Thursday, October 01, 2015

Space Schizophrenia

Does anyone ever think about how aliens are portrayed?

There is The Day the Earth Stood Still where a powerful alien armed with a handful of diamonds (not found on this planet) is shot at and wounded as he was about to offer a present from the galactic worlds from whence the alien came. The whole point of the movie/story is that now that Earth has split the atom and is about to venture into space they must make a choice to abide by the galactic rules or have Gort, the silent, massive and somewhat enigmatic robot cop blast them into atoms or at the very least chain humans to the planet Earth so that they may not venture forth and spread their violence and chaos into the galaxy at large.

Contrast that theme with the many others that followed where Martians attacked the Earth to subjugate its peoples only to fall prey to the common cold, spreading chaos, fear, and devastation in their wake beneath the beams of their tripod war machines. Then there are the myriad species that have conquered the Earth and subjugated its peoples from L. Ron Hubbard's overlords to Independence Day when the alien invaders once again succumb to a virus, but this time a computer virus uploaded to their central computer which is much like a hive mind, or at least interconnected and thus vulnerable.

It bothers me that on the one hand humans are seen as violent and without equal in their ability to spread chaos and devastation throughout a peacefully settled galaxy that must be contained, or at the very least taught to control their very human and equally violent impulses, while on the other hand we are constantly at the mercy of warlike monsters that want to bomb our planet with radioactive meteorites (Star Blazers) or take over and enslave the people for some 4th dimension farmers we cannot see who have been busily remodeling our DNA in favor of planetary water that favors estrogen and females to the more warlike males so that we may be more easily herded like cattle (Invasion: Earth).

Oh, there are still Vulcans making first contact to bring us into Starfleet and the world of warp travel and spaceships that double as condos for adventuring scientists and adventurers like the Star Trek galaxy of TV shows. There still remains, however, that oh, so schizophrenic mind set that we are either beings living on a backwater planet that must be subjugated or a dangerous violent stew brewing chaos for a peaceful galaxy. Which is it?

I think it all comes down to one thing: what sells the most because after all the end product is to be consumed by the viewer. Our movies and stories are as divided as our fictional fare and our politics and all must be placated, or at least mollified by a product that will suit -- and sell. The same type of program will not suit the far left still believing that communism will work (evidently only having read the perfect society set forth by Karl Marx) and continuing to pooh-pooh George Orwell's Animal Farm on the realities -- and misappropriation of applied communism.  There are the far right who, much like the ostrich, prefer to hide their heads in the sand until the world is forced to capitulate and come back to its stone age senses when lifetimes were shorter and every day a struggle to survive. There are the ecologists who forget that ancient humans help to extinguish many species of animals in fashioning cloaks of bird feathers of only one specific kind of bird or engaged in driving entire herds of buffalo off steep cliffs, not to satisfy their hunger and store up food for the winter, but so that the buffalo would not communicate with other herds of buffalo that the two-legged animals brandishing the sticks with sharp points were dangerous and should be run over in a stampede for safety -- for the buffalo.

Maybe the dichotomy between what we hope for -- a peaceful galaxy where all life lives together in harmony and plenty -- and the reality that the galaxy is a dangerous place with beings far more violent and intent on inflicting torture on species beginning their first forays into the vastness of space is the way it was meant to be. We are creatures beset by fears of what is and what may be and yet still believe in magic and the innocence of youth. Oh, there are those who will defile the innocent and the youth in the name of purity and religion and expediency, but show me another race of beings that have not done the same.

We remain fearful and expect violence while nurturing the tiny guttering spark of hope just as Pandora did when the gods gave her that box from which she loosed all the ills -- and the hopes -- of mankind. How can we expect less thousands of years later in our furnished and overflowing homes while still wedded to the fear? After all, there are still thinking plants mutated by a meteor storm into huge walking (or root dragging) monsters that see humans as food, especially the ones blinded by the meteor shower that jump started their DNA and evolution and spores and ancient astronauts thawed from Arctic ice that thrive on human blood and dragons and orcs and the all pervasive bacteria that some mad scientist cooked up in a lab and imparted grandiose dreams of taking over to guard against and battle. And then there are zombies. There are always zombies.

That is all. Disperse.

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