Super Bowl

Sex and Death In George W. Bush's America

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By blaming American prudishness for the box office massacre of Basic Instinct 2, Paul Verhoeven, the man who should have directed V For Vendetta, has brought the wrath of the anti-Bush-bashers down on his own weaselly Dutch head. Sez the Robocop, Showgirls, and Starship Troopers helmer:

Anything that is erotic has been banned in the United States… Look at the people at the top (of the government). We are living under a government that is constantly hammering out Christian values. And Christianity and sex have never been good friends.

Nicholas Meyer, whose Wrath of Khan, Voyage Home, and Undiscovered Country were the most artistically successful of the big-screen Star Trek efforts (and whose TV movie The Day After took a bold and original stand against nuclear war), says the whole culture's gone kerblooey:

"We're in a big puritanical mode," he said. "Now, it's like the McCarthy era, except it's not 'Are you a communist?' but 'Have you ever put sex in a movie?'"

For writers like Meyer…the erotic genre has become a tough sell for studios increasingly leery of adult-themed material. Despite receiving glowing coverage, he and co-writer Ron Roose have found no takers for their sexy screenplay "Spoils."

"Every studio that read it said, 'This is going to get made.' They just didn't want to be the one to make it," he said.

"[A]ny director who can turn a movie about lapdancing into a stultifyingly dull 3 hour movie may not actually have a good grasp on what is erotic," scoffs one observer. "Make a bad movie, blame George Bush," sniffs another. A third avers, "People didn't go to see "Showgirls" because it was a derivative piece of tripe with a bad script, bad acting, bad directing, and bad editing." "[M]aybe Hollywood is indeed so depraved that the normal American culture, sex-drenched though it may be, looks Puritanical by contrast," another warns. "Scary, if true."

Some of these objections are baseless: Verhoeven has no excuses to make because he had nothing to do with Basic Instinct 2. If anything, he's got an incentive to gloat over the sequel's failure and claim that he was the key to the original's success (more on that in a moment). And while you can call Showgirls many things, "derivative" is not one of them; if ever a Hollywood movie was a true original, Showgirls was that movie.

Every tale of outrage about entertainment depravity starts with an anecdote about how the teller had to sit helplessly, unable to stir a hand toward the remote control, while some offensive show played in its full torturous length. So here's mine: After watching one of the NFL playoff games at the home of a friend who has only rabbit ears TV reception, I caught one of those endlessly replicating CSI-type shows (whichever one stars Mark Harmon), and it was as grisly and violent as an Italian gut-muncher from the seventies. The plot revolved around a killer who was sending the cops "meat puzzles"—thoroughly dismembered bodies with the pieces thrown together in a random pile. Now one thing I know about the coroner shows is that their audiences skew much older: Everybody's mom gets off on watching the MEs go about their suety business with fancy equipment. Presumably this audience includes at least some of the people Brent Bozell musters to bombard the FCC with complaints. So I'm thinking Maybe they're getting away with all these lingering closeups of bloody, mangled torsos and feet and faces because the audience sees some kind of educational value—you're getting the lowdown on how the cops solve crimes. But by the end of the show I had to give up even that excuse: As the killer finds himself cornered by the cops, he grabs a scalpel and cuts open his own throat, and the scene is done with full latex-and-squib effects and shooting blood.

I have not written an angry letter to the FCC because I want more explicit violence, not less, on my TV. But comparing the silence that met that show with the FCC's $3.6 million fine for a dimly lit orgy scene (on another violent cop show), I am willing to consider the possibility that American popular culture really does have a pretty fucked-up and schizophrenic relationship with depictions of sex and violence. I don't blame President Bush for that, but I don't praise him either: He put Kevin Martin in charge of the FCC, and Martin, despite his disturbingly hairless chin, is not exactly an innocent party here.

Obviously, it's a leap to go from that to saying Bush prevented people from lining up to spend money on a way-out-of-date movie franchise. Adult-themed films have been dying out for years, and the Hollywood Economist has the most persuasive explanation for that. If you want to know why Basic Instinct 2 tanked, it's because they didn't bring back the one person who was the key to the original movie's success: Wayne "Newman" Knight. Go watch the famous crotch sequence again, and it's clear: Without Newman's sweaty reaction shots that scene would have fallen completely flat.

In a related case of defining Bush-bashing down, Polyphonic Spree, the massive, robe-wearing, vaguely cultish pop ensemble, is getting dragged into the gutter of party politics. Dangerously charismatic frontman Tim de Laughter says the band's next song will be an "ode to Bush," and the liberal media give it the headline, "Polyphonic Spree Bash Bush On New Album." (The only thing more dangerous for the president than a Polyphonic Spree defection would be if Doug Henning and Shields & Yarnell teamed up to help the Democrats.)

NEXT: A Confederacy of Dunces or, Stupid Post-Katrina New Orleans Vending Rules

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  1. Funny, I keep seeing reports about how ubiquitous porn has become. Could it be that, contrary to the whiny Hollywood folks, it’s just that there are more competitors in the genre of crappy erotica?

  2. For the record:

    I *hate* Paul Verhoeven.

    His movies suck and he’s a jerk.

  3. I think Mr. V will win the 2006 Oscar for “Most Pretentious Excuse for Why a Movie Tanked.” I also think describing “Robocop” and “Showgirls” as “adult” is an insult to grown-ups everywhere.

  4. Not that Tim doesn’t have a point, but since Basic Instinct sucked ass I’m pretty sure it’s sequel would as well. Yes America is hypocritical in its relationship with sex and violence. But Paul Verhoeven is a talentless hack of a wanker nonetheless– even if he didn’t direct the second installment. I must quibble, however, that “Show Girls” seemed pretty derivative of about any soft-core porno I’ve ever seen. Maybe its originality lay in the fact that V. got someone to put up as much money as they spent on the movie.

  5. Showgirls wasn’t all that original, since it was essentially a remake of The Lonely Lady.

    This was why it was nominated for a a Razzie for worst remake.

  6. The annoying thing about CSI:NCIS:JAG:SVU:Miami shows is how the cops and coroners (as stand-ins for the gubmit) are always so freaking competent. It’s like a fantasy where the goverment really can protect us and keep stuff bad from happening. Maybe that’s why the old ladies like it so. (All the gore is some other fantasy I don’t really get, often seems to be related to the Missing White Girl phenomenon, and that ancient sexual repression => violence cliche). People tend to go to jail because they talk and incriminate themselves, or someone rats them out, not because of sharp investigators.

  7. still think of wayne as flounder. and his work in Twisted Sister’s “I wanna rock”…

  8. Robocop still cracks me up.

    Speaking of violent TV, was I the only person surprised that ABC aired The Ring the other night without any cuts (as far as I could tell) during prime time?

  9. took a bold and original stand against nuclear war

    What was bold and original about a stand against nuclear war in the 1980s? Supporting nuclear apocalypse, now that would have been bold. Saying you didn’t want it to happen…um, not so bold.

    Now, you could have taken a bold and original stand against nuclear weapons, or for unilateral disarmament, or something like that, but that’s not what the movie was about.

    Not to criticize…I loved that movie. Scared the living prebubescent shit out of me.

    I have not written an angry letter to the FCC because I want more explicit violence, not less, on my TV.

    You still have a complaint. Write a letter.

  10. I would like to thank L. Brent Bozell and The Parents’ Television Council for hosting the orgy clip from “Without a Trace” on their website.

    Without their effort I wouldn’t have been able to stream that puppy right into my office cubicle.

  11. Paul… Paul… Paul…

    I’m with you on America’s fucked-up sexual mores, but when it comes to Basic Instinct 2 I suggest you start shaving with Occam’s Razor; NO ONE WANTS TO WATCH A SEQUEL TO A MOVIE THAT REALLY DIDN”T NEED ONE!

  12. Every time someone in Hollywood opens their mouth, it’s as if a flow of wet warm diarhea gushes forth.

  13. What was bold and original about a stand against nuclear war in the 1980s?

    Sarcasm alert

  14. Flounder from Animal House? That was Stephen Furst (a.k.a. “Vir Cotto”).

  15. whoops. good call. thank you!

    how about Wayne Knight as the mobster from VI Warshawski?

    *blush*

  16. Where to begin…

    Showgirls…released in 1995. 1 year after the Republicans swept into power and 1 year before Bill Clinton got blown in the oval office. Movie, Monica and (ultimately) Republicans all proved how outstandingly they can suck.

    Paul Verhoeven…did a good job with Robocop and Starship Troopers…but everything in between – especially Basic Fucking Instinct – sucked. Not ONE likable character, not one interesting plot twist and not ONE good line of dialogue.

    American Prudishness…yes…it’s there in spades. So what. show me ANY time when some subset of American people didn’t go nuts about something they found offensive. The good thing is that instead of burning down theatres and embassies they harmlessly run over CDs, magazines & albums with monster trucks while whatever movie they bitch about races to blockbuster status. Then they elect impotent congressmen with big mouths.

    Any director that compains that their movie can’t get made while movies like The Brown Bunny, Brokeback Mountain, Bound, Wild Things, American History X and (insert your favorite offensive, sexy or weird movie here) DO get made is a whiny pussy.

    If they want to make a movie then get a passport or buy a mini DV camera and run an ad in the local paper.

    Nicholas Meyer…yes..he undoubtedly did the best showings of the Star Trek movies. But since there’s nothing in any of his movies or Sherlock Holmes fetish novels to suggest he could write or direct anything sexier than a yogurt commercial, I think he needs to look a little closer to home for reasons why he can’t get studio backing.

    I’ve ranted enough. Thanks. Good post, Tim.

  17. Whether or not Paul Verhoeven had anything to do with Basic Instinct 2, he sounds like yet another artist who fails to grasp the distinction between “audiences staying away in droves” and “censorship.”

  18. Funny, I keep seeing reports about how ubiquitous porn has become. Could it be that, contrary to the whiny Hollywood folks, it’s just that there are more competitors in the genre of crappy erotica?

    I suspect cable makes people feel like more is being produced than is actually the case. …cable and all the porn available via the internet.

    It used to be that the movies were one of the few socially acceptable places where people could go see such things. With the internet and cable, you don’t have to buy something over the counter from a cashier. …Part of the downtrend may just be that Hollywood no longer has a distribution advantage in the market for smut.

    Remember when Ted Turner took on Vince McMahon in the wrestling market? McMahon went for debauchery–there was no way Turner Broadcasting could follow suit. …It may be that cable and the internet are like Vince McMahon, and it may be that Hollywood is like Ted Turner. Hollywood can only go so smutty–why try to compete with that?

  19. “Paul Verhoeven…did a good job with Robocop and Starship Troopers…but everything in between – especially Basic Fucking Instinct – sucked. Not ONE likable character, not one interesting plot twist and not ONE good line of dialogue.”

    I submit that Robocop sucked. By turns uncreatively violent and condescending to the viewer for wanting to see violence.

    And the only people who like Verhoeven’s Starship Troopers are ones who haven’t read the book.

  20. “ny director that compains that their movie can’t get made while movies like…Bound…DO get made is a whiny pussy.”

    Bound is one of the hottest movies I have ever seen.

  21. mediageek,

    Robocop was good for one reason…Peter Weller…who has made a virtual cottage industry taking offbeat roles in oddball sci fi movies. Any other actor would have made it the poor showing you think it is.

    As for Starship Troopers…I (and many others I know who also like the movie) have indeed read and enjoyed the book. The movie was cool because it touched on some of the book’s political themes while putting out a pretty darn good action flick…even though it was nothing like the book.

  22. Jesus H. Christ on-a-popsicle-stick, Cavanaugh meandered with that post, eh? Culture and Bush bashing, a subject that seems to get Reason people giddy, because they can once again slaughter Sean Hannity, et al as they become “outraged.”

    There’s a more obvious explanation why the movie failed: It’s been 15 years. Sharon Stone’s character is no longer shocking because many, many female villains since then have been some combination of Stone and Close’s character from fatal attraction.

  23. Bound is one of the hottest movies I have ever seen.

    No doubt. Did you ever see the the Dennis Leary vehicle The Job. His police detective character gets assigned to watch Gina Gershon and there’s a whole bit about her being this lesbian siren. Great, funny episode.

    ..which goes to my point that it’s far from impossible to get a sexy movie made in the states.

  24. “The annoying thing about CSI:NCIS:JAG:SVU:Miami shows is how the cops and coroners (as stand-ins for the gubmit) are always so freaking competent.”

    That’s why I stopped watching L&O spin-offs — the police would “win” so often it got tiresome. H:LotS was significantly better in that the detectives probably “lost” about 1/5 of their cases, either because they couldn’t make the case against a suspect or (on a quite a few occasions) they couldn’t even find a plausible suspect.

  25. Hey, I liked Robocop, a lot. I don’t get how anybody could call it “condescending to the viewer” – it manages to be violent and flippant and melancholy. I think all the screaming about how America is a THEOCRACY where SEX IS BANNED is idiotic, though. I guess I just imagined all the porn for sale on the streetcorner, the huge gay pride parade last year, The Brown Bunny, etc. It’s like some bizarro-world reversal of the old joke about the guy who sees perversion in all the Rorschach blots.

    If this post appears multiple times, it’s probably because the server squirrels were too busy writing letters to the FCC.

  26. “The movie was cool because it touched on some of the book’s political themes while putting out a pretty darn good action flick.”

    Not to mention: Denise Richards.

  27. >What was bold and original about a stand against nuclear war in the 1980s?

    >>Sarcasm alert

    Thanks.

  28. As other people have pointed out here (sorry, don’t know how to pull quotes out of posts), Hollywood is facing “stiff” competition in the soft-porn area. As a good friend of mine pointed out, its tough to justify watching awful regular or cable TV just to see hot women when the internet delivers the pure stuff to your desktop. If TV and movies are going to continue to compete on sex, they’re going to lose. Guess they have to go back to DECENT ACTING and SCRIPTS! Yeah, that’ll happen.

  29. Or maybe Basic Instinct 2 flopped because no one wants to see Sharon Stone’s 50 year-old beave these days. Just a guess.

  30. “Guess they have to go back to DECENT ACTING and SCRIPTS! Yeah, that’ll happen.”

    Regrettably, it’s true, standards have fallen in adult entertainment. It’s video, Dude. Now that we’re competing with the amateurs, we can’t afford to invest that little extra in story, production value, feeling.

  31. Y’know, Jackie, I think I’d rather watch Log Jammin’ than Basic Instinct 2. I don’t wanna see that, I don’t wanna see Scary Movie 4, and I don’t wanna see that dumbass Antonio Banderas tango-based remake of Breakin 2 Electric Boogaloo.

    Has nothing to do with prudishness. Its the thriller part that I think will be missing in that film.

  32. Ramone,

    I think you hit the nail on the head as to why the old “erotic thrillers” don’t make it anymore. Why pay ten bucks to see Ann Hathaway take off her clothes when there are million woman doing God can only imagine what available on the internet and all of the good scenes from her movie are immediately available on the internet without having to waste two hours of your life suffering through what passes for dialog and plot in these movies. Its kind of hard to sell pretend sex when the real stuff is available. Kind of like how all the Playboy clubs, which were full of snotty waitress and had no nudity or sex, all went out of business when strip clubs that had real nudity became legal.

  33. And the only people who like Verhoeven’s Starship Troopers are ones who haven’t read the book.

    I have to agree with madpad. ST is the goriest action film I’ve ever seen. I saw it twice in one week. It rocked. Acting? Who needs acting when body parts are flying everywhere?

  34. Why pay ten bucks to see Ann Hathaway take off her clothes when there are million woman

    That depends how much of an Ann Hathaway fanatic you are. A friend of mine told me recently that he wanted to see Brokeback Mountain because “Ann Hathaway shows her tits in that movie!” So don’t sell Ann Hathaway short: Some of her fans think she’s worth at least two gay sheep-herders.

  35. Starship Troopers was a comedy. It was one of the funniest movies of the year. Seriously, when Doogie Houser come out wearing the Gestapo uniform? I practically fell out of my chair.

  36. That depends how much of an Ann Hathaway fanatic you are. A friend of mine told me recently that he wanted to see Brokeback Mountain because “Ann Hathaway shows her tits in that movie!” So don’t sell Ann Hathaway short: Some of her fans think she’s worth at least two gay sheep-herders.

    That’s the Julie Andrews Effect (for those wondering, she bared ’em back in the 70’s in some silly Blake Edwards movie. Quite a controversy back then.). Anne has been America’s Disney Sweetheart for the first part of her career; men find it very exciting when a Good Girl turns into a Nasty Girl.

  37. Starship Troopers was a comedy.

    Not to put too fine a point on it, but does everybody realize that Starship Troopers was a comedy? You might object to it anyway (count me among the fans of both the book and the movie), but when people complain that the acting was corny and the movie wasn’t serious, I wonder if they realize that it is a parody, more than an adaptation, of the book. Which doesn’t mean you have to like it, but you should consider it as what it is.

  38. Paul et al. have the “problem” exactly backwards. It’s not that America is getting more puritanical and skipping out on these movies. It’s that we’re less puritanical — we see breasts and asses and vaginas online constantly, and so we’re no longer willing to drop $10 and sit through two execrable hours for a quick glimpse. When you can see it for free with two clicks of your mouse, why would you pay and wait for it?

  39. As for Starship Troopers being a parody/comedy I am not so sure of that. As a model for future Army recruitment campaigns I think it would work great.

    Showing happy soldiers hunting down insurgents in Iraqi suburbs with a giant “Join Now!” slogan pasted over it would be fantastic. Who could deny a happy soldier, eh?

  40. As for Starship Troopers being a parody/comedy I am not so sure of that. As a model for future Army recruitment campaigns I think it would work great.

    Showing happy soldiers hunting down insurgents in Iraqi suburbs with a giant “Join Now!” slogan pasted over it would be fantastic. Who could deny a happy soldier, eh?

    Yeah, little videos of happy soldiers killing badguys and giving little American flags to kids. With little blurbs popping up on the bottom of the screen like “Why are terrorists so evil? Click here to find out!”

  41. Tim, yeah, I realize that ST was meant to be a comedy/parody of the whole right-wing, war-mongering, snappy-uniformed fascist set, but it all just fell kinda flat for me.

    Verhoeven’s imagined right-wing statism, like the retarded kid in grade school, is easy to make fun of, but ultimately there’s no satisfaction in it.

    And then there’s the whole powered armor suit thing. Heinlein’s imagining of the battle mech may be clich? now, but at the time it was really novel and very well thought out.

    Heinlein’s armored suits are just screaming for the big-budget Hollywood treatment. Especially if they were to be re-imagined in a retro-futurist 1950’s style, or if they just hired Doug Chiang to design the things.

  42. I hope this isn’t too much of a diversion, but I’d like to add that I think we’d see more and better smut if the studios were allowed to own theaters again. My understanding is that, before the government stepped in and broke that ownership up, studios with more theaters in the Mid-West made more westerns and musicals, and studios with more theaters on the coasts, in the big cities, they made more noir crime/gangster, detective/mystery films. Even if the government did get out of the way, general distribution and the cineplex may have muted that effect, but I still think studios might cater more to urban audiences, we might see more and better smut, that is, if the studios had a bigger share of the ticket sales, a chunk of the concessions, etc. in places where tastes were a little more…um…urban.

  43. And then there’s the whole powered armor suit thing. Heinlein’s imagining of the battle mech may be clich?ow, but at the time it was really novel and very well thought out.

    Yeah, ST-book fundamentalists always make a bunch of political arguments against the movie, but what it really boils down to is that they’re mad the movie didn’t have mech suits. Which is actually the most legitimate argument against the movie, I think.

  44. I was never fully persuaded that the logic behind Heinlein’s political system in ST would be workable, but I did first read it when the U.S. still had a draft that I could be subject to. The idea that the franchise must be earned by voluntary service – military or otherwise – struck me as interesting. It did confront the paradox of Cold War America, that in order to remain “free” our government had to impose slavery on its young, male citizens.

    Verhoeven and screenwriter Edward Neumeier twisted the moral center of RAH’s book, and made of it another thing entire. I’ve always felt that wasn’t cricket, which is probably why this sort of crap is pulled off when an author is safely dead. Sure, once I accepted what they were trying to do, I went with it, but I’d rather have seen a straight adaptation of the work, parodies, homages and pastiches following after.

    Kevin

  45. Tim, yeah, I realize that ST was meant to be a comedy/parody of the whole right-wing, war-mongering, snappy-uniformed fascist set, but it all just fell kinda flat for me.

    True, but I think part of what made me laugh was also that its parody was almost self-parody at the same time. Sure they were making fun of jingoistic pseudofascism, but I really felt like they were also making fun of making fun of jingoistic pseudofascism. It was almost a parody of anti-war parodies.

    Or at least I decided to loosen up and re-interpret it that way. I did see the film in 3B – Three beers and it looks good, eh?

  46. Note, the self-parody thing can also be applied to the Polyphonic Spree. It’s like a thousand Jon Andersons cried out at once, and were suddenly silenced.

  47. *did not know Verhoven was involved w/ Starship Troopers until now…*

    Is that why they showed us everyone else nekked except for Denise Richards? Was that one of his little sexual games? “I’ll throw in one cute chick only to show the flesh of a bunch of flat ones, that oughta throw em for a loop!”

  48. It is curious how much more tolerant of violence that we are than of sex.

    Take my favorite guilty pleasure, the Anita Blake series. That series is violent as Hell. Every book you are treated to a full description of mangled bodies in such a shape that there is at least one cop at the crime scene puking his guts out.

    Lately the author decided to include sex, which she made as graphic as the violent scenes – her rationale was that as she did not flinch when whe wrote violent scenes she would not flinch there. Now devoted readers who devoured the gore and dismemebered parts, do nothing but complain about the descent into hard core pornography

    (I warn you, it is hard core…)

  49. I just noticed something in the Verhoeven quote.

    And Christianity and sex have never been good friends.

    My word, has this man never seen a Catholic family?

  50. I realize “Starship Troopers” (the movie) is a satire, but it’s still awful. This is a movie in which giant bugs, with no technology, shoot plasma turds (!) into space with such precision that they can (1) destroy an orbiting attack fleet and (2) nudge an asteroid so that it travels millions of light years in a matter of days (!!) and then lands smack on an Earth city (!!).

  51. For my money, the Anita Blake novels are better with the sex. But maybe that’s just me.

  52. with shows like battle star galactica, lost, sopranos, big love, and curb your enthusiasm on i really don’t want to go back to the good ol days of TV…the movies now a days do suck though…but i am, willing to admit that they probably always sucked but i was to dumb and young to know any different.

    I mean 1.5 -3 hours is almost the perfect time to to tell a terrible story…if is is an epic it is to short and if it is a short story then it is to long. and it is totally determined on how long it takes an ass to hurt will sitting in a cramped smelly dirty uncomfortable theater and has nothing to do with telling a good story.

  53. I’m one of the people who loved Starship Troopers” the book and felt ripped off by the movie. And not because the mechanized suits were missing — those were an interesting element, but not the heart of a book. That’s not why Heinlein wrote it.

    I hated the move beause it was marketed to appeal to fans of the book, but it was actually a parody that inverted the beloved book’s themes. (Actually, it wasn’t even accurate enough to be a good parody — it was really a parody of what Verhoeven mistakenly thought the book was about.)

    It felt like a violation.

    It was like being wooed from afar by a beautiful woman, and when she finally visits your town to meet you in person, you find out she’s a transvestite.

    Or, imagine “Paul Verhoeven’s Reason: Free Minds and Free Markets!” — a movie based on the most popular libertarian magazien ever! The hordes of Reason fans line up to buy tickets. And then you find that the movie portrays Virginia Postrel leaving, and then the magazine being taken over by a bunch of pot-smoking 20-year-old liberal Democrats, with nary a mention given of actual libertarian ideas, except in a dismissive and caricatured way. And on top of that, it portrayed the staff as a bunch of statists who constantly called for government solutions.

    It wouldn’t be accurate enough to even be an effective parody.

    Maybe if had been more clear that the movie was deliberately not based on the book’s themes (like maybe giving it a slightly different title, such as Starship Stormtroopers), it wouldn’t have felt like a deceitful ripoff. It wasn’t merely artistic subversiveness — ripoff is what it was.

  54. took a bold and original stand against nuclear war

    What was bold and original about a stand against nuclear war in the 1980s? Supporting nuclear apocalypse, now that would have been bold. Saying you didn’t want it to happen…um, not so bold.

    I thihnk tim was being sarcastic…

    Not to criticize…I loved that movie. Scared the living prebubescent shit out of me.

    yeah it had the opposite effect on me…i wanted a nuke war after that…or at least more movies with nukes going off in them. And yes i did grow up…now I just want more nukes going off on TV.

    The wierd things was I remember the news showing collage students being physicaly sick and pucking becouse of it…and i remeber thinking what the fuck is thier problem….i still look down at people who are 10-15 years older then me becouse of that.

  55. Oops, forgot to close the italics after the book title in my first paragraph above.’

    I also made some other typos, but the hell with them.

  56. Tim,

    I am a big Anne Hathaway fan and I can definitely see how seeing her is worth putting up with the gay shepherds, but why put up with the sheep herders when you can just download the relevent scenes off the internet and save yourself ten bucks to boot?

    There was only one good line in Starship Troopers. When the bugs are invading the earth and the newsbimbo wonders what we have done to bring on their rath. I think Heinlein is the most overrated author. I have read that and A Stranger in a Strange Land and neither one of them did a thing for me. As far as his politics, both of those books are too convuluted and confused for there to be much of any politics in them that the reader doesn’t put in himself.

  57. I read a story recently (in Slate, I think) that laid out pretty much the thinking in Hollywood.

    It basically lay down that you make…

    1. A sequel

    2. A remake

    3. A movie of a successful book

    Pretty much explains why Hollywood is full of gutless pussies.

  58. My word, has this man never seen a Catholic family?

    Well, you’re supposed to “be fruitful and multiply,” but you aren’t suppose to enjoy it.

  59. I am willing to consider the possibility that American popular culture really does have a pretty fucked-up and schizophrenic relationship with depictions of sex and violence…

    Hasn’t it always been true, since the dawn of visual media in this country, that violence is great but sex is horrible?

    A half second nipple slip nobody even saw the first time around brought the nation to its knees, but 78 shootings in a 2 hour span on CBS on a Wednesday night, that’s just “normal tv.” Nobody even gives that a thought.

    Its not just tv and movies either. Remember over at the DOJ, Ashcroft covered Lady Justice’s boob? I guarantee you nobody’s ever thought to cover up George Washington’s pistol.

    What are the statistics on # of murders a child will witness on tv/movies before the age of 12? I bet the ratio of that to the # of fuckings they’ll witness on tv/movies during that same time span is about 1,000 : 1.

    Side question: are Americans a thousand times more entertained by killing people than by making them? Or just a thousand times more comfortable admitting they like watching people die than admitting they like watching people fornicate?

  60. Side question: are Americans a thousand times more entertained by killing people than by making them? Or just a thousand times more comfortable admitting they like watching people die than admitting they like watching people fornicate?

    i have fucked before and to watch it is only a comparison…i have never killed anyone…and i usually go to the movies for escapism.

    It really can be that simple.

  61. Independent Worm,

    The media never told the truth about Ashcroft and the boobs on the statue. The statues are located near the ceiling of a large room where Ashcroft would have press conferences. Before they were covered, the favorite indoor outdoor sport of smartass photographers was to sprawl out on the floor in front of Ashcroft in all sorts of odd positions so that they could get his face in the same frame as the nude statues for the news films that went out that day. It got to be a distraction at the press conferences, these juniville photographers crawling all over the floor, that Ashcroft finally said to hell with it and had the statues covered up. Ashcroft covered up the statues to stop the reporters’ annoying Bevis and Butthead behavior, not because he was offended by the statues. The media, the liars that they are, never mentioned that fact and made it look like it was because Ashcroft couldn’t stand the site of a naked boob.

  62. starship troopers is one of the funniest satires ever made.

  63. “And the only people who like Verhoeven’s Starship Troopers are ones who haven’t read the book.”

    this is true. heinlein seems like an egregious retard.

  64. John, I knew that story and it really isjust as funny when you know all the facts. Ashcroft is still a prude with a stick up his ass.

  65. I’m going to point it out in every thread until it sinks in:

    Many of you need to read what you post, real careful-like, and wonder why linguist, smacky, or any other girl with brains thinks you’re a bunch of clods.

    Also, if you went to see Brokeback Mountain to see Anne Hathaway show the goods, you missed the entire point of the movie.

  66. The increased-competition argument for disinterest in sexual content doesn’t explain why violent content is still a draw. You can also find a lot better violent action stuff than you used to-forensic photos, combat footage, pictures of insurgents with their heads in tatters… That’s not keeping anybody away from paying good money to watch that stuff on the big screen or digging the latest version of CSI: Special Pediatric Burn Victims Unit. It also doesn’t explain why this split has always existed-and not just in America: Victor Hugo killed people by the dozen and he was a bestseller; Madame Bovary has off-stage sex with two lovers and Flaubert was tried for it in a criminal court.

    Finally, this may sound like an I-read-Playboy-for-the-articles argument, but not every sex scene in a regular movie is supposed to be stroke material any more than every scene of violence is designed to make you kill somebody. It’s true you can find wank-starters easier than ever before, but that’s not why a sex scene is in a regular movie anyway.

  67. “Yeah, ST-book fundamentalists always make a bunch of political arguments against the movie, but what it really boils down to is that they’re mad the movie didn’t have mech suits. Which is actually the most legitimate argument against the movie, I think.”

    I found Heinlein’s socio-political bits in Starship Troopers to be interesting. I think they make for a fun thought experiment, but are ultimately unworkable.

    I wouldn’t expect anything coming out of Hollywood to thoughtfully consider a political viewpoint that is as utterly alien to them as the bugs were supposed to be to the viewer. Nor would it be all that fair to expect them to be able to set all of that up within the confines of a two-hour movie.
    As a result, I can’t really get too bent out of shape about it.

    But leaving out the power suits is just utterly unforgivable.

    Because let’s face it.

    RobotJox sucked.

  68. While Nicholas Meyer did direct The Wrath of Khan and The Undiscovered Country, it was Leonard Nimoy who directed The Voyage Home. Jus’ sayin’ is all.

  69. It’s true you can find wank-starters easier than ever before, but that’s not why a sex scene is in a regular movie anyway.

    becouse we can do it…first there was a kiss on screen so everyone knew how to kiss…you see it once you try it and eventually you see and try it all….violence is differnt becouse you don’t try it…you can never know what it “really” like so you go back for more and more and that is it in a nutshell…nothing deep here move along.

  70. “You can also find a lot better violent action stuff than you used to?forensic photos, combat footage, pictures of insurgents with their heads in tatters… That’s not keeping anybody away from paying good money to watch that stuff on the big screen or digging the latest version of CSI: Special Pediatric Burn Victims Unit.”

    The big budget Hollywood stuff is much better looking than the real thing. In a Michael Bay movie, the protagonist draws a brace of pistols in slow motion while patriotic music swells in the background before engaging in a protracted shootout that is fast and disorienting until the crucial moment where everything slows down to the point where you can see the actions on the pistols cycling and ejecting a spent casing before it zooms in and follows a bullet through midair, striking it’s target unerringly.

    The protagonist then (again in slow motion) ejects the empty magazines from his weapons, looks at his vanquished foe, and delivers a witty one liner.

    All of this, I might add, is in dolby 5.1 surround sound, 35mm film, bigger than life, color-corrected to perfection, and framed with painstaking artistic beauty.

    vs.

    In real life, you get some shaky video footage of a couple of soldiers, or a few insurgents taking potshots at some target that can’t be seen because it’s too far away, or the news photog is scared shitless because he’s in the middle of a warzone.

    The sound sucks, the framing sucks, there’s nobody who’s being overly witty or running headlong into whithering enemy fire. There’s no resolution or satisfaction. It’s not easy or good looking.

    Perhaps I’m projecting, but that’s why I think violent films still have such a draw. Everyone wants to be the gun-toting hero. Nobody wants to be the anonymous soldier who gets killed by an IED on the news.

  71. The sex scenes in Hollywood movies are also slicker, better-framed, more elegant, and with better-looking people than the real thing. For production value they’re many times better than the best porn being done today.

    So we’re back to square one.

  72. Tim, I honestly don’t have an answer for that one.
    Which is why my previous post was limited to just the violence.

    I think Joshua Corning makes a good point.

    Extrapolating from his post, maybe that’s why people like Brent Bozell feel this overarching need to protect tha childrun from seeing a tit.

    Maybe it’s all a misguided attempt to protect kids from the negative consequences of sex, an activity most people will engage in during adulthood.

    Violence, perhaps, gets a pass because no one in their right mind would actively seek it out.

    *shrugs*

    That’s the best I can do. In the end, the whole thing is idiotically irrational.

  73. The sex scenes in Hollywood movies are also slicker, better-framed, more elegant, and with better-looking people than the real thing. For production value they’re many times better than the best porn being done today.

    This is why Hollywood movie sex scenes do nothing for me; they are phoney, overproduced, and often totally unnecessary. I generally don’t like porn sex either. I also find fake boobs a turn off. I’ve seen a couple of European films that had realistic sex scenes; I liked that. I do like nude pictures of attractive women. I guess I like realism in sex.

    I don’t have a problem with Heinlein’s Starship Troopers idea of the vote being tied to voluntary service. I would never serve, so I’d go without the vote. BFD. As if anyone’s vote matters. I think people dislike this idea because they have the civil rights struggle stuck in their minds. These two situations are totally different, though. Denying an entire class of people the vote is oppression, but in Starship Troopers, the vote is available to anyone willing to earn it. In The South, denying the vote to blacks enabled white racists to control important aspects of black American’s lives; in ST, no particular group of people is denied anything but the vote. For any individual, a vote is worthless, as it has no real power. With a system like that in ST, any individual, even without the franchise, has the opportunity to use speech to influence those with the franchise. Real power lies in influence.* (It’s been a while since I read ST, so I may be forgetting some details. I suppose I’m referring to a constitutional republic with decent civil liberties and ST-like voting rights.)

    *This is why I think The First Amendment is much more important than the right to vote.

  74. Erica Jong once said of porn “the first five minutes make you feel like having sex. The next ten minutes make you feel like never having sex again in your life.”

    The ones that I’ve seen would tend to make me agree with this.

  75. David Spade said it best re: Basic Instinct 2: why remake an old movie that wasn’t any good and was only famous for its beaver shot? the script hasn’t improved with age and neither has the beaver. It looks like she’s got ZZ Top in a scissor hold.

  76. I will never again be able to walk out of a movie theater and say, “That was the worst movie ever made.”

    Why? Because I have seen Starship Troopers.

  77. P Brooks:

    have you ever seen Air Force one?

    that’s gotta be on the list somewhere 🙂

    ashcroft is a prude asshole. trying to blame the press for that shows, as if there were any doubt, what type of poster who made that claim.

  78. P Brooks:

    Battlefield Earth, Van Helsing, Alexander, Rollerball, Dead Man. And this is only the post 2000 list…

  79. Robocop was a terrific movie.

  80. Madame Bovary has off-stage sex with two lovers and Flaubert was tried for it in a criminal court.

    Have you read Madame Bovary? Holy crap, the ten+ pages of her death scene, which should have been sweet release, were enough to qualify as crimes against humanity. Put Flaubert’s head on the same pike with that boring jerk Thomas fricking Hardy.

    I may have been bitter about some of my assigned reading.

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