Alien and Fatherhood Alien and Fatherhood
Ridley Scott’s 1979 masterpiece, Alien What’s it about? Space truck drivers have relayed to a remote mining colony and are returning to earth; large bladders on the... Alien and Fatherhood

Ridley Scott’s 1979 masterpiece, Alien

What’s it about?

Space truck drivers have relayed to a remote mining colony and are returning to earth; large bladders on the underside of the Nostromo are pregnant with ore like a cow’s utters. The conglomerated, highly diversified (bio-weapons too), corporation that funded their trip employs a vaguely agricultural symbol for its corporate logo.

The crew is: Ellen Ripley (Sigourney Weaver), Dallas (Tom Skerritt), Lambert (Veronica Cartwright), Brett (Harry Dean Stanton), Kane (John Hurt), Ash (Ian Holm), and Parker (Yaphet Kotto). Our team exhibits the espirit de corps of the working class, never so happy as when the coffee is fresh, the cigarettes are lit fresh, and the boss is within eye line. The only real outsider here is the anal retentive science officer, the exceedingly bourgoise Ash.

These are our heroes. They are co-workers first and foremost, although there is some animosity about the impregnable contract terms concerning premium overtime payments. At the end of the day though, underneath all the steam and grime, these are folks who have each other’s backs.

En route to earth, The Nostromo intercepts a signal from a remote, spectral planet with the bureaucratic moniker LV-421, as if this planet was only mapped because of a mathematical anomaly on a computer printout suggesting orbit and matter by the margin of error in the gravitational matrices of surrounding stars. “LV-421, I guess,” thinks the astronomer, having labeled four hundred similar patterns before; the next pattern LV-422, the next LV-423, and so on.

Anyway we’ve all seen Alien, Aliens, Alien 3, Alien: Resurrection, Aliens vs. Predator and Aliens vs. Predator: Requiem. Alien 3 is probably my favorite, but you gotta see the director’s cut for the simple fact that it’s the most literary installment in the Alien franchise.

Anyway back to Alien — the crew of the Nostromo lands on LV-421 and John Hurt is attacked by a face hugger that plants a seed in him which later rips through his chest during “soupy spaghetti night” on the ship. It grows into the “xenomorph,” envisioned by the late H.R. Geiger of Switzerland.

Over the course of the film’s 120 minutes Ellen Ripley’s character emerges as the de facto protagonist; everyone else is either picked off by the xenomorph or short circuits from the stress.

So what is this film – Alien (1979) – actually about? Nothing at all? Is it merely a haunted house movie in space? Is there is no underlying message? Is the theme merely to scare the audience? The ends justify the means, theory and practice are the same thing, roll credits and pay your taxes? Is that what’s going on in Alien?

What’s it really about?

I have this weird theory about the movie Alien, one might even go so far as to say it’s sexist – “misogynistic” is the word that boardroom people would probably use. But I think that the underlying message of the film is something that Scott himself has wrestled with in the ensuing decades finally coming to the conclusion that perhaps he went to far. Prometheus may be the counterweight to the subtext of Alien. Similarly, Steven Spielberg, has come under fire for some of the undercurrents in Jaws. To wit: “Jaws is a misogynist tract that revels in the opening sequence death of the sexually-liberated Chrissie Watkins” (source).

Interestingly, Alien also came out during the 70’s, a high water mark for feminists. More women going to work, wearing funny pants, having it all, etc. “That streak of misogyny is an attitude shared by other American films made during the period when the women’s liberation movement was threatening male prerogatives” (source). Incidentally some feminists who have attributed misogyny to Jaws have also denigrated the novel by Peter Benchley and I think that is way off the mark. Jaws is an excellent novel, and the themes are far more adult than anything seen in the film. There is an adultery sub-plot, in particular, that really deepens the metaphor of the shark. If you haven’t read the book you should (source).

Prometheus, although a much different picture than Alien (*cough* RNA replicase *cough*) is actually in some respects an answer to its themes, almost a mea culpa on Ridley Scott’s part to apologize for the aggressive sexism of Alien. Think about it. Prometheus is all about what? That’s right, motherhood. How do we know this? Have you seen the film? Try watching it again and working it backwards in your head.

So why the hate?

The thing is that back in the 1970’s both Scott and Spielberg were hungry, young filmmakers who wanted a Maserati. They didn’t want beer in the fridge and a barefoot woman in the kitchen, and they were bound and determined to succeed in a big way.

You see the same thing with young male artists across the spectrum of entertainment. Their early stuff is always more raw-boned, rough around the edges, meaner, angrier, and more aggressive. This is how they get their foot in the door and get paid.

If it weren’t for Spielberg going overboard he never would have been in a position to replace guns with walkie-talkies, and Scott would have never been able to put out Prometheus. Isn’t that a fact?

The question then becomes is it disingenuous of them to turn around and cover their tracks? It reminds me of a story from college. I went to a school where we had a drinking game called “Newman Day,” where the object of the game was to drink 24 beers in 24 hours. Not easy in and of itself, but the practice actually elicited a grouchy letter from the late Mr. Newan decrying our festivities. He said, and I’m almost quoting here “I can understand having a few beers after a day of doing charity work but what you’re doing is out of line and I don’t want to be associated with it.” But from what I understand Paul Newman was actually thrown out of college for bar fighting. How does that work?

Alien was ultra-violent and so was Jaws back before the cigars and Kate Capshaws came along. If you see footage of theater-goers watching Jaws in the 1970’s you see people literally screaming in the theater. So what? They feel guilty now about their success? Who knows.

With that out of the way I want to posit that there is an overarching negative treatment of fatherhood in Alien (1979) that is exhibited through metaphors which engage several of the male characters. Maybe all of them.

I think the alien is a symbol of male identity being subsumed and mutated by becoming a father. Or perhaps it is the fear of fatherhood itselfthat these directors who are gunning for the bells and whistles of life think subconsciously it will all be taken away from them once they cross the finish line but before they rev up the Maserati’s engine. Is that paranoia or rational? I don’t know.

Ash calls the xenomorph “Kane’s son.” Let’s start there.

Kane is impregnanted by the face hugger. The face hugger’s extremity resembles the female uvulva (not pictured). This is the father character who has given birth through congress with the female to his progeny. Something that, ultimately will destroy him. This is “Kane’s son.”

Don't you want to stick your dick in that?

Don’t you want to stick your dick in that?

Brett’s death scene resembles the impulse towards sex. He is seen chasing a cat around a hanger bay, which represents female sexuality. He then looks up into “rain” – a symbol of fertility – actually some kind of coolant duct throwing off moisture. He is snared by his desire for sex completely unwitting of the consequences of his hunt.

Here kitty!

Here kitty!

Ash is the male who has become a robot, stifled by the demands of the domestic life. Routine, bills, whatever. The baby bedroom imagery of the scene where he tries to kill Ripley is indicative of the constraining forces that fatherhood has placed upon him. His powerlessness (impotence) is amplified by the “nesting” imagery of the scene. The fact that he tries to kill Ripley with a magazine is certainly suggestive of pornography. He has been reduced by the demands of family life.

Ahem

Ahem.

Dallas is the idealist, the captain, it is his soul that the alien/baby takes here. His only admonition, “kill me.”

College tuition is how much?

College tuition is how much?

Parker represents the working class male who is skeptical of management but follows orders and keeps his head down. He lasts longer than anyone else which suggests Scott’s own affinity for the working class, but at the end of the day his attempts to cling to a simpler way of life also leads to his death. Not even the routine of scrums with management, pay days, pay offs, overtime, and other hallmarks of everyday lower middle class life can save him from the jaws of death.

All's well that ends well...

All’s well that ends well…

Ridley Scott

Scott himself is always chomping on a cigar, a millionaire, he likes fast cars and hot chicks. He started out doing car commercials and the only reason that Tony Scott got into the business was because he saw what kind of lavish lifestyle Ridley could afford – dames, cigars, and maseratis and shit.

No kidding. I once took this pretty girl out on a date and she told me she had been on a date recently with some guy who had a Maserati. She saw my apartment and said I needed to “upgrade,” and I never saw her again. She was damn fine too. So I get it. I do. I want a Maserati too, apparently. Nice, pretty gal there. Bout…twenty one? In a Maserati? Ooooooooooohhhhhhh *snap* ok…..I’m like: “I’m still gassy from eating mac and cheese, what’s a Maserati?”

The movie Alien is really about how much contempt Scott has for males who let themselves be both unsexed and brutalized by domesticity, whereas if they just had done something with their lives instead of following their libidos they could have been living a healthier existence. Some may argue some antiquated crap about how married life balances men, but human beings aren’t really balanced creatures, are we? It may not be politically correct to say what would be best for men from a purely physiological standpoint. Then again I could be wrong. I’m just telling you what I see in Ridley’s film. And I did think maybe it was a crackpot theory until…

I saw Prometheus and saw how being rich for three decades had softened the edges of Ridley’s message. Of course he mellowed out a bit, but if you think that Alien and Prometheus don’t dialogue with each other then you don’t understand the subtext of the film. Prometheus is actually also about RNA replicase and some of the philosophical questions that are raised by origin of life research, but it’s also just about motherhood. And isn’t it interesting what happens to Naoomi Rappaci’s symbolic husband in that film? INDEED!!! (*twirls mustache*)

What do you think?

Good, bad, I'm the guy with the Maserati.

Good, bad, I’m the guy with the Maserati.

Notice the reference by Parker to . . . well . . . um . . . (*runs away*)

Author Image

Agent Smith

Agent Smith is moving to Singapore after he gets his cheap gold watch.

  • Tarmac492.1

    Great article!! Good stuff!!

  • Maseratis are better than roofies.

  • Full Frontal Throttle

    ok

  • Interesting interpretation, I’ve never seen it that way. I only object to the “late”” HR GIger, he died 2 years ago and the movie was made over 30 years ago.

  • Huh.

    And here I was thinking that “Alien” was a thinly veiled critique against the excessive strip-mining of the world’s natural resources. You know, like what Cameron not-so-subtly used in “Avatar”.

  • Tarmac492.1

    I was going to say Alien could be seen as the outsourcing of jobs in corporate America. The Alien representing “cheap labor” and the crew getting picked off one by one as being “outsourced”.

  • Tarmac492.1

    Not in my neighborhood!!! Fuck Quebec!!!!!!

  • Facehugger was the job efficiency consultant?

  • Tarmac492.1

    Yes. And one of them corporate cunts, too. Stealthy bitch. Interesting at first then they strangle you and you are on the unemployment line.

  • And you stay on that line, asleep for 57 years

  • franks_television

    Insane or brilliant? History will decide.

  • Turd Has Escaped The Gravy

    No, Alien’s actually an anti-Marxist critique against the appeasement of the foreign and the transgressive. Instead of inviting the xenomorph to sit down for high tea and a game of chess, the crew are repeatedly insistent on blowing it out the bloody airlock. Bunch of elitist capitalist pricks!

  • Turd Has Escaped The Gravy

    Who is this person, and is he the infamous Peach under another alias? Is this supposed to be a serious critique (I sure hope not) or a parody (in which case, it’s quite successful)?

  • Turd Has Escaped The Gravy

    The jury has already decided.

  • Infinite Zissou

    How about that Alien 3 commentary, though?

  • Infinite Zissou

    What Alien lacks is the subtle midget cameo of, say, Solaris.

  • Infinite Zissou

    When I look at this painting I see a square.

  • It’s Hip to be square

  • Tim R.R. Something

    It’s a retelling of Moby Dick, Ripley is Ishmael.

  • Tim R.R. Something

    I just made that up

  • Not a remake of “Jaws”…?

  • Tim R.R. Something

    Quiet you.

  • Ash is Mayor Vaughn

  • Infinite Zissou

    It’s a contemporary reflection on the Iraq war.

  • With Peach it’s impossible to tell.

  • Ripley is Brody, Jonesy the cat is Hooper.

  • So not on the presidential campaign? One by one, the candidates are dropped until Ripley and her VP Jonesy make it to the White House.

  • Did Ishmael kill Moby Dick?

  • The Alien symbolises the Media.

  • Tim R.R. Something

    Quiet you.

  • Turd Has Escaped The Gravy

    BTW: a cow has UDDERS, not “utters”.

  • Turd Has Escaped The Gravy

    Wow! A time-traveling movie!

  • Turd Has Escaped The Gravy

    The alien is Rupert Murdoch. Though symbolically represented as much more handsome and agreeable.

    Shit, the movie was even released by Twentieth Century Fox, which Murdoch would later acquire! I think you may be on to something. Dan O’Bannon knew which way the wind was blowing, all right.

  • Spinkles

    Well reasoned, not wholly off base, interesting, yet ultimately “incorrect.” In a broader context.
    Alien, (as we look at it through the contemporary culture of its epoch) is subjective within its perpetual use of the “transformation” as an analogy for ever-changing cultural consumption patterns which were/are as vastly different 30 years before its release date as it is 30 years later.
    The social stratification Scott interjects is reminiscent of Pierre Bordieu’s theory of “relevance through power.”
    “Ripely’s” ascension as the moral/high-character protagonist is developed by A: Juxtaposing her unwavering strengths against the personality flaws or bad intentions of those in her environment (and the objectives born of the military necessity of the time, i.e. War profiteering) and by her unwavering commitment to the chivalry audiences admire…stereotypically male chivalric attributes.)
    B: Weavers’ magnificent portrayal of a person grappling with fear without the typical formula of male bravado. Weaver let’s us in on the fact that she is scared shitlless, yet never falters as a beacon of human courage.
    To this viewer, Freudian backdrops need not apply. But the next time I do kick back for my annual viewing, the points exercised in this article may bare themselves out. We shall she.
    ????

  • Tarmac492.1

    I would love to see Brian Cox wearing that anchor sport jacket.

  • We all would

  • Turd Has Escaped The Gravy

    He’s a true eccentric, if ever I came across one. Even a podcast appearance wasn’t sufficient to dispel his curious mystique. A man a few sandwiches short of a picnic, indeed.

  • Tarmac492.1

    I guy I work with has been trying to find that jacket for like 15 years he says. He wants it for Halloween. He travels to China and is even contemplating having some factory make one.

    “Love to prove that wouldnt you? get your name into THE national GEOgraphic.”

    Best. Line. Ever.

  • “Martin, it’s all psychological. You yell barracuda, everybody says, “Huh? What?” You yell shark, we’ve got a panic on our hands on the Fourth of July.

  • I think the Alien just wants to be loved.

  • Funny that the Alien spares the cat, while ALF can barely contain himself. Who is really the bad guy here?

  • That’s what the Facehugger is all about. He just wants to hug people.

  • XD

  • ponyboy_360

    “Alien”.
    Again?!
    Is this the only film you’ve seen?
    I thought you would move onto something new for once.
    I’ve already listened to your bedroom recordings on this film.
    Nothing new to read here.

  • The only thing a cow utters is MOO.

  • Tarmac492.1

    Ha!!!! Lets not the forget the lovely picture he presents with seeing “that little Kintner boy spill out all over the dock.”

  • Dude, you’re killing me.
    XD

  • Turd Has Escaped The Gravy

    LMAO

  • Turd Has Escaped The Gravy

    Don’t we all?

  • ponyboy_360

    Pfffft.

  • Turd Has Escaped The Gravy

    ALF was also an unruly house guest, while the Alien is relatively quiet and doesn’t disturb the ship. I know which of the two I’d prefer as a lodger.

  • Spinkles

    BOING!!!!

  • Spinkles

    *monkey swings down, drops into pony boy’s lap, places 51′ in mouth, searches for matches in abdominal cavity*

    pony! Where have you been?!? ????

  • Turd Has Escaped The Gravy

    This is the next mega-franchise in Hollywood! If only Robin Williams wasn’t dead we could add Mork to the mix and have a “shared universe” comprising of extraterrestrial visitors of both the big and small screen variety.

  • franks_television

    Man, has it already been two years since he died?

  • hm, 1,5 years, just looked it up

  • ponyboy_360

    For Peach.
    For all the billions of times I’ve had to scroll past your perverted K-Pop
    obsession.
    Suck on some Drake.
    https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=7LnBvuzjpr4

  • Bad Alien

    The fact that the question is even asked gives me cold comfort.

  • Bad Alien

    *runs away*

  • Bad Alien

    Haha it was fun to write.

  • Coupon: The Movie

    “I think you’re going to ignore this particular problem until it swims up and bites you on the ass!”

  • franks_television

    A slice of life.

  • franks_television

    Peach needs to set up a Patreon page.

  • Dr. Geiszler, Kaijuologist

    This is unrelated to the article, but I watched Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back last night and when they go after the commenters at the end of the movie, one of em happens to be a dude working a liquor store and smoking a cig. I muttered at the screen and said that’s Indiana.

  • Dr. Geiszler, Kaijuologist

    *chips in 99 cents*

  • Dr. Geiszler, Kaijuologist

    Also, bitchin’ article.

  • franks_television

    Reasonable.

  • franks_television

    Forgot about that.

  • Lisa 39

    Very nice work, interesting perspective, I like this article.

    “I’m the monsters mother”. Name that movie 🙂

  • Bad Alien

    Friday XIII?

  • Bad Alien

    Chainsaw Massacre?

  • Bad Alien

    : nu uh…..

  • Bad Alien

    Hmph

  • ErnestRister

    Somebody let Asi know “Two Broke Girls” actress Rose McGowan just released her first pop song/video (complete with bewbs) and it’s loaded with Blade Runner quotes.

    I’m sorry for linking to it. I apologize to your eyes and ears. I had to bow out halfway through.

    https://m.youtube.com/watch?feature=youtu.be&v=w1Wq5Tt-op8

  • ErnestRister

    That’s some bad hat, Harry.

  • I am pretty sure Rose McGowan was not on Two Broke Girls.

  • ErnestRister

    For some unimaginable reason, I get her mixed up with Kat Dennings.

  • Lisa 39

    What? No. You can try again and I’ll give you a hint, think alien movies.

  • Sagamanus

    Alien Resurrection.

  • Sagamanus

    Maybe they need to make an Alien film where they try talking to it instead? Boy if that works, all those losers who died before them without trying the most obvious thing are going to feel really stupid.

  • Lisa 39

    Yes! Are you an alien fan?

  • Stalkeye
  • Tarmac492.1

    HAHA!! Hence the hugging gesture it makes to Dallas in the air ducts.

  • Awful.

  • Bad Alien

    The heck did I do?

  • Bad Alien

    LOL

  • Bad Alien

    wave of the future, Dude

  • Stalkeye

    Well other than you misbehaving in the Dojo last Week, to the extent of pissing someone ppl off, Hmmmm….

  • Bad Alien
  • Stalkeye
  • Bad Alien

    haha awww

  • Stalkeye
  • ErnestRister

    Ridley Scott now saying there will be two or three more “Prometheus” universe films and the narrative will eventually connect to the original Alien.

  • Stalkeye

    For all the billions of times I’ve had to scroll past your perverted K-Pop obsession.
    I guess that explains that. XD

  • oh my god. how bad is that?

  • Bad Alien

    Psycho?

  • Bad Alien

    Jaws 3?

  • Bad Alien

    Prometheus….

  • Bad Alien
  • CreepyThinMan

    I love how feminists and their cuckold male lapdogs read misogyny in EVERYTHING. So, Jaws is sexist because a chick gets eaten? Or because it stars three men? Maybe it’s just that women have a tendency to shove their noses up our asses because they simply can’t stand the idea of men doing something without them because they desperately crave attention. This is why you can’t have MEN ONLY sports clubs, gyms etc…

    Yet you don’t see men freaking out that women go to see Magic Mike. That’s probably because we’re less insecure. But if someone made a movie like Showgirls today, cities would burn!!!FACT!!!

  • CreepyThinMan

    It’s like the mind of an autistic child in music video form!!!FACT!!!

  • ErnestRister

    But with bewbs.

  • Stalkeye

    Methinks it could be a Jab toward someone, knowing him.

  • CreepyThinMan

    Hey, check this out; I decided to go for my welders trade certification and started last week. I’ve never done any welding and I made this after my third day in the shop!!!FACT!!!
    https://youtu.be/yfgs9FRD25M

  • Tarmac492.1

    Exactly. Is Spielberg a pedophile or child killer because he shows a kid get chomped up on a raft? I get the sense that feminists hate being women so they lash out at everything that may point out that there are differences between men and women.

  • Tarmac492.1

    He better hurry. He isnt getting any younger. Here is hoping the man has 25 thirty more years in him, but…. I wish him and Clint would go on forever. Not sure it is going to happen.

  • Stalkeye

    <—-Pro Equal rights. Just hate when the oppressed suddenly become the oppressor.

  • Stalkeye

    You should save this this tirade for some Podcast.

    …oh,wait..!

  • Tarmac492.1

    me too. I also tend to think there are inherent differences between the two genders(besides the obvious, obviously)which should be recognized/celebrated and not ignored.

  • Stalkeye
  • CreepyThinMan

    Sorry about that, things have been crazy and I just haven’t had the time!!!FACT!!!

  • Stalkeye

    No biggie, Friend.

    Haven’t heard from him either so it’s whatever. LOL

  • Full Frontal Throttle

    That was not good. The boobs didn’t even work.

  • Total Divas Recaps

    I tried to get into a welding school here in town but we don’t have any apparently they are all closed.

  • Total Divas Recaps

    the only one I can see is that their golf tees are farther up

  • Total Divas Recaps

    get in here with an article CTM!

  • CreepyThinMan
  • Tarmac492.1

    we must know different women.