Why does everyone resort to aliens in recent sci-fi/gov/end of the world movies?Because aliens are easy. People do not question aliens as the villains, because, despite all our efforts to acknowledge our difficulty in understanding and dealing with the human/Other dichotomy, we are still as xenophobic as ever, regardless of race or gender. Aliens represent the ultimate Other, the figure that is so clearly not human, that any human argument cannot figure them into a human version of the human/Other dichotomy. Similar logic allows for the continued discrimination against animals—because they are not “human,” and, thus, do not, under any circumstance, deserve the same rights as you or me. We are human, they are not, and no matter how hard you might want to argue for their humanness, we will always refute it with DNA evidence, a factor we can no longer use to apply to people of color (no logical genetic variations exist in the various “races” to adequately provide evidence for the argument that we are different).
The alien, thus, is the easiest target to choose, especially in harder times. Hollywood is remarkable at knowing viewer trends. They have people somewhere who watch viewer habits to determine how they will react to movies under different situations. It seems that they have determined that we really don’t need any more instances of human error in our end of the world stories, or even in a lot of our science fiction (w/ exception to certain movies). Aliens offer a way out, a way of saying “now you have a bad guy who doesn’t exist, who, as far as we, cannot actually harm any of you or do any of the things in our movie.” After all, why worry about the rights of imaginary creatures?
Why indeed. They’re aliens. Fictional aliens. There’s no need for us to ponder the possibility of their existence, nor how we might treat them if, by a stroke of luck, we meet one of these strange creatures.
But, to be fair to Hollywood, they are on a remake kick, and much of the films that fit into this category of “the aliens did it” are re-imagined tellings of old movies, such as The Day the Earth Stood Still and even Knowing, which was not a direct remake, but certainly a rehash of a story that has been told numerous times before (heck, even Childhood’s End by Arthur C. Clarke has an ending which reflects very much the bizarre final moments of that Nicholas Cage flick).
These are my arguments, though, and certainly not absolutes. Anyone reading this is welcome to chime in if you have a different opinion (or the same opinion). Just be thankful that we’re not resorting to old giant monster clichés…oh, nevermind, there was Cloverfield, a bastardization of the genre by the evil and craptastic J. J. Abrams. Seems like science fiction movies are in full rehash mode.
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