Starship Troopers - Militarization to Fascism: Analyzing the Themes of the Film

11 April 2023
The film "Starship Troopers" (based on the novel by Robert A. Heinlein)  is a satirical take on fascist societies, which is evident in its portrayal of the themes of militarism and nationalism. While the movie presents a society that is heavily militarized and nationalistic, it does so in a way that exposes the dangers of these ideologies.

The film "Starship Troopers" portrays a 'civil' society where military service is mandatory to gain citizenship and full rights as a human.

How wrecked is that?

The film exaggerates this idea by portraying the military as not just a means of defending the country, but also the ultimate source of power in the society. This emphasis on the military is a common feature of fascist regimes, where the military is often used to enforce the government's will and suppress dissent.

In the movie, we see how the military is not only responsible for defending the society against the alien threat but is also involved in running the government. For instance, we see that even the civilian government officials are former military leaders, which highlights the extent to which the military has infiltrated all aspects of society.

Moreover, the film portrays the military as an institution that demands strict conformity and obedience from its members. We see this in the training sequences where the characters undergo intense physical and mental conditioning to prepare them for military service. The characters are expected to conform to a strict hierarchy and set of rules, and there is little room for individuality or critical thinking.

johhny rico starship troopers

One of the ways the movie exposes the dangers of militarism is by showing how it can lead to the erosion of individuality and critical thinking. For instance, the main character, Johnny Rico, initially joins the military because he wants to impress his girlfriend and friends. 

However, once he is in the military, he finds himself caught up in a system that demands absolute loyalty and conformity. He is expected to follow orders without question, and there is little room for independent thought or action:

Come on you apes, you wanna live forever?

The film also highlights the dehumanizing effects of military training, showing how the characters are transformed into mindless soldiers who are willing to do whatever it takes to win the war. For example, in one scene, we see the characters participating in a brutal training exercise that involves killing live ammunition targets. The exercise is designed to simulate real combat situations and prepare the soldiers for the harsh realities of war. 

However, it also shows how the characters are being trained to see their enemies as faceless, inhuman monsters, rather than as individuals with their own lives and experiences.

In "Starship Troopers" the war against the alien species known as the Arachnids is presented as a struggle for the survival of the human race. This framing is a common tactic used by fascist regimes to rally the populace behind the government and create a sense of national unity. However, the film takes this idea to an extreme by portraying the Arachnids as a faceless, monstrous threat, thus dehumanizing them and making it easier for the characters to justify their actions.

The film portrays the Arachnids as mindless and vicious creatures that pose an existential threat to humanity. They are depicted as a hive mind, with no individuality or capacity for reason. This portrayal reinforces the idea that the Arachnids are not just enemies, but an evil force that must be eradicated at any cost. The film also shows propaganda posters and newsreels that depict the Arachnids as a monstrous and terrifying threat, further reinforcing the idea that they are not just another species, but a demonic force that must be defeated.

This dehumanization of the Arachnids allows the human characters to justify their actions against them, no matter how extreme. For example, the film shows scenes of human soldiers massacring hundreds of Arachnids with heavy firepower, including using flamethrowers and other weapons of mass destruction. The characters are shown to take pleasure in killing the Arachnids, which reinforces the idea that they are not just fighting a war, but engaging in a righteous crusade against an evil enemy.

The film also shows how the emphasis on nationalism can lead to the suppression of dissenting voices. Characters who question the government's actions or express doubts about the war effort are portrayed as unpatriotic and disloyal. For example, when one character suggests that the government is lying to the populace about the true nature of the war, he is accused of being a traitor and a coward.

In addition to these themes, the film also uses satire to comment on other aspects of fascist societies, such as the emphasis on conformity and the use of propaganda to control the population.

"Starship Troopers" presents a scathing critique of fascist ideologies and their potential consequences. By exaggerating the themes of militarism and nationalism to an extreme, the film exposes the dangers of these ideologies and highlights the importance of critical thinking and individuality.

Counter argument - the Arachnids threw the first rock...


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About the author Jimmy Jangles

My name is Jimmy Jangles, the founder of The Astromech. I have always been fascinated by the world of science fiction, especially the Star Wars universe, and I created this website to share my love for it with fellow fans.

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