In today’s class, we finished watching James Cameron’s Aliens and discussed how it fits into our earlier discussions on feminist SF (Ripley as strong female hero, challenging stereotypes: Ripley, Vasquez, Ferro, and Dietrich vs. Gorman and Hudson, alternative modes of reproduction, the human role in alien reproduction–“impregnate,” remaking motherhood, what does it mean to be a mother, sexualized bodies of the aliens/HR Giger).
We also spent some time reviewing for their second major exam, which will take place during the first half of Monday’s class. I recommended students to build a new set of notes that consolidates important information, dates, lists, etc., because it will make their studying over the weekend easier. I also recommended for them to chart connections between the themes and characteristics of SF eras and the stories that we discussed in relation to those eras. The idea is that making the information more meaningful through interconnections will improve their use and recall of course material.
Next week, we conclude the class. There will be units on cyberpunk, global perspectives/Taiwanese SF, and maybe something creative–this is a fun surprise that I am still working on. I will have a busy weekend planning these things out, but I believe that it will lead to an exciting and fun conclusion of my first SF class!
Today, we began watching James Cameron’s 1986 film Aliens, and I lectured on Ridley Scott’s earlier 1979 Alien and how these figure into feminist SF via their characters, themes, and source material: H.R. Giger’s “Necronom IV.” I shared pictures of my visit to Gruyères with the class, too (for the juxtaposition of quaint, medieval Swiss town with the Giger Museum and Bar). I asked the students to take notes about the film and identify how it exemplifies feminist SF as discussed during Tuesday’s class.
We will conclude Aliens during tomorrow’s class, discuss the students’ findings relating to it being feminist SF, and review for the second major exam.
For further learning, I found this interesting documentary about Giger’s Necronomicon and his influence on the first Alien film on YouTube:
Another interesting aspect of AVP2 Requiem is the appearance of the Cigarette Smoking Man from The X-Files. Okay, so the character is called Colonel Stevens, and he’s played by Robert Joy and not William B. Davis. However, he serves a similarly shady function within the AVP2 narrative. This American government/military official donning a black suit instead of uniform, orders the nuclear strike on the small town Alien infestation. Additionally, after the survivors make it out of the blast zone, they are intercepted by Special Forces members, who disarm them of the Predator energy weapon. This weapon in turn is then given by Col. Stevens to Ms. Yutani (Françoise Yip). This is an interesting development, because it serves to strengthen the bonds between government and corporate bodies. As you may know, Yutani is the other half of Weyland-Yutani, the mega-corporation from the original Alien and Aliens films (the Weyland aspect of the corporate puzzle is explained in AVP with the appearance of Charles Bishop Weyland played by Lance Henriksen). AVP2 does not go into the reasons why a government official would give otherworldly technology to a corporation, and my assumption is that this is a retelling and continuation of Cold War tropes embedded in Eisenhower’s military-industrial complex. Perhaps this signifies the hard currency payback by the government for its wholesale purchase by corporate interests in the here-and-now.
More AVP2 commentary on Dynamic Subspace here and here.