In the United States of America, there are several ways to become a citizen, the easiest being born on American soil. You can participate in electing our government officials if you wish and enjoy all the rights we are guaranteed. In the film Starship Troopers, which is based upon the science fiction novel by Robert Henilein, citizenship must be earned. By examining the movie and evaluating citizenship from the American and Terran Federation perspectives, finding the meaning of citizenship was both thought-provoking and enlightening.
In the film, Starship Troopers, the setting is Earth, in the future, in an area known as Buenos Areas. The major characters are four young adults, Johnny Ricco, Dizzy Flores, Carmen Ibanez, and Carl Jenkins. The storyline follows these individuals through their journey of obtaining citizenship by signing up for service through the government, known as the Terra Federation. Johnny and Dizzy are assigned to the infantry, Carmen becomes a pilot and Carl is assigned to intelligence. Once this group of friends disperse and enter their training, the prime focus revolves around the bugs of unusually large sizes, who’s objective is to colonize all planets, including earth. The main emphasis concentrates on Johnny Ricco, who comes from a wealthy family who is against his decision to join the Federation. His father insists he attend Harvard and orders Johnny to leave when he ultimately chooses service. There are your typical Hollywood add ins dealing with love and loss, particularly with Johnny and Dizzy. There is an accidental death during training which Johnny is partially responsible for. After his harsh punishment, Johnny decides to quit the infantry. Before he leaves, there is word that earth has been attacked by bugs, and Buenos Areas is practically decimated. Johnny decides he needs to stay to fight the bugs that destroyed his home town, helping human civilization prevail.
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The bugs outsmart the humans several times, destroying many the infantry, wounding Johnny severely. Once he regains his strength and proves he’s an exceptional member of the infantry, Johnny is promoted to a higher rank. The humans wise up and come up with new strategies to take the bugs out, partaking in air attacks to lighten the bug load on the ground. Eventually Johnny finds the main bug called the brain bug, with help from two pilots, one of which being Carmen. They find the bug with its army of protector bugs deep inside a cavern in the mountains on a bug colonized planet. The brain bug is enormous and resembles an actual brain. Its pinkish grey hue, slug like movements and googly eyes should not deceive you, as there is a large tentacle that emerges from the bug that stabs humans in the head to suck out their brains. Johnny, Carmen and a few other infantry members escape the brain bug and its army of other bugs, destroying the ones that did not flee deeper into the caves. Once Johnny, Carmen and members of his platoon exit the caves, they discover that another platoon captured the giant brain bug, which ends up aiding in the human’s battles to learn how to take the bugs out more successfully.
Having American citizenship is something that many Americans do not think about, and toady it is taken for granted. Merely being born in America gives you citizenship. Individuals can also apply if they come from another country, however, this process can be rigorous and time consuming. As discussed by Brown and Maloyed, Americas system is closely related to the imperial Roman model, where citizens are guaranteed equal rights under the law, but how we partake is up to us. We are not forced to vote, it is our right to choose to participate. Individuals who elect to take part in voting are allowing themselves to have a voice in who represents us in our government. We are granted certain freedoms that are defined in our Constitution, which is the law of the land. Our only obligations are to follow the laws set up by the government. We have these rights and freedoms because of our Founding Fathers, who are responsible for obtaining them over 200 years ago. Being a citizen in that era was different then what we see today. Our founding Fathers had to fight for the freedoms we take for granted. Breaking free from King George III required sacrifice, courage, and unity from the individuals who were part of the colonies (Morone and Rogan, 2018). The representatives of the colonies rejected following the Supreme Judge of the world, declaring their independence and freedom from the British Crown (Morone and Rogan, 2018). John Locke was also opposed of the Supreme Judge model, stating absolute monarchy is inconsistent with civil society, therefore it can in no way be a civil society (Locke, 1690). Looking back at what our Founding Fathers went through to obtain the freedom they desired, the freedom that we all are granted today, makes American citizenship something we should be proud of.
In the film, Starship Troopers, citizenship is something that everyone must earn. This is achieved through service in the government in an array of fields, the most prominent is joining their military (Verhoeven, Starship Troopers). Completing service (minimum of two years) will guarantee those individuals with citizenship. Then and only then can you run for a political office, vote, apply for a license to have a child and receive financial aid to obtain a higher education (Verhoeven, Starship Troopers). Civilians are not able to participate in these opportunities and they are looked down upon by citizens. Johnny Ricco implies that civilians lack courage when giving a eulogy to one of his fallen soldiers (Verhoeven, Starship Troopers). The act of becoming a citizen is highly encouraged in this society, therefore there is a high enrolment rate. There are obligations that come with gaining citizenship. Citizens can be called back to serve in times of war, to protect civilians and the wellbeing of the planet. (Verhoeven, Starship Troopers).
When observing these two models of obtaining citizenship, there are many areas of similarities and differences. After looking at the design of the Terran Federation, it is quite comparable to our military. We both have a variety of areas for individuals to sign up, there are terms for time you will serve, and you will indeed get assistance in furthering your education if you so choose to. Members of the Terran Federation are proud to serve, much like our military. However, in America we do not have to earn our citizenship by signing up for the military. We are free to have a baby at any time we choose, we do not need to obtain a license. We are able to vote when we are of age and run for political offices. One jarring difference is the crime rate between the two models. In the Terra Federation, crime is extremely low, almost nonexistent. This is attributed to the number of individuals who sign up for service, creating a strong military rule (Brown and Maloyed). In 2017, Our crime rate in America was an estimated 1,247,321( cite website). This figure was just for the violent crimes in that year, it did not include things such as larceny or property crimes.
When it comes to civic virtue, both the Terra Federation and Americans emit civic virtue. We have a wide variety of service members, from military, to police and firefighters, as well as paramedics, doctors, even average civilians who are willing to risk their safety and lives for others. The Terra federation looks at civic virtue from a different lens. It exists, but it is only recognized in citizens, not civilians. Citizens in the Terra Federation have the courage, strength and willpower to uphold civic virtue, they look at it as their personal responsibility (Verhoeven, Starship Troopers).
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