Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Starship Troupers - Innocent Sci-Fi ?

I often use Starship Troupers in my media literacy classes because it seems like an innocent sci-fi, action thriller. The film is set in the future with earth battling an alien species of bugs on a faraway planet. Seems harmless. Or is it?

Could the film be communicating a political message that casts doubt on our very way of life? It can even be an anti-American film. Director Paul Verhoeven weaves an interesting tale in which he believes government is misleading and lying to its citizens. They are convinced that war is good and just. But the people are being misled and are unaware of the government‘s true intentions. The government is only interested in their agenda. They want the natural resources of the alien planet. Some believe Verhoeven‘s real purpose was to criticize America‘s political and military objectives not only in the Middle East but globally as well. Is America becoming a new totalitarian and fascist state?

So is this innocent science fiction or political commentary? How do we know? Could this movie have an impact on your beliefs? I‘m sure your first answer would be an absolute No! But what about on a deeper, subconscious level?

In Matthew 10:16, ―Look, I am sending you out as sheep among wolves. So be as shrewd as snakes and harmless as doves.‖ (NIV) I think a case could be made that today‘s wolves represent our media culture. If we are to be shrewd as snakes and harmless as doves, we need to understand media literacy. If we are going to be successful expanding the Kingdom of God, we must know what we believe and why we believe it. I don‘t want the media to define my truth and my beliefs.

All filmmakers, including writers, directors and producers, have a point of view (POV). In fact, we all have a POV. Some people refer to this as a worldview. Our POV defines our attitudes and core beliefs. Without a POV, we would not be able to interpret the world around us. Point of view offers a perspective and insight into how we view politics, religion, social issues and personal lifestyle choices. The POV of Paul Verhoeven, director of Starship Troupers, has been shaped by his life experiences. As a child, he grew up in The Netherlands, his home country, during the German occupation. He was exposed to a totalitarian and fascist regime that routinely used propaganda to proclaim Nazi superiority. It unquestionably has influenced his political and social views, which are evident in his film Starship Troupers. Understanding the POV helps us to unlock the message within a film, television program or media in general. By using the tools of media literacy, we become more effective in identifying the POV.

Ecclesiastes 8:1 says, ―How wonderful it is to be wise, to be able to analyze and interpret things. Wisdom lights up a person‘s face softening its hardness.‖ (NLT) Understanding the language of media is to be wise. Embracing the concepts of media literacy gives us the ability to analyze and interpret everything we see and hear. I think movies especially have the ability to challenge us to examine our life choices and lifestyles. They can be a doorway to the truth. There have been countless examples of where God has used mainstream films to touch people‘s lives. Media is neither evil nor good. It is a conduit that carries whatever message we choose to communicate and by whatever manner we choose to use.

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