In the chapter of their 1944 book, Dialectic of Enlightenment, entitled “The Culture Industry: Enlightenment as Mass Deception,” critical theorists Theodor Adorno and Max Horkheimer argue that the instruments of popular culture—such as magazines, radio, and cinema—ultimately create a system deliberately manipulated and controlled by the established hierarchy. This system is designed to ensure acceptance by the populace of the ideologies and policies constructed and implemented by the ruling class; or, as Adorno and Horkheimer and phrase it, to guarantee “the simple reproduction of mind,” rather than, “the expansion of mind.” Paul Verhoeven’s Starship Troopers (1997) can be seen as both an examination and a deliberately comical indictment of this perspective. Infused with totalitarian turns of phrase and eugenics-inspired hierarchical distinctions, the film explores the ways in which propagandist techniques foster support for an increasingly militaristic society.
While its source material—Robert A. Heinlein’s 1959 novel—is often credited with originating the theme of militarization in science fiction, and has been condemned for its glorification of the jingoistic temperament, Verhoeven’s film is arguably an indictment of this sensibility, so a strange tension exists between page and screen. This topic, the emergence of the “bug” alien trope in science fiction, and the wide range of fan and critical reactions to Starship Troopers make the film referred to by some as “All Quiet on the Final Frontier” worthy of further consideration.
Cinema Classics Seminars offer an entertaining and engaging way to learn more about some of the true classics of world cinema. Students meet in the 2nd floor Multimedia room for an introductory lecture before the film and a guided discussion after the film. The film itself is shown in one of our theaters. Your ticket for the screening, as well as popcorn and a drink, are included with your registration.