When Neil Patrick Harris, in full Nazi regalia, declares, "It's afraid!" to rousing, exuberant applause, you should have understood. And that fact that so few people seem to have apprehended this as wrong, that so few people understand that "killing them all" is not a reasonable solution, this is the ultimate punctuation of the profundity of Verhoeven's endeavor. Starship Troopers, beneath all of its transparent cliches and its derivative action sequences, its tepid romance and its excessive gore, is an ironic celebration of fascism. Its intent is at once to illustrate the easy fall of malleable youth into darkness, and to mock the ever-present stimulations of that "biological" precondition that draws upon us all to embrace death for "the state," for an abstraction, for some sucking nothing.
Verhoeven's astounding, masterful work of hyperbole is, sadly, wasted on the objects of his disdain, who, wholly inculcated into the insidious proto-fascism of the action genre and of, Verhoeven might say, the modern political climate in general, find something sour about what DejaMorgana understood as "a straight war movie." But I did not need Verhoeven to tell me in his own words what this movie meant, I could see that for myself. Indeed, whether or not Verhoeven himself even realized what he was saying with this work, it was still there, all of it; often enough, the writer or artist is wholly unconscious of the end message of his work, but that message remains, unrevised by the artist's explication of what he thought he was doing, what he thought he had created. In this instance, we are very fortunate: Paul Verhoeven knows damn well what he's done with this film.
Paul Verhoeven: The voice you are hearing here, now, is Paul Verhoeven, the director of Starship Troopers.
Ed Neumeier: And this is Ed Neumeier, the writer of Starship Troopers.
DejaMorgana: It has been suggested that Verhoeven's version of "Troopers" was meant to be a parody of some sort. However, this idea is not supported...
PV: And we are here in the middle of controversy, immediately. It’s interesting, I’m quoting here, an article of Richard Schickel in Time Magazine. Who said that... maybe, (Starship Troopers is) saying that war inevitably makes fascists of us all. Then of course he says that his best guess is that the filmmakers didn’t think about anything like that at all, because they were only concerned about special effects. But I can tell you that the movie is, in fact, in our opinion, stating that war makes fascists of us all.
EN: It’s true, that was the theme. And this opening was modeled on the “Why We Fight” films of WWII, in fact this whole movie is modeled on propaganda films made during WWII.
PV: Yeah, they’re propaganda films from, the, uh, American propaganda films, and of course there’s also clearly a disguised statement about... about propaganda films of the Third Reich. In fact it’s saying of course that this fascist propaganda that is kind of apparent in the movie should be really read, at least that’s how we meant it, should be read as something that is not good. So whenever you see something that you think is fascist, you should know that the makers coincide with your opinion, thinking that it is not good. That is not a good statement, this is not good politics, and if you see a black uniform you should also know BAD! BAD! BAD! You know, it’s very simple, you should not read it any differently than that: we all agree with that, it’s bad. If you see Carl later in a black uniform, and when he makes certain statements, then you know that it’s bad.
"Violence, naked force, has resolved more issues in history than has any other factor, and the contrary opinion is wishful thinking at its worst."
PV: At the point where we are now, where he says that violence is the supreme authority that solves everything, which is of course questioned by Dizzy but then of course not accepted by him. You could of course say that, that these kind of statements are not so much going back to the Third Reich, I would say, but they are much more statements about American politics. I mean the whole movie is about the United States, ALL statements are about the United States. It’s not... or, any superpower for that sake, you know you could say as well for Russia ten years ago, or for China in the future, or, or... or for Germany in the past. But, it’s certainly also talking about American politics now, so it is really saying that, as we have perceived in the last 20, 30 years, that there is a tendency in American politics that if people disagree that we will use power, and violence--I mean it’s very apparent now in the conflict with Iraq, but also clear in any conflict in the Middle East, especially the overthrow of Iran’s government before the Shah, or, I... There‘re multiple examples of course, if it’s Panama or Vietnam, it’s just the idea that power and violence is always used at certain moments when things take too much time to solve in a more democratic way. And I think that’s what the movie, the statements, the political statements of the movie are about.
EN: Although it's probably pretty good that we went on and did show a battle, because I think that the audience for this movie also desperately wants the battle to start--
PV: But that would mean that the audience is fascist, Ed. That you... you cannot presume that.
EN: But.... But these, these films always evoke that in the audience, don’t they?
PV: I don’t know, of course it plays with, what you said in the beginning, that biologically fascist elements are perhaps available in the human species.
DejaMorgana: Powered armour is every teenaged geek's wet dream.
Starship Troopers is the story of an exhilarating and entirely unnecessary war. It is an action movie, and a mockery of all action movies. Its methods are as hackneyed and hopelessly transparent as George W. Bush's declaration of the presence of some "Axis of Evil" that must be either undermined or annihilated.
Last night, I had dinner with a gentleman who works in American military intelligence. Over lasagna and asparagus he sighed about the increasing difficulty of pressuring the Iraqi government; so many protesters on so many front pages of so many newspapers, this would strengthen Saddam Hussein's resolve. A united front, he said, a united front is what we need if we are to achieve our goals. And so it is for those whose job it is to make a nation "more powerful": that iron, awesome, picturesque manifestation of democracy, a motley throng of people with voices, this is and will always be an obstacle impeding the achievement of military goals, while at the same time redeeming humanity in as much as is attainable. "War inevitably makes fascists of us all," Paul Verhoeven tells us. And it is the intoxication of war that we cannot cease to love, for some biological inclination. And once war has begun, in order for there to be any complete application of a nation to war, in order for there to be a maximization of military strength, democracy, first, must die.
Quotes from the DVD, which I highly recommend.