One disturbing thing about popular critical discourse around Verhoeven
is that this discussion takes no serious account of the films Verhoeven
made *before* he came to Hollywood. Anyone who has seen *Soldier of
Orange*, *Spetters*, *The Fourth Man* and *Turkish Delight* will readily
observe that he is a more complex, interesting and serious filmmaker
than observers of his American films might guess.
The brouhaha over *Basic Instinct* took place as if the same man had
not directed *Spetters* and *The Fourth Man*, which are many
things--graphically sexual, vulgar, hilarious--but not homophobic.
Paul Verhoeven is one of those oddities with whom critics would rather
not deal: a director of enormous talent who also has incredibly bad
taste. We are accustomed to directors whose talent is proportional to a
reasonable sense of etiquette. Verhoeven has much of the former and
almost none of the latter. I for one find this refreshing.
While I'm not sure if irony is an apt word for discussing the attitude
a viewer could profitably take towards Verhoeven's work, it might be
better than dismissal. Verhoeven affronts us, but I for one don't think
he should be dismissed.
Edward R. O'Neill
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