We had no idea, but Paul Verhoeven’s Starship Troopers is a film that has had a major influence of the oeuvre of Fenton Bailey and Randy Barbato. Perhaps you’ve seen it. If you haven’t (and if you have, why not again?), they’re presenting it next Thursday at 7:30 (we’ll remind you) as part of the Skirball Cultural Center’s Cinema’s Legacy series (details). It’s quite prestigious. Past presenters have included Carl Franklin with Chinatown, David O Russell with The 400 Blows, Rob Reiner with On the Waterfront, and Lawrence Kasdan with Out of the Past.
We were curious, so we asked Fenton, Why Starship Troopers exactly? And he said:
It’s a film all about terrorism. Intergalactic terrorism, but terrorism nonethless.The terrorists are bugs. Sub-human cretinous creatures that deserve to be stamped out in the name of freedom. Just like today’s terrorists. And enlisted in this crusade are the young and the beautiful: Bruce Weber’s Abercrombie and Fitch crew, fetishistically fabulous in post-modern fashionista uniforms.
It’s set in the future where human technology is even more awesome than it is today; amazing spaceships, video phone calls, artificial skin knitted by droids. You name it, the human race has it. But “it” isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. The interactive news, for example, is about as fair and balanced as it ever was. It’s Drudge Dredd: bigotted, trivial, incendiary, and, like all propoganda, not really true.
Because the fact is that in spite of our technological superiority we are having our butts kicked by a bunch of bugs who live in a barren desert not all that dissimilar to the Middle East. Instead of oil, these critters have plasma and rectums filled with it. With their geyser-like farts, we are led to believe they are able to send meteorites ricocheting around the universe with the precision of smart bombs, taking out entire cities.
And so the stage is set for us, the good guys, to mastermind a genocide of these godless evil-doers in revenge for the destruction of Buenos Aires.
Starship Troopers is a parable of our times with many uncomfortable parallels. But rather like Team America, Swimming With Sharks, and Happiness, Starship Troopers cuts a little too close to the bone. When it was released, the industrio-entertainment complex closed ranks, preventing it from penetrating the zeitgeist.
(Want more? Go to Planet Pop for a review of Starship Troopers written at the time of its release)