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