Opps. Luke and Leia are a little too close here.
Are things going really well? Are you getting really into someone as lover or friend? Is there someone around you who you really hate? Were you tempted to shove him down the stairs? Be careful, because no matter what, he’s your brother. It may be a woman, but he’s still your brother. Come on, you sensed that Luke was Leia’s brother. Let Star Wars be the eternal cautionary tale about incest. Even The Killing stresses that you shouldn’t have sex with your boyfriend if you think he may be your brother. Everyone wanted to kill the crazy, rapey, inmate who was loose in the space prison in Lockout. But, sure enough, he was kept alive since he was secretly the leader inmate’s brother. Be suspicious that everyone out there may be your brother, and take necessary precautions.
So what did I miss? I’m sure there are a million more secret brother or sister stories out there. Comment people, comment!
The Breen from Star Trek
Along with speaking English, most intelligent aliens look a remarkable amount like humans. It is amazing that creatures developed so similarly, even though we lived in different planets and different galaxies. Even the Breen, a species in Star Trek whose bodies are never seen except completely encased in suits, are bipedal. The Breen are mysterious, with only guesses regarding why they were the suits and what they look like underneath. They seem so foreign, yet at the same time, so similar in their two-legged-ness. Not only are they bipedal, but like humans, they also have two arms and one head. I know that the Alien Actors Guild (AAG!) only allows bipedal aliens to join, making it extremely difficult for film or television to employ non-bipedal creatures. However, producers could make more effort towards equal representation of the non-bipedal variety.
Jabba the Hut from Star Wars
Most of the time, creatures with more or less than two legs have only served as peripheral characters in film and television, barely seen at all. When they are present, they are often evil villains, like Jabba the Hut in Star Wars. Jabba was very resistant to taking the role at all, but claimed that even a negative presence in the media was better than no visibility for his species. Jabba has not only had to overcome earthlings’ bias towards the non-legged, but also bias towards his glandular disorder and weight issues.
Pilot from Farscape
Farscape does the best job so far on Earth at including aliens with multiple extremities in major and positive roles. Pilot is one of the few non-bipedal aliens to serve as a main character. Moya, the spaceship, is also without legs, although with great propulsion, and is a major element in the show. Indeed, the series could not exist without some form of Moya. I hope she asked for a raise. Although Rygel XVI isn’t exactly without two legs, the fact that the deposed Hynerian leader flies around on his Thronesled most of the time, rarely walking or showing his legs, makes him appear non-bipedal at times.
Shows are making progress towards the inclusion of more or less legs. However, it will be a long time before the leggy or leggless creatures feel accepted in the hearts of earthlings.
It seems that characters in sci-fi programs have not caught on to this one yet, as they keep being drawn in by the lure of cuddly creatures. Tribbles in Star Trek (and again in Star Trek: Deep Space Nine), Gremlins, Ewoks in Star Wars, Nibbler in Futurama, and the newest adorable killer critter: Nubbins in Sci Fi Channel’s Sanctuary all have wrought havoc on those investigating new phenomena. Galaxy Quest even paradied this lesson for those who still hadn’t learned it. Nubbins and Gremlins have overdone neotony, with their huge eyes and infant-like features and proportions lulling us into parental roles. We almost have no choice. It’s instinctual to love them, so we understand the failings of the characters to recognize the potential danger of our most huggable friends.
Of course, no fuzzy, cute animal is evil in it’s own right. Instead, it is either incorrectly cared for or just trying to survive. The rules of caring for these creatures are so vague it’s easy to mess them up. When exactly can you feed a Gremlin? Isn’t it always after midnight? Between midnight and what can’t you feed them? Can you feed them at 6 a.m.? No one wanted Gizmo to spawn or potentially turn mean, the rules are just really vague, with no consequences given. Other cuddlies, like Nubbins and Tribbles, are just trying to survive. They don’t want to harm people or equipment, they just do.
The message of sci-fi is clear: Nothing that adorable can really be “evil” in any universe. However, this level of cuteness is dangerous, working on the human and bipedal alien psyches to calm and comfort us, causing us to ignore potential dangers. Be alert when surrounded by adorables. Behold that golden retriever puppy with suspicion. Question its motives. And never, ever feed it after midnight.
The sweetest creature of them all, Gizmo from Gremlins.
Posted in science fiction
Tagged Ewoks, Futurama, Galaxy Quest, Gremlins, Nibbler, Nubbins, Sanctuary, sci-fi, Star Trek, Star Wars, Tribbles
Sexy Mutant! Rogue from X-Men
Popular culture seems obsessed with mutants. We’ve come a long way from The Elephant Man, The Hunchback of Notre Dame, Mask, or The Great Mutato in The X-Files, as mutants have campaigned for better representation in the media. No longer media figures that teach the rest of us empathy and the value of humanity, mutants can now be sexy, beautiful, powerful, and enviable. There appears to be a strong divide between “good” mutants or “bad” mutants, meaning those who use their powers to help others versus those who become crazed with power, but “sad” mutants don’t really appear to be pop culture figures anymore (with the possibly exception of Rogue from X-Men). Mutants are now so desirable and hip that people are trying to make everyone mutants, from Mohinder in Heroes to Jordan Collier in The 4400. Mutant powers come from a variety of sources, including the ambiguous “future” in The 4400 who introduced an entirely new neurotransmitter, random genetic mutations in X-Men, genetically born with extra midi-chlorians in Star Wars (making some people seriously force-sensitive), and something to do with the adrenal gland in Heroes. Of course, we’re all actually mutants, but given that a large chunk of the U.S. public doesn’t believe in evolution and most of the rest don’t really understand genetics, we can go with this vision of mutants.