Lecture 10: Who are the reel aliens? Professor Daniel Bernardi / Professor Michelle Martinez 1 In the last lecture Crossover Theory Selena and Selena
Jennifer Lopezs Cross-over Appeal 2 In this lecture Types, Metaphors, & Allegories Aliens & Hispanics Blade Runner (1982)
Shot from Star Wars: Episode I (1999) You can pause the lecture at any point, click on one of the hyperlinks (text that is underlined) to visit a site or view a clip, and then return to the same point in the lecture when youre ready. 3 Types, Metaphors & Allegories Spock (Leonard Nimoy) and Kirk ( William Shatner) in the original Star Trek (1966-69) Lecture 10: Part 1 4
Remember Definition of Genre Stated simply, genre movies are those commercial feature films which, through repetition and variation, tell familiar stories with familiar characters in familiar situations. They also encourage expectations and experiences similar to those of similar films we have already seen. - Berry Keith Grant 5 Key Questions to Ask
What are the visual features/motifs? What are the narrative features/discourses? What are audience expectations/Triangles? Shot from Blade Runner (1982) 6 Remember the Western Types
WASP Mainstream Ethnic Margin The Native African Americans Mexicans & Mexican Americans Scar (Henry Brandon) from The Searchers (1956) 7 Science Fiction Types
White Hero Like Western Colored Humans in Background Also Like Western Sympathetic Alien E.T. (1982) Star Wars Series
Destructive Alien Aliens (1986) Independence Day (1996) 8 Critical Categories Representation of Humans White Heroes Colored Others
Representation of Aliens Racial Metaphors Destructive (coloreds) Racial Metaphors Sympathetic (whites) Narrative Socio-Political Allegory (multiculturalism?) The Future as History Click Here to See Scene from the original Star Trek (1966-1969) 9
Classic Sympathetic Alien The Day the Earth St ood Still (1951) God-like Aliens Come to Earth Klaatu/Carpenter (white male) Message of Unity During Cold War
Christ Allegory Shot from The Day the Earth Stood Still (1951) Click Here to See Scene from The Day the Earth Stood Still (1951) 10 Quintessential Destructive Alien Aliens (1986) Racial Metaphor Black w/ Stereotypical
Racial Phenotypes Racial Allegory Overpopulating Welfare Queen Shots from Aliens (1986) Click Here to See Scene from Aliens (1986) 11 And the Humans
Aliens (1986) White Heroine Maternal Strong yet Beautiful Colorful Background African Americans all Die First (common) Chicana Macho Shots from Aliens (1986)
Click Here to See Scene from Aliens (1986) 12 And the Narrative: White Future-Time Contact Xenophobia Assimilation
Time Travel Fixing Past to Save Future Attacking Past to Defeat Future The Future Success of Liberal-Humanism 13 Ram Ram rez Bergs Questions What does the Alien in these SF films signify? What does the introduction of the Sympathetic Alien mean? And in what ways is the SF alien connected
to Hispanic imagery in American film? Shot from Blade Runner (1982) 14 Remember Semiotics Signifier: Recognizable Part of the Sign Signified: Mental Image After Receiving the Signifier / The Concept it Represents For example: The word or image alien" is the signifier,
and the concept of an alien is the signified. The two together constitute a sign. 15 Semiotic Process From Noodle Tools 16 Relationship of Signifier to Signified
Arbitrary: The word and image alien arent inherently connected to the mental image of an extra terrestrial or a human; that relationship is structured through the evolution of language systems (words and images) in relation to social and individual perception. Historical: The relationship of signifier to signified, in short, is historical. It changes with time, space and knowledge. 17 Signified/Meanings
Denotative: Definitional, literal, obvious or commonsense meaning of a sign. Connotative: Cultural, personal, ideological associations of the sign. When you see an extraterrestrial, do you create a mental picture of a being from another planet (denotative) or something more terrestrial and human (connotative)? Click Here to See Scene from Alien Autopsy (1997)
18 Ram Ram rez Bergs Proposal these films fulfill an important mythic-cultural function by producing a cinematic arena for the unconscious reflection of the immigrant question. 19 Aliens & Hispanics Cartoon Associating Blade Runner (1982) with Miami Vice (19841989) to Illustrate the Interracial Buddy Dimension of SF Lecture 10: Part 2
20 Alien as Monstrous Other Film theorist Robin Wood views the Other as a function not simply as something external to the culture or to the self, but outwards in order to be hated and disowned. Thus, on a society-wide level, the Other exists as a project of what the culture represses. That is, the culture projects on the Other, what is repressed within the Self, in order that it can be discredited, disowned, and if possible annihilated. Charles Ramrez Berg Click Here to See Scene from Star Wars: Episode I (1999)
21 The Application of Wood to SF I contend that these new extraterrestrials in film are a culturally unconscious means of working out the question of immigration as it has emerged in the last several decades.My project is first to pose a correspondence between immigrants and SF Alien Others and, second, to analyze it with the hope of unveiling what was, as a society, repressed and oppressed in regard to immigration. Charles Ramrez Berg Suggested Supplemental Reading: Star Trek and History: Race-ing Toward a White Future by DrB
22 In other words What I want to do is investigate one signifiersignified pair, the Alien as Hispanic immigrant, in order to track the consequence of moving the cinematic representation of Latinos from Stereotypes (in which group members are portrayed as onedimensional characters) to distortion (where they are depicted as nonhuman Aliens). Charles Ramrez Berg 23 Infrared night pictures of illegal aliens. www.desertinvasion.us Based on Data
Focus on 1980s Cuba Latin American Mexico Increasing Number of Illegal Aliens Competing for Limited Resources Threats to National (Nativist) Identity
Spiritual Guilt (give us your tired, your huddle masses except Mexicans) Click Here to See Scene from Nightline episode from the 1980s 24 SF as Dream Stereotyped versions of the Hispanic correspond to (relatively) undisguised dreams, serving to fulfill the wish of the dominant society to exercise control of Hispanics by belittling, ridiculing, and exaggerating them into the margin. Charles Ramrez Berg Based on Sigmund Freuds work, where dream-distortions are linked to the need of the dreamer to prevent anxiety or
other distressing feelings. Click Here to See Alien Abduction Scene from Communion (1989) 25 Todays Sympathetic Alien What we are able to realize through the appreciation deportation narrative of Sympathetic Alien SF is that for all the space creatures virtues they are still Aliens a difference that makes not only a difference, but all the difference in the word. In narrative terms, this necessitates the Sympathetic Alien's leaving Earth and returning home. Charles Ramrez Berg
This is a similar structure to the Chicano social problem film, which places sympathy with the Chicano only to have him return to the barrio and, thus, not succeed at assimilating. 26 Todays Destructive Alien Aliens in Destructive Monster movies from Alien to Predator to Blade Runner are sucked into outer space, blasted to smithereens, or die a mercilessly, genetically engineered death. The message seems to be as clear and succinct as it is brutal: Aliens, go home or die.
Charles Ramrez Berg Shots from Predator (1987) 27 Blade Runner (1982) Shot from Blade Runner (1982) Lecture 10: Part 3 28 Credits
Released in 1982 Directed by Ridley Scott Stars Harrison Ford, Rutger Hauer, Sean Young, Edward James Olmos Story of the Future, Set in L.A., About Replicant Slaves and a Diverse but Decaying Inner-city 29
Plot Summary Blade Runner is based on Philip K. Dick's story, Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep. Its a SF Film Noir film about a retired cop, Deckard (Harrison Ford), in a decrepit 2019 Los Angeles who is brought back to the L.A. police force to "retire" (kill) four genetically engineered cyborgs known as "Replicants. The four Replicants have escaped from an off-world colony in order to find their creator and force him into expanding their pre-determined four year life span. Summary written by DrB 30
White Hero Deckards dilemma is very similar to that of the Border Patrolman played by Jack Nicholson in The Border, namely, how to uphold national identity in the face of the aliens demonstrated humanity. Blade Runners main conflict is psychological: Deckard's inner tension between his job and his conscience. In this way, the film raises questions about the justice and humanity of Americans policy of cold-blooded nativist isolationism. Charles Ramrez Berg 31 Multicultural Future-Time
Deckard has trouble ordering food from an Asian street vendor. Gaff (Edward James Olmos), Deckards assistant, speaks a street gibberish that Deckard tells us is a combination of Japanese, Spanish,German, whatever. The teeming, multicultural makeup of the people in the streets is depicted as the dark side of the melting pot: chaos, filth, overcrowding, disorder. Charles Ramrez Berg Click Here to See Scene from Blade Runner (1982) 32 Metaphoric Aliens The Replicants are twenty-first
century braceros. Their lot is unpleasant at best, and they are intelligent and human enough to realize it. Quite an experience to live in fear, isnt it?, Roy, the Replicant leader asks Deckard just at the point when he could kill him, Thats what it is like to be a slave. Charles Ramrez Berg Shot from Blade Runner (1982) 33
The Big Point By seeing the Alien Other in human terms, it once again forces consideration of how the long-range aims of immigration reform in this country conflict with the nations cherished humanitarian ideals. Charles Ramrez Berg Shot from Blade Runner (1982) 34 The Contradiction: Popular Cultures Paradox
Anti-Racist (Progressive) Allegory Sympathize w/ Slaves (whiter than white) Racism is Wrong White Hero Escapes w/ Replant Love Interest Racist (Reactionary) Metaphor L.A. is Decadent Due to Multiculturalism Stereotypes of Latinos/as Stereotypes of Asians Click Here to See Scene from Blade Runner (1982)
35 Ram Ram rez Bergs Big Point Cultural tension about immigrants, coupled with psychological guilt and fear, together with doubts about national identity combines to produce, as they have in other times, in our history, xenophobia, isolationism, and nativism. What is different and I wish to make us aware of is the current cinematic shape of that fear: fear that transformed the greaser bandido into terminating cyborg, the Hispanic harlot in a fertile black Alien mother, menacingly reproducing monsters down in her lair. Charles Ramrez Berg
36 End of Lecture 10 Still from Rancho California (Caldwell, 2002) Next Lecture: What about that other alien? 37
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