We're about two months into 2010 and amidst the persistent malaise of a recessionizied world, the persistent and all-pervasive fear of imminent destruction at mad terrorist hands and a creeping culture-shock of failed anticipation wherein we are finally realizing that the 21st century isn't quite the jet-packs and moon-city future we'd all come to hope for, I nonetheless expect that we can probably all agree that Arthur C.Clarke can go eff himself. "The Year We Make Contact", indeed, 2010 has been stultifyingly shy of extra-terrestrial bonhomme. Still, it's probably only a matter of time until some ominous mothership from a faraway world gets it in its mind to hover over our major city centers or - assuming we're taking our lessons from movies "with a message" - vomit up its sentient off-planet cargo to integrate uncomfortably into the great human melting pot. So, with that in mind, let's prepate ourselves with a list of valuable lessons that the movies have taught us about aliens.
(P.S. "The Great Human Melting Pot" is the Venusian military's primary weapon in the arsenal prepared for their imminent invasion, according to a precognizant psychic flash of the future which I just pretended to have)
I can't say for certain whose cat we plowed when we first slipped the surly bonds of Earth and entered orbit back in the early days of the space race, but it must have been a doozy of a feline-frigging.
Aliens start their lives hating our guts, right from the moment of inception. According to the film Alien (which is about aliens), the deadly and vicious Xenomorphs have not only evolved a system of gestation and birth which brutally prey upon the human being, but add to it the humiliation factor of a pie in the face or a splash of seltzer in the phiz. "Smell these eggs," the embryonic aliens seem to be saying, "No, a little closer."
The bulk of the relationships established between man and moon-monster over the last cinematic half-century seems focused on a group of creatures so determind to hand us our asses that they'll fly the width of the known galaxy to do so. Personally, I can't bother my own ass to cross the karaoke bar and clock the dippy sonofabitch who keeps slaughtering "Paradise City", and that guy really deserves it. On the other hand, travelling to our front doorstep in order to wax us in bulk gives aliens a rare but enjoyable opportunity to immolate popular character actor Randy Quaid, so they've got that going for them.
Along these lines, aliens also badmouth human beings after we leave the party, leave vaseline on our toilet seats, put bits of scotch tape on our cats and hit on our girlfriends while we're off getting drinks (see #7 below)
It's either that they don't have the technology to actually illuminate a whole hallway all at once, or they're into coffeehouse lighting.
Strangely, aliens can travel at incredible speeds across the vast gulf of eternity and use weapons beyond our comprehension to abduct, probe or just generally murder us, and yet none of them match my personal capacity to drive down to Target and pick up a torchiere lamp and a couple of flourescent bulbs. Advantage: Me (until the aliens break out the aforementioned weapons, in which case, Advantage: aliens).
Using science, I have calculated that the reason alien ships are often so dark and gloomy owes a great deal to their method of faster-than-light travel. Since light can only travel at approxiamately 186,000 miles per second, but spaceships clearly travel much faster, all of their well-lit rooms are still on their way to the ships' destinations. So, out around Alpha Centauri or so, there's a space-ship sized block of pinking ambient light moving towards us with ominous speeds (wherein it'll probably kick our butts, see #6).
Despite the fact that you can count on a human being to copiously drool, spit, salivate, cry, sweat, pee, puke, huck dumps, ooze, drip, snot, ejaculate, hose off and generally grease up, we're still clearly the least humid of God's great intergalactic zoo.
Aliens have the mucous membranes of slugs - and plenty of them. You could run a tap into the extraterrestrial antagonist of any random big-budget sci-fi Summer blockbuster and pull in more snot in an hour than a nation of hay-fever sufferers could produce in a year.
This has always left me wondering why the heroes of alien-encounter films never capitalize on the gooey nature of space aliens - all those dripping mucus membranes aren't there to lube them up so they can go down the slides at the waterpark better, it's there to keep them moist! A bottle of witch hazel and a packet of salt could go a long way towards normalizing human/alien relations in the manner where "normalize" means "make them explode basically."
Here's how your average alien encounter movie works: Alien chases human through dark alleys, through dark hallways, through dark city streets, through dark circulation vents, through dark jungles, in dark forests, under the dark sand, in the dark water - trudging, tromping, stomping, footing it all the way. Then, at the end of the movie, they get in their big galaxy-spanning UFO and fly to the ends of the universe in half an hour flat, and that's only if it's rush hour.
For all their technological wonders, it's amazing that no alien has ever considered the invention of rollerblades, a bicycle, a vespa, or even a Segway. The closest they get is giant jet-sized fighters which are really nothing more than an invitation for Will Smith to fatally Aw Hell Naw them from the cockpit of an F-16.
Take, as an example, Predator, the boozed-up big game hunter of the universe. He doesn't have a Chevy Blazer 4x4? Where's his big ugly truck? Where's his gun rack? Where's his garbage Toshiba radio blaring Toby Keith? The Amish have better ground transport than most aliens.
What purpose it serves, I dunno, but the biggest, most bad-ass aliens in the movies are always the texturous ones. If you've got an alien with spines, scales, slints, bumps, shingles, splints, needles, stickers, burrs, ridges, vents, veins, sticky-outty ribs or pokey-little-standy-up things - you've got superior species.
Aliens - ridged, vented, scored, bumpy, crosshatched, spiny: overall rating - they kick ass.
Predators - spotty, tusky, scaly, all dreads, teeth and claws: overall rating - they kick ass.
E.T. - flabby, hairless, droopy: overall rating - gets sick after one beer.
Think about those wimp-sick Close Encounter aliens - smooth as a baby's tuckus. Also, brittle-limbed and willow-hipped. And for all his gummy wrinkles, E.T. was still a chubby little midget with the texture of play-doh. Either of these alien races, my grandmother could punch them out. Proportionate response is the solution here: Nukes for the Predators, baseball bats for Greys.
To compile a list of all the alien races which have ground-roasted our delicate Terran hindquarters, I'd need the manpower of the US Intelligence Services. Suffice it to say, however, we'd probably be lucky if we got out of the aforementioned fight with E.T. without a scratch ("Ow, Jesus, he's hurling bicycles at us!").
Even when we do beat the aliens - and we usually do, but then again, who wants to spend money on a ticket just to watch the home team lose? There's not that many fans of the Detroit Lions in the whole world - it's always by the skin of our teeth. We're always the underdogs, technologically, biologically ... when do we get to pick a fight with short asthmatic aliens? Who have fallen arches? Who have tubes in their ears and so you can't get them wet, so stop splashing or they'll tell mom. Seriously. It's an important question.
And in that respect, we're not really that different now, are we?
Mars Needs Women, but then again, so do most of us. I could use two or three, myself, for weekends and pick up basketball games.
It used to be that aliens held out their most lascivious, laconic pursuit and preying for the female targets - men could get offed in a few seconds, but women would be chased around corridors, slipping and sliding through grease and water, divesting slowly of their clothes until the alien closes in, slowly, salivating ... it was snuff porn for alien enthusiasts. But besides teaching us that capitlistic imperialism and materialism are bad in a way that only the material product of a capitalist empire could, Avatar also taught us that lady aliens like-a the dick. I suppose it also taught us that aliens have sort-of eastern European accents and who needs a story if you've got hot smurfs, but mostly, the dick.
Let's hope that lesson, above all others, gives us the key knowledge necessary to stay one step ahead of any potential alien aggressors, and also hope that they have the common courtesy to at least be exactly like Hollywood pretends they are, because if they aren't, I got nothing.