Alien, Aliens, etc. etc. etc.
Whenever I watched the Alien movie–and for all of Sigourney Weaver’s woman-with-a-gun girl-power rocking the flick (though the second film basically made it a weirdly racialized Mommy War, with Weaver protecting the orphaned white child as her real reason for getting all gun-happy with the dark-skinned creature–I found my empathies with the Aliens. On the real, Weaver’s crew rolls up on their territory (and if I recall the movies correctly, this is on purpose) and are protecting and trying to feed their offspring. However, whatever the intentions of the crew for being in the Aliens’ side of the universe, the flicks portray their survival as worthy (“don’t let them eat us top-of-the-food-chain types”) and the Aliens’ survival is seen as unworthy, if not outright deserving annihilation. (“That’s what you get for using us top-of-the-food-chain types as your food!”) The fact that the Alien is played by a Black man adds a certain frisson and texture to the original film for me, considering it’s these flicks where fears about colonization, race (and racism!), community, and resources often play out.
I have an old thesis about a transition from technophobic to technoplilic cimena, heavily centered around an Alien-Terminator Aleins-Terminator2 axis that I’ve never written down (seriously, this dates back to 1992). Well, there is my contribution to a BoingBoing thread (on Prometheus):
Aliens did a great job at presenting a post-nuclear family unit that was tied together through electronic communication. It inverted the themes of the original movie -- ie, flesh is good (cats, food, friends), technology (computers that usurp the parental role, deadly androids, all the heating ducts the alien hid in and was invariably indistinguishable from) is bad. In Aliens, the aliens are explicitly fleshy -- the big bad alien is a Big Bad MOTHER dripping with baby-making slime, laying eggs, feeding the young, protecting the infants. The humans are connected to and through technology, they now, are indistinguishable from the electronics that defines them.
Plus, lots of explosions, woo!
However, how do we explain James Cameron’s recanting via Avatar?