Alien is a beautiful movie because it has everything you could want and then some stuff you didn’t know you wanted. Psychosexual alien? Check. Space truckers? Yes. STRONG female protagonist? Done. Evil milk-bleeding saboteur robot? Of course. (I liked you better when you were Bilbo Baggins, Ian Holm.)
I think like most science fiction movies, Alien is about the future but it’s also about right now. The Bell-Metereau article makes this really clear by examining the very-dated critical responses to the film when it was first released. We see a lot of sexism in the male writers—if not outright misogyny—which makes sense considering their views on women predate the Korean War. It’s unfortunate that they accurately reflect the times, and even more of a bummer that they were likely shared by most men (and some women, sad when stereotypes are internalized) in this country. The late 70’s were begging for a cultural intervention, and I think we can all agree that Sigourney Weaver was the lady to give it to them.
Alien, a film where a woman is the only survivor and a heroine in her own right, was desperately needed to challenge the troubling opinions expressed by some of those reviewers. Because it so thoroughly addresses the reigning sexism of the day (going as far as to terrify its broski viewers by subjecting them to not only male rape but also a gruesome male birth), it’s hard to argue that it exists exclusively in the realm of a typical slasher movie (I mean, the “slasher” jumped out of John Hurt’s chest like an hour ago, but like, let’s call a spade a spade).
Anyway, enough about feminism.*
The perfection of this movie, for me at least, is that even though I never watch scary movies, and have rarely enjoyed the ones I’ve seen, watching Alien is like a compulsion. I think it has to do with the seamless building of tension throughout the film. It’s creepy from the jump (why are there no words for the first five minutes? Because Scott is letting your imagination do the heavy lifting for him), and then slowly unravels to reveal sheer panic (today I can clearly see it’s a guy in a rubber suit but I was defo terrified the first time I watched it).
You know, there’s not a moment in the film where you don’t feel uncomfortable. Most of the setting is dark, and all of it is claustrophobic. Even when they leave the ship they’re trapped in those foggy jumpsuits. There’s limited scoring in the film, but there’s often spooky sounds like dripping water, tinkling chains, hissing steam, scraping metal or sirens that maintain a level of uneasiness even when little is happening on screen, or is happening slowly. And it’s a confusing world they inhabit: technology has elements of the organic (Ash), the organic has elements of technology (the alien), and neither should be trusted. It makes it hard to get your bearings.
And don’t forget the reason everything gets wonky to begin with is that corporations care about profiteering more than human life. That is gospel, ask Big Tobacco. Could not have said it better myself, and God bless them for icing the cake with that thematic element.
*Or not, so here’s a weird aside; I read online (okay, yeah, that’s an apocryphal origin if ever there was one) about a planned love scene between Ripley and Dallas, and I think it’s fortunate they cut that. Not because women can’t be actualized AND express their sexuality, but because I think at a time when you’re breaking down barriers, and those barriers including objectifying other people/seeing them first and foremost as sexual opportunity/fantasy, it’s good to defy that expectation. With that said, today I would be interested to see a femme woman—not one who needs to appear androgynous or adopt the definition of power created by men to be taken seriously—in a role like this. Something that redefines our present conception of a competent woman (READ: masculine in disposition), much like the original did, would be interesting to me. Like Zoey Deschanel in Alien5, except the “5” is reversed so it’s read “Aliens”—super modern.
|—||My new favorite neologism for when I’ve been editing too long and can’t look at the computer anymore.|
does anyone have an ello invite???
i want an ello invite too, please!
No but seriously, does anyone who reads this know what’s going on with that site/willing to invite me? I want to be a part of the disrupted social network economy.
An excerpt from my review of The Day the Earth Stood Still remake, in which it is clear I am not enjoying this class as one would have imagined.
For me, the most telling thing about this movie was that despite a handful of semi-interesting observations about the times, it was still stupid. I don’t even know why, maybe because it’s like, real, real corny? (“It’s Bach.” “It’s beautiful.”) Or maybe because Keanu has all the ominous presence of Rick Moranis? I dunno, his blank-slate stare doesn’t read as otherworldly to me, so much as maybe overmedicated? Like, for a hybrid alien man whose sole purpose is to pull the trigger (and philosophize over a cup of tea with an Asian guy in a McDonald’s, because that makes sense) he looks incredibly bored.
Also, when I was watching it, it was hard to believe that this super intelligence alien race wouldn’t be smart enough to know that black and white corporal punishment is shortsighted and basically fascist? I’m supposed to believe that they’re enlightened enough to build a nanotech robot that can scour the earth of all humans, AND they have intergalactic travel capabilities but they deem it appropriate to take a totalitarian approach to policing the universe? I hate that.
|—||This weird cult documentary about Jim Baker. Strongest Boy, lol.|
This weekend I met Michael’s mom for the first time. She was an absolute sweetheart and one of the few parents I’ve met who didn’t rely on criticism (implicit or otherwise) as her primary form of communication. She was also forthcoming in a way I’ve rarely seen. It was really lovely.
It bums me out when people talk about the fair on social media because the fair is a special kind of happiness and I’m not there.
|—||Michael, frustrated that the blender we ordered a month ago from Amazon is nowhere to be found.|
Standing here waiting for the bus, two bros drove up in an SUV and asked me if I wanted to “make a hundred bucks in the morning.” I am not exaggerating when I say I have no idea what the fuck that means. I declined because I imagine there’s no activity on earth that ends with $100 in the morning and starts with an offer the night before from two randos that wouldn’t skeeze me out in a way I might never recover from. Personal safety first and always.
Six of one, half a dozen of the other. Amiright?!