Verhoeven Says A Trump-Era Starship Troopers Reboot Is Dangerous

It's to be expected that any successful (or even cult-classic) movie be eyed for a reboot, and director Paul Verhoeven is no stranger to that concept, having seen his own "Robocop" remade in 2014.  The acclaimed filmmaker is taking issue with the Columbia Pictures' in-production remake of his 1997 satire "Starship Troopers," however, not because he thinks it's superfluous, but because he believes the remake, as descried by the studio, could help promote legitimately dangerous ideologies.

As reported by the L.A. Times, Verhoeven spoke out against the remake at the Film Society of Lincoln Center’s retrospective of his work. “It said in the article [that] the production team of that movie of the remake, that they would go back more and more toward the novel, and, of course, we really, really tried to get away from the novel, because we felt that the novel was fascistic and militaristic.”

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Verhoeven is referring to Robert Heinlein's Hugo Award winning 1959 novel "Starship Troopers," a story that illustrates how a fascistic government could perpetuate war in order to functionally govern its people. Of course, the context of 1959 was very different than today; Heinlein's exploration of fascism came at a time when world governments (such as Italy, Nazi Germany, and post-Feudal Japan) had just tried and failed to make fascism work. Heinlein saw the emerging popularity of Communism as a real threat, and presented a future where humans united, instead, against the danger of aggressive, bug-like aliens.

Pointing to the currently-changing global context, Verhoeven pulled no punches in pointing to the United States' president-elect as the epicenter of his distaste for the remake, saying, "You feel that going back to the novel would fit very much in a Trump presidency." He added, "We are living in a very interesting, or you can call it scary times, and of course you would like to do something about it too, but I think if you go too directly into the now, you have no distance."

Fascism functions when a government can unite its people around a common perceived threat. This was the Jewish People for Nazi Germany, or the Bugs in Heinlein's original novel. Verhoeven is raising concerns that the divisive rhetoric of the recent U.S. Presidential campaign is coming far too close to these examples for comfort. The original film had an absurdist meta-humor aspect to it, criticizing the society it was portraying. Here, he raises an interesting point; remakes and reboots aren't necessarily bad things, but they should to evolve to reflect the changing world.

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