By Neil Badmington
Alien Chic presents a cultural historical past of the alien because the Nineteen Fifties, asking ourselves why our attitudes to extraterrestrial beings have shifted from worry to affection, and what this may let us know approximately how we now see ourselves and others.
Neil Badmington explores our courting with extraterrestrial beings, inscribed in motion pictures resembling The conflict of the Worlds, Mars Attacks!, Mission to Mars and Independence Day; and the way thinkers reminiscent of Descartes, Barthes, Freud, Lyotard and Derrida have conceptualised what it capability to be human (and post-human).
Alien Chic examines the the idea that of posthumanism in an age while the strains among what's human and what's non-human are more and more blurred by means of advances in technology and know-how, for instance genetic cloning and engineering, and the improvement of AI and cyborgs.
Questioning no matter if our present embracing of all issues 'alien' - within the kind of extraterrestrial contraptions or abduction narratives, for example - stems from a wish to reaffirm ourselves as 'human', this can be an unique and thought-provoking contribution to the examine of posthumanism.
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Extra resources for Alien Chic: Posthumanism and the Other Within
No hand is held, no circle is formed. The only circle involving aliens, in fact, is a crop circle, and this is to be found outside (a space to which the humans no longer have access), where it is a sign of aggression, a hint of things to come. This distancing, this repulsion of the other, is matched—as in the narratives of the 1950s—by a coming-together of the human characters. One particular scene, which occurs approximately 70 minutes into the film, neatly encapsulates this reactive solidarity.
The ‘Them’ has invaded the ‘Us’. There is, however, a swarm of mysterious alien bugs on the surface of Mars. Briefly glimpsed at one point, they eventually make a spectacular appearance towards the end of the film, bursting from the corpse of Pettengil to devour the wounded Burchenal. But, horrific as these strange creatures are—their modus operandi recalls, among other things, the monsters of the Alien quartet and Starship Troopers34—they are not, it would seem, to be viewed as a genuine enemy.
The knowledge of DNA is, of course, nothing new; it was, in fact, discovered in 1953, the year of The War of the Worlds and Invaders from Mars. But the actual mapping of the genome, and the related move to frame the truth of the human in genetic terms, are more recent developments. I think that it would be possible to understand the second half of the twentieth century as a gradual movement away from a traditionally humanist understanding of who ‘we’ are, and towards what Baudrillard uneasily calls a ‘genetic definition of the human’.