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The Shower Scene Is the Most Important Part of ‘Starship Troopers,’ And Not For The Obvious Reasons
It’s been 21 years since we watched Johnny Rico evolve from wide-eyes civilian dissecting space-faring insects in his high school science class to Mobile Infantry trainee, and later, a seasoned roughneck. But there’s one scene from director Paul Verhoeven’s 1997 cinematic interpretation of Robert Heinlein’s 1959 military sci-fi classic Starship Troopers that remains iconic not for what we see, but for what most of us missed.
Yes, we’re talking about that shower scene.
In the span of a two soapy minutes, the infamous shower scene from Starship Troopers gave us a glossy, vivid 90s-style depiction of men and women in an infantry unit living, training, eating, sleeping, and yes, bathing together. The moment is playful, flirty and yet transgressively light. The movie premiered at a time before nudity was mainstream, and the scene was so radical that Verhoeven agreed to strip to down for filming to put the cast at ease — and it often gets head nods as a progressive depiction of service, mostly due to its debut nearly two decades before the U.S. military integrated combat arms.
It makes sense why: We see a bunch of space grunts, of all races and backgrounds winding down after a long day training, united in their willingness to serve and their desire to kill space bugs. But there’s something dark being hinted at amidst all the suds and space soldier stories — and there’s a good chance it went by unnoticed amid the scene’s other distractions.
The shower scene occurs during the movie’s first act, a broadly utopian depiction of a totalitarian society — one structured around the principle of military service as the sole path to citizenship — that is smack in the middle of an intergalactic war with a race of intelligent bugs. Kitten, one of the fresh recruits and a would-be writer facilitates the “get to know the squad” portion of the film; the result is, in some ways, a window into the moral and ethical social commentary that were largely jettisoned in Starship Troopers’ transition from book to screen.
To service members and veterans, some of the banter and backstories may even seem a little familiar. Sprinkled throughout the scene are the standard reasons for joining the military, namely, social and economic mobility: One guy wants off the farm; another joins to pay for college; and a third wants to make a career of it. And of course, there’s the romanticized trope of the young man heading off to war to find himself and win acclaim, or love, from those back home — though in Rico’s case, it’s over a highschool crush that ends with him being brutally Jody’d.
But like the promo-like adverts for “why the Mobile Infantry is right for you,” the scene quickly take a dystopian turn when one of the recruits explains that she’s “going in for politics … You gotta be a citizen for that, so here I am.” Another remarks that she enlisted because “I wanna have babies. It's a lot easier to get a licence if you've served.”
I don’t know about the rest of you, but when I saw that movie as a teenager, the significance was lost on me — mostly because there were pretty people showering, like a naked who’s-who of Beverly Hills, 90210 extras. It was probably more than my hormone-addled teenage brain could handle, and that may have been by design. With the distance of time, however, the dialogue is a strange contrast to the lighthearted nudity of the sequence, a commentary on how mundane and banal the planet’s militarized fascism has become.
“The idea I wanted to express was that these so-called advanced people are without libido,” Verhoeven told Empire in 2012. “Here they are talking about war and their careers and not looking at each other at all! It is sublimated because they are fascists.”
That “the nudity might even be part of the movie’s illusion: a way of getting you to focus on everything besides the point” is a theory Entertainment Weekly explored in a 20-year anniversary breakdown of the sci-fi space opera’s shower scene. Tucked in between the generic lures of military service are the red flags that their world is deeply flawed. This is not a huge shocker if you’ve been paying even attention to the “service guarantees citizenship” manta in the recurring propaganda newsreels, but it’s in this scene that the movie makes it clear exactly what military service entitles you to: political agency and the right to have a family.
Take a moment to let that sink in: Every aspect of their life is controlled by the state. Then consider that in the Mobile Infantry, they've got leisurely shower time, bed-mounted TVs in the barracks, and a glimmer of freedom, not to mention all those sweet MI benefits they can collect at the end of their service, like babies and a seat on a city council. In the campy future-world of Starship Troopers, there are no screaming drill instructors ordering Mobile Infantry recruits to scrub their nasty bodies on a countdown as they clamour, three or four to a shower head, to soap and rinse, before sprinting to change over for whatever grueling ordeal comes next. But, like all totalitarian “utopias”, what lies beneath is far more sinister.
In our present-day democracy, there are only two circumstances where your daily life is structured and controlled by the state. One is the military, which we volunteer for; the other is prison. In Starship Troopers, we see the inverse, where every aspect of life is controlled by the government, and the only way to secure greater personal freedoms, is to elect to serve. It makes the shower scene, wrapped in steam and flesh, a visceral commentary of life without freedom — you won’t miss what you don’t know.
GENEVA/DUBAI (Reuters) - U.S. President Donald Trump said he was prepared to take military action to stop Tehran from getting a nuclear bomb but left open whether he would back the use of force to protect Gulf oil supplies that Washington fears may be under threat by Iran.
Worries about a confrontation between Iran and the United States have mounted since attacks last week on two oil tankers near the strategic Strait of Hormuz shipping lane at the entrance to the Gulf. Washington blamed long-time foe Iran for the incidents.
Tehran denies responsibility but the attacks, and similar ones in May, have further soured relations that have plummeted since Trump pulled the United States out of a landmark international nuclear deal with Iran in May 2018.
Trump has restored and extended U.S. economic sanctions on Iran. That has forced countries around the world to boycott Iranian oil or face sanctions of their own.
But in an interview with Time magazine, Trump, striking a different tone from some Republican lawmakers who have urged a military approach to Iran, said last week's tanker attacks in the Gulf of Oman had only a "very minor" impact so far.
Asked if he would consider military action to prevent Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons or to ensure the free flow of oil through the Gulf, Trump said: "I would certainly go over nuclear weapons and I would keep the other a question mark."
Minnesota Democratic Party staffer under fire for calling USS Minneapolis-Saint Paul a 'murder boat'
Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz said Tuesday he is appalled by a state DFL Party staff member's tweet referring to the recently-launched USS Minneapolis-Saint Paul as a "murder boat."
"Certainly, the disrespect shown is beyond the pale," said Walz, who served in the Army National Guard.
William Davis, who has been the DFL Party's research director and deputy communications director, made the controversial comment in response to a tweet about the launch of a new Navy combat ship in Wisconsin: "But actually, I think it's gross they're using the name of our fine cities for a murder boat," Davis wrote on Twitter over the weekend.
'We are there to deter aggression' — Pompeo addressed CENTCOM on Iran mere moments before Shanahan announced his departure
TAMPA — Minutes before the Acting Secretary of Defense withdrew Tuesday from his confirmation process, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo spoke at MacDill Air Force Base about the need to coordinate "diplomatic and defense efforts'' to address rising tensions with Iran.
Pompeo, who arrived in Tampa on Monday, met with Marine Gen. Kenneth McKenzie Jr. and Army Gen. Richard Clarke, commanders of U.S. Central Command and U.S. Special Operations Command respectively, to align the Government's efforts in the Middle East, according to Central Command.
NAVAL BASE SAN DIEGO — The trial of Navy SEAL Chief Eddie Gallagher officially kicked off on Tuesday with the completion of jury selection, opening statements, and witness testimony indicating that drinking alcohol on the front lines of Mosul, Iraq in 2017 seemed to be a common occurrence for members of SEAL Team 7 Alpha Platoon.
Government prosecutors characterized Gallagher as a knife-wielding murderer who not only killed a wounded ISIS fighter but shot indiscriminately at innocent civilians, while the defense argued that those allegations were falsehoods spread by Gallagher's angry subordinates, with attorney Tim Parlatore telling the jury that "this trial is not about murder. It's about mutiny."
President Donald Trump announced on Tuesday that Acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan will "not to go forward with his confirmation process."
Trump said that Army Secretary Mark Esper will now serve as acting defense secretary.