` Name: Thanh Ngo
Professor Sefferino Ramos
November 9, 2018.
Alien! The Real or Imagined Monster?
Have you ever seen a “real monster”? How exactly you define someone or something as a monster? The opinions about monsters are already created in our minds when we were a child. Parents usually make up something seem scary, ugly and called “monster”. Then they use it to have kids not doing something. For instance, if a kid keeps watching TV and doesn’t go to sleep, his parents may tell them the monster is coming to catch him- the-not-good boy. So, what exactly monster is? And how they look like? The answers are different because there are not official norms to define a monster. However, in the book “Monster Theory: Reading Culture”, Jeffrey Jerome Cohen gives out seven theories to define a monster. In other word, Cohen gives readers the general ideas about how people consider something or even someone as a monster. To have a deeper analyzation about what monster is, I will pick one among the variety of monsters- Alien which is the foreign creatures on another plant, to evaluate.
Since many decades ago, there are many Alien stories have been told. It even became a trendy topic for movie producers in 90s. Although the wave of Alien movies has lowered the sail in recent years, people and scientists still trying to figure out whether Aliens exist. There are many researches have been done by many scientists, but nobody gets the answer yet. The first movie about Aliens is “The Thing from Another World” which was made in 1951. The movie talks about the US air force crew and scientists are forced to defend themselves against malevolent, plant-based alien in Artic. After that, movie producers start paying more attention to exploit the Alien topics. Many different movies talking about Aliens were made. Appearance of Aliens is being changed over time, along with movie special effects development. One of the famous movies is “Aliens” of James Cameron director. The movie has many seasons, but the most impressive season for me is in 1986. The 1986 movie is the following season of the previous in 1979. In 1986 version, Ellen Ripley and her crew decided to go back the moon and try to kill disgusting creatures which they believe as dangerous monsters. Ripley and her crew believe those creatures are monsters at the first time because of the appearance difference. According to the theory IV in Cohen’s book, the monster dwells at the gate of difference (Cohen, 7). The appearance of monster does not look like anybody or anything that people have ever seen. Because they are not look like others, they are wrong and need to be eliminated. The body of monsters may be not made of skin and bones, but chemicals or even unknown ingredients. Aliens- the creatures from another planet usually have ugly, disgusting and scary appearance. They may evolve from different elements and base molecules, emerging from radically different environments (Csicsery-Ronay). Movie producers have various ideas about how to make monstrous creatures. In the movie “Aliens” of James Cameron, the strange creatures are life-form aliens which seemed to consist primarily teeth, eat every warm and moving things, and then incubates their young inside the victims’ bodies (Ebert). James Cameron was successful in building the image of his monster which makes audience feel sick, even want to pill out if they eat during the movie.
Most of the movies about monster have the opening ending so movie producers have chance to make the next episode in following years. During movies, although human tried so hard to kill monsters, they will escape somehow and return in future. Jeffrey Cohen also mention that aspect in his second theory “The Monsters Always Escapes” (Cohen, 4). Monsters are considered as immortal, no matter how many times human try to kill them. A normal person or animal can not alive if there is a bullet going over his heart, but it is possible with a monster. In movies about monsters, human cannot easily kill monsters by fire or bullets, but they need to find out the weakness of monsters which brings death to them. Cohen writes “We see the damage that the monster wreaks, the material remains…but the monsters itself turns vanishes, to reappear somewhere else” (Cohen, 4). The aliens in the movie series “Aliens” of James Cameron is an example of escape ability. Not being bothered about thousand bullets of Ripley and her screw, the disgusting creatures easily get into the aircraft and kill many people. Although they are killed by fire at the end of movie, James Cameron still gives audience the signal that those creatures will comeback one day. It means they are not really died. That’s how movie producers continue the next season. How about in real life? With Cohen’s descriptions, alien is an exact example of monster when human just can find out the signs which is believe the existence of aliens, but not themselves. Through the live video that NASA has done on Mars in May 2018, people realize a 4-inch mummified being on Mars which has head, arms, hand and bony body (ArtAlienTV). The stories about alien appearance, such as UFO, footprints or even aliens’ shadow have been told in years. However, scientists have done many researches on other planets to find the answer about alien existence, but by now, all they got are just the signs, signals that they believe are aliens.
People believe that one day aliens will come and take over the Earth. Aliens will kill all humans and create their own era on the Earth. Alien is usually considered as a cause of the end of the day when all lives on the Earth are destroyed. It directly correlates with thesis III of Culture Monster: “The Monster Is Harbinger of Category Crisis” (Cohen, 6). Most of movies about aliens talk about human perdition which is kind of punishment for natural detriments. Eventually, people usually like to classify mysterious natural phenomenon as signs of extraterrestrial civilization. People still believe that one day the-beyond-Earth creatures will find out the way to take over our planet. For example, the existence of aliens which was created by James Cameron in his movie, is a danger bringer. They kill human and produce their eggs inside human body. Human safety will be threatened if somebody who has the alien’s eggs inside go back to the Earth. As being classified as dangerous creatures, aliens will be called monster which have to be killed.
The existence of Aliens is controversial topic through many years. People started believing that there is an extraterrestrial civilization when there were continuous mysterious natural events happened. To find out the truth, scientists have done researches about living on other planets. In 1976, NASA decided to do research on Mars at the first time by landing robotic spacecraft named Viking 1 and Viking 2 on Mars. The results they only got were unclear images which made them think there is life on Mars. In May 2018, NASA again do the exploration on Mars with the high-tech equipment. However, there is no specific images of Aliens, only the images of rock formations. “This in combination with the discovery of organic molecules and long chain fatty acids will surely point to Mars as a world that once had life” (Kettley). The gained achievements seem like not satisfy human curiosity, so they will keep doing researches in future. Because there is no exact answer about if Aliens is real or what they look like, people imagine them in different ways, but something not look like human, something wrong, dangerous and difficult to capture. Therefore, Aliens, which is different, is classified as monster. Again, the existence of Aliens- one of monster is still an X which requires researchers more time and efforts to clear up.
1. Cohen, Jeffrey Jerome. Monster Theory: Reading Culture. Minneapolis, University of Minnesota Press, 1996.
I will use the discussions from this book to identify my monster. The theories II, III, IV from the book will be utilizing. It helps me understand more clearly about how we defy something or someone as a monster. The book is one of my scholarly sources.
2. Csicsery-Ronay, Istvan. “Some Things We Know about Aliens.” The Yearbook of English Studies, vol. 37, no. 2, 2007, pp. 1–23. JSTOR, JSTOR, www.jstor.org/stable/20479299.
I use this journal article as another scholarly source. The author discusses about the knowledge relating to Aliens that human knows. I think it is helpful for my essay because it gives my many information that I can use in my essay. The creditability of this article is high because it is journal article that I found from school library.
3. Aliens. Directed by James Cameron, performances by Sigourney Weaver, Michael Biehn, Carrie Henn, and Lance Henriksen, 1986.
This is the citation of the movie which has the monster that I will discuss. There are many versions of the movie “Aliens”, but I will pick 1986 version to analyze my monster.
4. Elbert, Roger. “Alien”, Rogerelbert, 26 October 2003, https://www.rogerebert.com/reviews/aliens-1986.
The author discusses and analyzes the movie on his own blog. I found it’s helpful because I need to gather many reviews about the movie to evaluate my monster. This is the personal blog where the author shares his own opinions; therefore, I think the source is high creditability.
5. Kettley, Sebastian. “NASA news: Mars discovery could reveal LIFE ON MARS in Curiosity announcement”, Sunday Express, https://www.express.co.uk/news/science/970376/NASA-news-Mars-announcement-aliens-life-discovery-space-Curiosity-conference. Accessed 28 October 2018.
This is an online article which is written by Kettley. He gives out the information about NASA keeps doing researches on Mars to find out if there is any Aliens. The article gives me general ideas about how people and scientists think about aliens nowadays. The source is reliable because it is an official website.
6. ArtAlienTV, “Creepy 4 Inch Mars Mummy (Whitecoats).” YouTube, 28 October 2018, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2CwbDYz9Xe8.
The author points out some evidences that he believes is the existence of Aliens. Through the video that he cut from Live video of Mars, he discusses about the signs that he thinks is the dead body of aliens. This source gives me some helpful information for my essay. This is a personal Youtube channel, so it is reliable.