Reviews Comments: The movie may be satire, but it's BAD satire.
The movie may be satire, but it's BAD satire.
Paul Verhoeven's "Starship Troopers" is an incredibly stupid movie. It may be stupid on purpose, but it's still stupid. Done in the style of a gung-ho war movie and "Triumph of the Will"-esque military propaganda, the director claims that it was intended to criticize the attitudes it portrays. However, you can't satirize an idea by simply presenting that idea in the exact same way that its proponents do! Starship Troopers the film runs afoul of the generalized Poes Law; it won't be perceived as ironic because there are other people saying the exact same thing that actually mean it. The military's horrible failure may have been intended as a criticism of Hollywood Tactics, but the fact is that there is nothing at all to distinguish the "satirical" use from the many other stupid movies in which armies lose because they're being idiots who really, really should have known better. The "bugs", as they are portrayed, could probably have been beaten by an army using equipment from the American Civil War, and they'd be helpless in the face of machine guns and artillery pieces from World War 1. There is such a thing as bad satire, and the difference between a stupid movie and a movie that's stupid on purpose because it's "satire" is that there is no difference◊. Anyone who thinks the movie is clever is watching the movie Verhoeven wanted to make, rather than the movie he actually did make.
Reviews like this make me sad, because the reviewer is too stupid to know when something is stupid or not, but insists on telling us something is stupid because he can't understand it.
comment #2187 iwintheinternets? 9th Apr 10
" Anyone who thinks the movie is clever is watching the movie Verhoeven wanted to make" So all of France was wrong all along?
comment #2190 Glowsquid 9th Apr 10
Thank god we have people such as yourself reviewing works. You are so opend minded and accepting of compex ideas within outwardly simplistic scenarios, and you totally get that satire is not only related to just one thing, it can also stretch across a wide range of inter-related subjects. I am of course speaking sarcastically and have nothing but bad things to say about this review.
comment #2238 iwintheinternets? 13th Apr 10
I think he's at least, partly right. I thought it was a cop out for the director to claim the whole thing was a satire. The movie was basically a feature length example of Poe's law: Without a nod and a wink, the film feels like a straight up bad war movie that is So Bad Its Good, rather than a satire of bad war movies that is going for the so bad it's good angle on purpose. I don't have to believe the Director when he says it is a satire.
comment #2247 maninahat 13th Apr 10
It IS completely satirical, from the briefest line sof dialouge to the overarching themes. It is a parody of big budget action films, the original book it is based upon, the USA and of course, war, which Verhoeven hates with a passion, as we all do. You are saying the Verhoeven didnt make the satire obvious enough for you to understand. If that is true perhaps you should try Scary Movie, it might stimulate your intellectual grasp of satire a bit better.
comment #2254 iwintheinternets? 13th Apr 10
This is like saying that Stephen Colbert isn't good satire because there are conservatives that actually believe that he is the right-wing counterpart to liberal John Stewart. I have my criticisms of Starship Troopers, but they're of the lack of Humongous Mecha and the dumbness of some of the action sequences, not of the military propeganda... that's probably the best thing about the movie. That some people take it for a real attempt to glorify war says something about stupid people, not about this movie. When Doogie Hauser, S.S. says that the brain bug is scared, and everyone cheers us to the credits, it was the most hilarious thing they could've done. Classic!
comment #2260 Dracomicron 14th Apr 10
My view is that the situation would be like if the director of the Swartzeneggar movie Commando turning around and said his film was actually a straight up parody of action movies. That would be problematic because, well, who could deny it? Commando is that ridiculous and funny a movie that it could quite easily be a parody. When a satire or a parody becomes indistinguishable from the thing it is lampooning then its necessity should be called into question. Satire serves to illustrate the problems with a certain target. If a movie fails to be recognised as satirical, and the satire's message hasn't got across, then there is a problem. If people can plainly see the problem with the original target already, then the satire is unecessary: the target is already absurd enough to illustrate its own flaws.
comment #2271 maninahat 15th Apr 10
It is NOT indistinguishable from what it's making fun of, though. That's what's confusing me here. That '40s propaganda reel style is almost never used seriously nowendays. Even The Clone Wars cartoon uses it specifically as a throwback to World War Two.
comment #2272 Dracomicron 15th Apr 10
Starship Troopers is not in anyway indistinguishable form the thing it parodies. As Dracomicron said, the military propaganda (Would you like to know more?) was obviously a jab at war and specifically the american attitude towards it. Note how the humans are the ones who started the war, and how you can only become a citizen by joining in the war effort. In the third sequel (Its bad, don't bother with it) one interesting point of parody carries over, when they use religion to manipulate troops. Brilliant.
comment #2287 iwintheinternets? 16th Apr 10
The link is broken. The article is at: http://scienceblogs.com/pharyngula/2008/09/23/there-is-such-a-thing-as-bad-s/
comment #19151 Frank75 26th Apr 13
Having not seen the movie, I will just say that Colbert is pretty damn distinguishable from the people he's mocking and therefore a pretty bad argument to use. No matter how nutty the Fox News crowd get, you'll never hear them claim that they literally cannot distinguish between races, or that we should completely ignore our brains in favor of "truthiness".
comment #19161 Wackd 27th Apr 13
Thinking about it, the problem is that the internal logic of the film is on the side of the fascist humans rather than the bugs. After all, we do see the bugs annihilating soldiers. The protagonist's parents were murdered when the bugs launched an asteroid at his home town. It is heroic and cool for the protagonist to throw a grenade into a mammoth sized monster. Regardless of the joking asides made by the propaganda tv broadcasts, the main story arc and the presentation is still firmly on the soldier's side, with them as brave underdogs, fighting an onslaught of terrible, feral creatures. You could argue that it is a matter of perspective, but there is barely a hint of the bug's perspective beyond the suggestion we attacked them first (but who cares, because they are clearly feral, monstrous drones?) and that they can express emotion (only shown at the end, to illustrate the humans finally have the upper hand). No wonder people think this isn't a satire: it really isn't in terms of story, characters and setting. The satirical winks play no significant role in Rico's story arc, which is pretty much par for the course for action shlock. In better satires, the actual message of the satire will usually show through the cracks, and spill into the main story. Had we been shown a herd of docile bugs being slaughtered like cows, or seen some suggestion that these creatures could be intelligent and peaceful, the viewer might have seen them as the repressed masses they are meant to be (and thus, Rico as an unknowing agent of fascism).
comment #19187 maninahat 29th Apr 13
This movie isn't "bad" satire, it's brilliant satire. It plays everything exceedingly straight. So straight, in fact, that it becomes glaringly obvious how stupid the whole premise is. It portrays a society so extremely gung ho that it has become utterly devoid of rationality. There is no thought, only duty and kneejerk reactions. Kind of like a militaristic Idiocracy.
comment #19192 McSomeguy 29th Apr 13
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