4Starship Troopers - the (Not Ironic) Fascism
When fanboys complain about the soldiers-vs.-insect-monsters, intentionally over-the-top sci-fi action flick Starship Troopers, it's usually about how director Paul Verhoeven left out the giant, awesome, robot-armor death-suits that featured heavily in the novel. (When nonfanboys complain about it, it's usually about how awful it is as, like, a movie.) A complaint you don't hear so often is that Verhoeven also left out the fact that the insect monsters are meant to be stand-ins for the soulless, hive-minded Chinese.
All that nonsense would have left less time for Full Metal Space Jacket.
In the film, the notion that the people of the future live in a weirdly fascistic society with whippings and public executions is treated in a playful, campy way, pretty much what you'd expect from the man who gave us Showgirls.
They're pretty much the exact same movie.
Robert Heinlein's book, though, is really a coming-of-age story in which protagonist Johnny Rico transitions from child to adult in a time of war and in so doing learns the value and necessity of the ultra-right-wing government he serves and defends. Militarism isn't mocked -- it's glorified. And Heinlein wasn't much for leaving it up to the readers to decide for themselves; the subtext is more like something Glenn Beck would scream just as he was pushed down a staircase built by illegal-immigrant death-panelists.
For example, the robot-suit action in the book is regularly broken up by lectures on such subjects as capital punishment, the need for a strong national defense and how a military-run government is the way to achieve utopia. These take the form of actual literal lectures in Johnny's history and moral philosophy class. They go on for pages and pages and are full of nuggets like this:
"Liberty is never inalienable; it must be redeemed regularly with the blood of patriots or it always vanishes."
"Nobody preached duty to these kids in a way they could understand -- that is, with a spanking."
"Either we spread and wipe out the Bugs, or they spread and wipe us out -- because both races are tough and smart and want the same real-estate."
"It is the enlightened self-interest of the individual which guarantees the wealth of nations! RUN!!!"
The Bugs in the novel, by the way, aren't just big praying mantises with tusks; they have weapons and starships, too. The biggest difference between them and humans is that they attack by the millions and have no sense of individuality whatsoever. Kind of like ... oh. Right.
It turns out that Heinlein really, really hated communism. He started the book right after the Korean War, and just by coincidence, the implacable, inhuman menace that the brave soldiers of the future have to fight is a horde of collectivist, expansionist insects. As if the symbolism wasn't obvious enough, he adds lines such as, "We were discovering, expensively, just how efficient a total communism can be when used by a people actually adapted to it by evolution. ... Perhaps we could have figured it out about the Bugs by noting the problems the Chinese Hegemony gave the Russo-Anglo-American Alliance."
He doesn't even use paper. He just writes this shit on his palm and delivers it to you bitch-style.
The whole thing was so over-the-top that Heinlein's publishers refused to touch it. A dick move, you might say, until you realize that what they had contracted Heinlein to write for them was a series of young adult novels. We guess ol' Rob felt that heavy-handed sermons about the Red Menace were what kids looked for in their fiction.
3Jaws - the Mafia Plotline
Peter Benchley's Jaws is the novel that alerted America to the fact that sharks are terrifying and unstoppable and the ocean is just filled with them. Steven Spielberg's film version was so awesome it spawned the summer blockbuster, a genre that 15 Michael Bay movies hasn't yet been able to kill.
How did Spielberg do this? By bringing in likable, well-defined characters? By being an expert when it comes to shooting incredibly tense shark-related action scenes? No. It was because Spielberg took the book and did a find-and-replace, getting rid of every account of illicit sex and scheming mobsters, and swapping in an improbable oxygen-tank explosion.
O.G. stands for "ocean gangsta," bitch. Holla.
Let's just say that Peter Benchley's novel needed a good hard Spielberging in order to appeal to a broad audience. Remember how Amity's mayor is so obsessed with keeping the beaches open? In the movie, he just seems like a whiney, tourism-obsessed idiot, but in the book, he's up to his eyeballs in debt to the mob, which is running a complex real estate scam on Amity Island. And this mafia isn't just some forgettable, background annoyance; when Chief Brody is reluctant to open up the beaches for fear of the shark, a dude shows up at his house and snaps his cat's neck.
Beach-related cat murder isn't the only thing Spielberg cut. While the movie does a fine job of showing Brody and his wife as a cute, charming little beach couple, in the book, Brody's wife, disenchanted with her small-town life and presumably distressed by the prospect of imminent shark-murder, jumps into bed with the handsome young shark expert. Hooper.
They meet for lunch in a restaurant, and the conversation quickly gets weird:
"Sometimes I'm in the kitchen in the morning after everybody has left, and a workman from one of the houses next door comes to my back door. He wants to use the phone or have a glass of water." She stopped.
"I let him in the door and he threatens to kill me if I don't do what he wants."
"Does he hurt you?"
"Oh no. I mean, he doesn't stab me or anything."
"Does he hit you?"
"No. He just ... rapes me."
"Is it fun?"
"Not at first. It's scary. But then, after a while, when he's ..."
"When he's got you all ... ready."
So obviously after that the two have a brief affair. Chief Brody suspects that Richard Dreyfuss is boning his wife, which makes his decision to take him out on a boat to hunt the shark somewhat inexplicable ... or does it?
"So basically we just drag him behind the boat. Like 185 pounds of soft pork."
Also, in the book, Hooper tragically dies when the shark eats his cage, and Brody shoots Hooper in the neck while the shark eats him.
The big question is, "Why was this even in the novel?" Fucking, symbolism? We don't know. Maybe in Benchley's mind, the giant shark preying on the town was meant to be a stand-in for all the metaphorical "sharks" that prey on people in real life, like Jaws is REALLY about a mafia-shark and an adulterer-shark (also an actual shark). Whatever the case, Spielberg found the novel's undercurrents far too dark for the movie he wanted to make. He found all the characters so unlikeable, in fact, that as he was reading the novel, he ended up rooting for the shark. Which is not where we, the audience, ended up.
Until about Jaws IV.
We really wished this was a photoshop. It doesn't hurt to dream.