Wednesday, October 10, 2007

HALO 3 as allegory


Never underestimate the power of human stupidity. ---- Robert A. Heinlein

This is a different kind of post for me. Usually I could give a crap about games. But I asked one of my writing students about Robert Heinlein and he hadn't a clue--and this is after he regaled me with tales of Master Chief (and how some fools didn't know that "master chief" is a US Navy enlisted rank). Well, I'm wondering why Robert A. Heinlein's widow and estate have not sued the hell out of the creator of this game. See, Robert Heinlein wrote a novel in the 1950s called Starship Troopers. Yeah, that same story that Paul Verhoeven butchered into a film with heavyweights Casper Van Dien and Charlie Sheen's crazy ass wife. Kids, the novel was nothing like the movie. And kids, this book...yeah, a book...was one of the the seminal sci fi stories of all time. You can trance plot lines, terminology and iconic phrases in everything from Star Trek to Star Wars and back again...hell, even Full Metal Jacket...back to this novel. That's not my opinion. That is fact.
Of course, we have a generation of dweebs and layabouts who do nothing but play these games and do not expand their minds on the literature and history that gave them rise. But there's something our non-reading generation's not hip to, behind the scenes. My sister's boyfriend is getting his degree in game design, and guess what? Required courses in literature, history, mythology,philosophy and religion are the order of the day. Do the techno-nerds whine when faces with this? Hell yes. Are the games better now because of this liberal artsy-fartsy focus? Hell yes.
Look, we have parents who gave their kids the day off from school to buy this damn game, and no one knows it's a rip off of Starship Troopers right down to the body armor, deployment and even the weapons (recall Heinlein wrote this in the 50s, when the weaponry of the game was even more out-there!) The game's creator reminds me of the authors of "street fiction" and rauchy stuff in African American Lit. It's all about the "me," as if they invented something fresh and enduring! Ha! ell at least HALO dude's getting paid, as if getting paid's ever an excuse for this. Look, I've even been told that books are dead...hey, HALO 3's arrival is the second coming of Christ almost. This, by the same sort of consumerist zombified crap that hypes Hannah Montana as bigger than the Beatles. No. Master Chief is the second coming of Johnny Rico. Who's that Johnny Rico? Read the damn book...

8 comments:

nyc/caribbean ragazza said...

Some parents let their kids stay home from school so they could buy a video game? Are you joking?

lance williams, sr said...

Bruh, yes, I have PS2 and yes I have HALO 3. Master Chief's face was modeled on mine, actually (okay you got me there). I have ever seen this book but certainly peeped the campy-ass flick. Now that you have shamed me, I'm going to hit the li-berry--we still have a card due to our kid--and find it. I'm assuming it's in the same vein as Isaac Asimov and Ray Bradbury? My wife reads Octavia Butler.

NYC: I can attest to that stay home from work or school phenom in the Bay area. It certainly wasn't the rule but it did happen. I pre-ordered my copy from amazon.com several months ago and it came on time. Yes, my son, my frats and I played for about five hours...

Anonymous said...

You neglected to mention that Heinlein, although one of the greatest SciFi writers of all time, was also a fucking fascist. You even see little strains of that in the stupid movie.

Nevertheless, good post. I wondered about HALO and Troopers myself. I'm a "beginning" gamer, but I wonder what's next. A game about some dudes chasing a white whale? It will called "Whale Bane," and the creator will boast of his creativity, originality and million dollar bonus at Comic-Con! When someone mentions "Moby Dick" everyone can shout that person down and call them "old." (smile)

Snowman said...

Big Heinlien fan here! I am also an old dinosaur but I do play Madden Football. I agree 100% but, as a senior citizen, my opinion is a drop of oil in the ocean!

IndespensibleDestiny said...

Heinlein had his fascist streaks and was also labeled a mysgonist. I have several female cohorts that rail against "Friday," one of my favorites.

I mentioned to you before the the Starship Troopers flick was OK if one had not read or had forgotten the novel. Camp can be good for the soul.

Heinlein's novels do not translate to the silver screen. "Stranger" would be a disaster in any land. "Friday" might be made, but also damaged. Forget about "Cats" or "Moon," they are untouchableby film.

Anonymous said...

Lighten up Nat Turner! It's just playtime!

Anonymous said...

We have to school you.

tchaka owen said...

Starship Troopers would win an Academy Award......if the criteria was nonstop and and nonsensical shooting of mechanized bugs.

Is there a better quote in Hollywood than, "The only good bug is a dead bug!"?