Almost everyone recognizes that science fiction and horror are frequently used as tools for social commentary. We have all seen many issues argued in distant times and places with a variety of alien and human solutions or non-solutions. Sometimes though, stories are written that can be re-interpreted in ways not intended by the author (or perhaps it is, and that is the joke on us!)
Let us explore, for example, the movie Alien. When I first saw it at the drive-in as a young teen I had nightmares. Here is our hero Ripley trapped on a spaceship with a virtually invulnerable opponent with a rather disturbing life cycle. It was horrifying and claustrophobic, but after the movie I knew nothing like that would happen in real life.
Or so I thought…
As years went by I re-analyzed what I had seen in that movie. I had come to the realization that it was a mere exaggeration of something very familiar to most of us.
Something Disturbingly Familiar About Alien and Other “Horror” Science Fiction Movies…
What tripped me to this conclusion was actually another movie called Species. Many will remember the scene where the child of the creature is sitting in a cavern and sees a rat. The child’s tongue shoots out like a frog’s, seizes the rat and then the child contentedly starts chowing down on its prey.
I remember looking around the theatre at that point and realizing that there was a split in the reactions to what had occurred. About half the audience, younger singles on dates and teens, were ‘grossed out’ by the child eating the rat.
But the other half … oh, the other half …
They consisted of parents with younger kids, and were somewhat amused and glanced knowingly at each other as if to say “Oh yeah, we caught junior doing that just the other day.”
The Plot Sounds Vaguely Familiar …
Alien begins when our intrepid heroes first arrive on the alien planet. John Hurt is intrigued by the eggs that they find and is drawn closer as they open enticingly …
Think back to the first time you fell in love. Young people are enticed or seduced by the opposite sex, aroused by mysteries that they have never experienced and to which they are almost helplessly drawn. For many, the suddenness of what happens next is frequently frightening, shocking, unexpected, and ultimately all too predictable. Something’s got you by the head and is ramming something down your throat!
Following the disappointing and shocking introduction to sex, many discover after a while that now they are pregnant, despite whatever precautions they may have taken (such as environmental suits). The pregnancy now progresses at an astonishing pace – one minute you are eating your salad, the next you are on your back giving birth. You never got a chance to really prepare yourself, never mind the fact that the baby’s room wasn’t painted yet!
The birthing experience to the uninitiated appears to occur much as it did with Mr. Hurt. There are sudden pangs, followed by the urge to push, there are people rushing every which way and everyone is trying to have a hand in taking charge. Then, despite all that everyone has done or said, the baby comes out in its own way.
I will admit however that babies tend not to perform their own Caesareans! But, then there is some blood, some screaming, and the next thing you know the baby has been rushed from the room.
The Life Cycle of an ‘Alien’
We have all heard how quickly children grow up, and our little alien is no different. It seems like in no time at all you have a sulky teenager on your hands. Also, other things have occurred during the raising of the child. Think about the plot of Alien versus your life with kids:
- Many of your pre-pregnancy friends have simply vanished into the darkness, never to be seen again.
- Others around you offer much advice that is simply ridiculous, especially since they obviously have not been through the same experiences as you have.
- As infants, they leave drool all over the place
- You spend a lot of time worrying about where exactly junior is and what he or she is up to.
- (Insert your own comparison in the comments below!)
Before you are really ready, of course, it is time to send junior on his way in the world. He has practically eaten you out of house and home. With all your friends gone he has become the sole focus of your life. But you realize that if you want to save that little nest egg you call your retirement you are going to have to get him out of the house.
Some parents actually decide to leave their homes to their children and move on to smaller more manageable places. Of course, many children reject this as the home can become overwhelming for them and can quickly depreciate beyond their ability to maintain. Some children will in fact attempt to continue living with their parents and this can lead to an unhealthy relationship in some cases.
In the end, of course, you are forced to ‘space’ the child, and after some grieving over how you could have done things better, you realize that you will probably still worry about them.
However, when you finally have the place to yourself for the first time in what feels like years, you can get some much needed, if fitful, sleep.
So, the next time you watch Alien with your partner, look at each other every now and then, and nod knowingly to each other!
By Curtis Heinrichs. Curtis is a proud Dad of two rambuntious teenage sons, and he’s always worrying just what they could be up to next …