A shot of the cover of Robert A. Heinlein's book Starship Troopers.

Space Fascists and Arachnophobia: What and Why is Starship Troopers?

By Ashton Herman
Web Content Contributor

A plethora of space-related films have been presented to the public, with each garnering a different response. From “Star Wars” to “Star Trek,” most, if not all sci-fi media seems to be held in such high regard. But if this is the case, then how did the film “Starship Troopers” land flat on its face at the box office? And more importantly, why is it coming back?

The iconic uniforms from the movie “Starship Troopers.” Image retrieved via Creative Commons.

To answer this question, one must start at the beginning of “Starship Troopers,” the novel by Robert A. Heinlein. In said novel, Heinlein focuses the narrative on promoting militarism, while at the same time, limiting the sci-fi to a somewhat realistic standard.

This book was picked up by director Paul Verhoeven. But instead of rolling with the somewhat controversial opinions of Heinlein, Verhoeven decided to create a satire on fascism.

This premise, however, did not land well upon arriving to theaters; many moviegoers failed to grasp the message behind the work, and as a result saw “Starship Troopers” as nothing more than a B-rated action film at best and a flick praising fascism at worst. The mentality of the soldiers, the garbs of the scientists and the lack of a true ending made for a hard-to-understand film.

That being said, the film only did poorly in America, and for good reason. The film is indeed mocking a fascist and warmongering society, but it is also mocking American society. Subtle details like the actors’ and actresses’ glamorous looks or the simplification/glorification of armed conflict ring true to modern-day military ads, and while the film addresses the fascist side of itself, it is these inclusions that ultimately gave off the wrong impression.

So why then is the film seeing a minor resurgence only now? Because its message can be applied to today; as it has been mentioned before, we as observers have the power of hindsight, and with it our society can come to understand and improve upon our past misjudgments.

“Starship Troopers” exemplified a time where our prowess knew no bounds, and with it came fatal errors. But now, we can take a little humility in our step as we flaunt around our nation’s greatness.

An ode to “Starship Troopers”; may we never grow too ignorant!

Featured image by Hadley Garland via Creative Commons.

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