Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Article Note: On Starship Troopers, the war on terror and censorship

Citation for the article:

Williams, Paul. "Starship Troopers, the War on Terror, and the Spectacle of Censorship." Science Fiction Film and Television 2.1 (2009): 25-44.

Read via Interlibrary Loan.

As my three readers know, once in a while I read academic articles outside of library science and pedagogy. In part, this is to keep up my academic fields of interest outside of library science, and science fiction happens to be one of those areas. Since the article is not related to library science or education, I am posting about it here. At any rate, I came across the article listed above, and it caught my eye.

The article looks at the Verhoeven film Starship Troopers in the context of censorship and war propaganda. It also makes some interesting connections to the War on Terror, especially to the incidents at Abu Ghraib prison. From the conclusion, "the discussion of Starship Troopers sheds light on America's military use of spectacle and information during the Bush Administration's War on Terror" (42). Williams goes about demonstrating this by looking at various scenes in the film. He pays particular attention to the FedNet broadcasts in the film, which are tools of propaganda and information. Notice also that the broadcasts in the film serve to reinforce the idea of a continuing, some may say eternal, war much like the current War on Terror which has no end in sight; notice how the rhetoric around the War on Terror deals with this being a long war. In essence, we are looking at a state of permanent war, which by the way, is something authors like George Orwell have described.

The article also looks at the issue of prisoner torture and how totalitarian societies, and some societies that claim not to be totalitarian, find ways to make that torture permissible. In the film, the captured brainbug is tortured, but the act itself is censored (even though everyone knows what will happen). This is compared to the concealment of Guantanamo prisoners where the legal protections of prisoners were erased.

Overall, the article uses the film as a way to look at the United States and its practices when it comes to the War on Terror. It looks at the mechanisms the government uses to censor and to create spectacle as needed to get people to go along with the war. The article is certainly worth a look. And personally, it also made me think of works like Joe Haldeman's The Forever War. I am thinking there may be similar possibilities for study in that novel as well.

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