Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Should I watch Prometheus?

One of the original Alien movie's strong points was the aliens' own origin as part of the terror of the unknown. It's the nightmare scenario of a hostile first contact. They evolved on their own, who-knows-where and without any cause, by accident as evolution always happens. By accident, they prey on humans. The viewer was denied the comfort of an explanation, the sense of control afforded by more detailed knowledge of one's enemy.

By now, anyone who's heard of Prometheus has likely heard of its new take on the background story. The aliens are created beings, products of a master race's exogenesis project. As i understand it, so are humans.

Aside from a simple feeling of 'that bites' i also have an issue with the larger trend. I see it as tied into (not necessarily stemming from but sharing a root twinge of anomie among the masses) the growing religious revival we've seen in the past decade. The human animal, presumably having too much time on his brain, has found it idly doing the devil's work, pointing out its bleak, purposeless, lonesome existence in an uncaring universe. As it turns out, nihilism and the simian drive for food an' fuckin' are not as compatible as hedonism would suggest. Faced with their insignificance, apes seek comfort in fairy tales.

The big bearded father figure in the sky is only the most obvious manifestation of such straw-grasping. Those who deny the religion in which they were raised often turn to vague mysticism or the ever-facetious fence-sitting of agnosticism, or, if they're more desperate for attention and want to modernize their delusions, aliens as comforting superior beings. Put a halo on E.T. and he's just another angel.

The original aliens were a Lovecraftian blunt, inexplicable, malefic force, at least as far as their victims are concerned. They terified the audience not only by being horrific killers but by having nothing over them, a law unto themselves, unchecked and as free in their decision-making as the human race. There was no greater plan or meaning. The two species were just accidents of pattern preservation, products of evolution meeting as randomly as they came into being. Putting a deified progenitor race above them lessens their sheer presence. Putting the same angels above humans as well, creates a situation where the humans lose agency and fall into the pattern of praying for the inevitable deus ex machina, calling for daddy Yahweh to step in and break up the fight.

I'm not scandalized specifically by the movie's pandering to its audience's new tastes, since i'm sure it does that in many other ways as well, but by the fact that it's pandering to a very real moral failing which prevents humans from taking much-needed control over themselves.

Then again, it's supposed to be a pretty pretty flick. I'm allowed to like special effects, right? Anyone? Come on Promethean aliens, remove my burden of free will.

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