Battlefield Earth Writer Apologizes: Let the Healing Begin

There’s really no such thing as “good news” when it comes to Battlefield Earth, the hulking, bloated juggernaut of Scientology-fueled cinematic mayhem that flickered briefly across movie screens in 2000 on its downward plunge to the stank-ridden pantheon of  The Most Soul-Crushing Movies Ever Made.

Those of us who actually managed to sit through the entirety of the film will never get those two precious hours of our lives back, and won’t ever look at actors like John Travolta and Forest Whitaker again without some sense of betrayal, and perhaps an uncontrolled desire for face-punching. Some of us wake in the night screaming about bewildering alien dreadlocks, as the sound of scenery being mercilessly chewed still echoes through the dark of our damaged psyches…

At this point, nothing short of a Hot Tub Time Machine or a frontal lobotomy can truly undo the damage Travolta and his cronies inflicted in bringing L. Ron Hubbard’s dubious vision to stilted, unwatchable life, but at least one man is finally owning up to his part in the mammoth, tripledecker suckfest that scars our collective consciousness to this day. In Sunday’s New York Post, screenwriter J.D. Shapiro has written a two-page apology for penning “the suckiest movie ever” (his words—but you know he’s right).

Shapiro goes on to explain that he only got involved with Scientology as a way to pick up women (charming), and that his original script was completely rewritten by Travolta and his associates, churning out the hot, Xenu-approved mess we all came to know and loathe—the film Travolta apparently envisioned as “the Schindler’s List of sci-fi.” (Seriously, Travolta? Ugh). Shapiro was then fired, but he recently turned up to accept his Razzie® award for “Worst Picture of the Decade,” leading to his apology (which you can read in its entirety here). Strange days.

Oddly enough, before this debacle, J.D. Shapiro was best known for writing Robin Hood: Men in Tights, which I admittedly have a soft spot for—it’s Mel Brooks’s last funny film, and it has a Patrick Stewart cameo! In any case, Brooks once defined the difference between comedy and tragedy in the following manner: “Tragedy is when I cut my finger. Comedy is when you walk into an open sewer and die.” All I know is, somewhere far beyond the two, there exists a fetid, pointless limbo called Battlefield Earth, and it truly stinks on ice. I guess it’s kind of nice to hear that the writer thinks so, too.


Bridget McGovern is a lit nerd, a film geek, and a complete pop culture junkie. She enjoys David Bowie, roller coasters, and Mel Brooks more than anyone probably should. Dislikes: Battlefield Earth, sharp sticks in the eye.

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