Web Search nikon coolpix digital cameras The Miserable Annals of the Earth: Rock out with your cock out

Sunday, October 06, 2013

Rock out with your cock out

Rereading STARSHIP TROOPERS. It's been awhile.

On previous readings, at (obviously) younger ages, I guess the opening pages, in which the narrator and his soldier buddies cheerfully invade an alien planet for no reason ever made clear and bounce around in their futuristic powered battle armor gleefully slaughtering sentient beings with flamethrowers and blowing all their shit up with nuclear weapons... I guess that just didn't bother me. I mean, the victims were all aliens, and rather later on in the narrative, we are told that these aliens had the poor taste to ally themselves with other aliens that Earth really doesn't much like, so these Earthly space marines were sent on a "demonstration of firepower and frightfulness". So that's cool, right? Bad aliens. Blow their shit up. Murder them.

Which, I don't know, I guess I'm just getting old, because these days, I have a cynical suspicion that, if these same aliens were to drop in and pull all this shit on any city on Earth, the narrator might well start using words like 'terrorism' and 'atrocity' and 'genocide' and get really wrathful about it.

Heinlein's casual bloodthirstiness, raving xenophobia, virulent homophobia, and rampant misogyny (not to mention his sexual interests in bondage, discipline, group sex, dom/sub games, incest, and barely adolescent girls) have long been familiar to me. I took all this shit in stride when I wore a younger man's clothes, but lately (maybe it's the fact that I'm a parent with daughters of my own now) I'm just finding it tiresome.

But honestly, I can deal with most if not all of the barely repressed, furiously seething sexual perversions that seemed to haunt Heinlein's psychic bellfrey throughout the poor schmuck's life (or, at least, since he ditched his first wife Leslie and married Virginia); hey, that's just the world and the culture and the times that the man had the misfortune to be born into, along with the lack of bravery that caused him to stay in the closet all his life about his real sexual desires. (And, perhaps, his poor choice of second wives, but the world will never definitively know what went on there, so I'll leave that to the side.) And I get that. Nobody can control their kinks and no human culture has ever been universally tolerant or forgiving of such things. You go with the flow or you get strung up by the monkey mob, and Heinlein was controversial enough for any six guys. He didn't need to incite his own stoning or anything.

But the rampant "Wow, let's blow all this shit up and kill everyone who gets in the way" attitude he's presenting here... and the way he's pitching it, not just matter of factly, as one's duty to one's culture or whatever, but with a casual, even jaunty joyfulness, as if causing this sort of destruction and mayhem is something that's not only acceptable and/or grimly necessary, but also, well, totally AWESOME, dude -- he's basically saying "If your leaders decide you should go completely fuck up a bunch of other people, hey, you might as well relax and enjoy being a murderous megalomaniac". 

I'm just having a big problem with this, as I reread it. I mean, it's not just that I disagree with it, I find it to be absolutely criminally dangerously batshit insane. 

And this is EXACTLY the attitude that our military attempts to inculcate into its combat soldiers, as anyone who has ever heard the vile and loathsome phrase "Rock out with your cock out" -- a code phrase meant to inculcate in our soldiers in the Middle East a joyful attitude towards killing people and blowing up their shit -- will well know. 

Ah, well. I guess I had to grow up sometime.

And to think, he wrote STARSHIP TROOPERS to be a juvenile book, aimed at young boys.


If you enjoyed this article, try my Heinleinesque tale of a future zombie apocalypse, The Fear Masters!


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