Ghouls are revisiting aliens from a new lens - what do aliens want with us? How likely are we to meet aliens? Could they finally unite humans against a common enemy? Why are they so darn attractive? We watched Earth Girls Are Easy, Freaks of Nature and Attack the Block.
So we’ve gone pretty hard in the most recent episodes and we kinda need an emotional break so we’ve stepped briefly away from the intense world-is-awful narratives and found a fun way to say it instead. With ALIENS. Let us have this!
RED: Quotes, someone else's words.
Kat's Facts - How close are we to discovering Aliens?
Alright so we’ve talked about a lot of future stuff, most of it like EVERYTHING IS SCARY, WE HAVE RUN OUT OF TIME, AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH
Well good news, we ain’t there yet with Aliens, so we can probs chill out a little bit.
All the places I looked kind of agreed there are aliens out there, that in the vast universe, it’s likely other life exists, and that there are other planets that can support life of some kind. What that life looks like is largely a mystery. They found super dead microbes from mars a while back which was cool cause it showed we had life on other planets at SOME point, but lots of people didn’t really care, mostly cause it wasn’t actual alien life they found, or evidence of a sentient
Gabe's Film Analysis - aliens can mean different things in media
We tried to watch In Her Own Skin with Scarjo but our hearts just weren’t in it. We’ll have to do it another time when we have the emotional energy. But as you may’ve guessed, aliens can mean different things in media. We’ve covered aliens in the past and talked about some of the theories about them arriving and us falling in love with them (remember the guy who painted portraits of his hot alien wife and his children?). Well, we didn’t really get to talk about what an alien invasion would actually mean to us.
Historically, we’ve seen aliens find their way to earth for the same 3 or 4 motives. 1. Their own planet is in trouble and they can no longer repopulate - so let’s find the women of earth and make some alien-human hybrids! 2. They are so much more intelligent with us, they are at the top of the food chain and have to make a decision - do humans get to live or do they need to die because they are a threat? 3. Science experiments! What are these meat-bags made of? What can they do?
In our Alien Imposters episode we touched on the first point. I want to focus on some of the funnier and more entertaining films that I surprisingly found deeper than I originally expected. Well, besides Earth Girls Are Easy which was just a fun time!
I’ll start with Freaks of Nature which is another film we stumbled upon that I found was super fun and an instant favorite. I enjoyed the dialogue throughout and it was fun. BUT what I really got from it was this idea I always had when I thought about aliens. I would say, I wish aliens did show up because then we would rally together (Independence Day-style) to fight our mutual enemy. Afterall, we are all humans. District 9 showed how prejudice would look if the invading race wasn’t overpowering us and we got our grubby hands on them - putting them in concentration-like camps and having a new other to abuse. (Remember kids, if it’s a monster - it's probably a representation of a minority or disenfranchised group in history!).
In Freaks of Nature, this idea is threaded into the logline, It’s humans vs. zombies vs. vampires VS aliens. And of course, they only succeed when they come together against their common enemy. It says they got along beforehand but they really didn’t! It was the kind of supernatural species-blind society the world is convinced they live in now. Ignoring the differences does not help anyone or improve anything. My favorite part however, is the end when we have this extraterrestrial give the fated monologue about how humans would bring their own demise and that we’re monsters and should learn to be better. To which it is met with a big F You. Who are you to tell us how to live our lives? Coming in all high and mighty! Which then results in the earth-creatures fighting back. This film is fun and there’s a lot going on about identity (vampire girl), racism (against other supernatural species), capitalism (riblets!), classism (Dennis Leary & zombie boys family) and the family-unit when you look hard with your analysis-glasses but you can also take them off and enjoy some good goofs.
NOW let’s hop on over to my actual new favorite (Freaks of Nature is a fun campy ride but it's no Attack the Block).
Attack the Block is a great breath of fresh air in the alien genre. I think we should do an alien specific series in the future where we dive into each and I can talk more about this film. But I will talk about my favorite parts for now. We start the film with our heroes behaving rather villainously. This group of children, which by the 13th Doctor’s reaction and anticipation this is a common occurrence in this area, rob Jodie Whittaker because she presumably hasn’t figured out how to timey-wimey her way out of it.
It's an interesting dynamic that is set immediately where we follow these young hoodlums as they then kill a monster from out of space - acting rashly as children are one to do. The strengths of this film isn’t the (interesting and super fun) gore/horror from these gorilla-like blue-teethed aliens but rather from the character dynamics and the very human story we get between the murder by space-monkey. With the character, Moses (John Boyega) we see the growth of a young boy in living in a lower-income residential housing unit (the block) who has been under the influence of many older and corrupts adults in lieu of his absent family. As his friends slowly start dying around him, he is confronted with the truth that it is from his own actions that his friends are suffering. That his reckless killing of the alien (or any number of the minor crimes that led to the larger crime of selling hard drugs) led his friends, who clearly idolize him (the leader) and want to be what he wants them to be would be led along with him down this dark path. Seeing his first smile - equated to when he was given the big boy job of selling hard drugs really encompasses this boy’s life.
Even more telling is the scene where 13 is in his apartment to set the gas for the final attack. She asks several times if anyone is coming home, he says no. She asks if he has a younger brother after seeing his bedroom with very young boy bed dressings, he answers no. She asks how old he is and he says fifteen. And that’s it really. This scene hits so hard. Because we’ve had these boys running amok, lovable in their own way but there’s these subtleties like when Moses is “apologizing” for robbing 13 but he flubs it saying something along the lines of, “If I knew you lived here - we never would’ve.” Which is to say, they don’t go after their own - only those they presume have it better and can afford to give up these items. 13 calls him out, that this isn’t a good way to go about it. But his friend, Pest, butts in to tell her, “Hey, can’t you see he’s trying to apologize.” He is a young boy who only understands the world he’s been stuck in, a world of dog eat monster-alien-monkey world and he is having his own growth here. Give him a break, Docta.
Even before he realizes it is the pheromones attracting them, it is quickly deduced that the aliens are following Moses and his friends. Tia, the girl he clearly has eyes for and has such a reasonable and mature head on her shoulders (honestly the most put together character in this film, wish there was more for then to move the story forward and to help the main character but oh well), tells him like it is - that trouble follows him and she is clearly disgusted to hear he robbed Sam, I mean Doctor Who, and is becoming another product of his environment. Suffice to say, the aliens represent law enforcement, danger, the drug war, etc - things thrown into these already vulnerable areas and used to turn them against one another as it actively happens in film. When you try to get out - they come for you. Hell, Moses even says it - “No, I reckon yeah, I reckon, the Feds sent them anyway. Government probably bred those things to kill black boys. First they sent in drugs, then they sent guns and now they're sending monsters in to kill us. They don't care man. We ain't killing each other fast enough. So they decided to speed up the process.”
What I am saying is, Trust bruv.
Media from this week's episode:
Earth Girls are Easy (1988) Director: Julien Temple
In this musical comedy, Valerie is dealing with her philandering fiance, Ted, when she finds that a trio of aliens have crashed their spaceship into her swimming pool. Once the furry beings are shaved at her girlfriend’s salon, the women discover three handsome men underneath. After absorbing the native culture via television, the spacemen are ready to hit the dating scene in 1980s Los Angeles. Freaks of Nature (2015) Director: Robbie Pickering
Vampires, Humans and Zombies used to get along in Dillford, but then something unexpected arrived and now it’s humans vs. Vampires vs. Zombies in all-out mortal combat. It’s up to three teenagers to try to get things back to normal.
Attack the Block (2011) Director: Joe Cornish
South London teenagers defend their neighborhood from malevolent extraterrestrials.
Baby John Boyega!