Saturday, April 7, 2012
Ellen Ripley: "Did IQs just drop sharply while I was away?"
Not sure how I avoided seeing the Aliens series all these years. I think I thought it was sci-fi and was just turned off. I've watched parts 1, 2 and 3 over as many days and I'm pretty blown away by Ellen Ripley. It seems like a series from a completely other time and place; and I guess it was. This character is completely radical by today's standards. It's just so obvious when you watch this how dumbed down and pandering modern movies are; and how, not just sexist but misogynist things have become.
So refreshing to see this character whose gender is entirely superfluous to her character. There isn't a hint of paternalism to this portrayal. It kind of reinforces my belief that especially at its fringe, and I guess in its past; the modern horror movie provides a forum for women to be strong. I"m thinking of the 'final girl' who is seen over and over again in horror; and the portrayals that the book Men, Women and Chainsaws. This book was written by a feminist PhD candidate interested in portrayals of women in horror movies. It's a great read. The worst cover on a book I can remember seeing in a long time.
Don't get me started either on the positive portrayal of cats in Alien; Jonesy stole every scene he was in!
Then in the sequel, Aliens; Ripley takes reponsibility for a 7 year old girl, Newt. Whatever maternal instincts she works out in the role are strictly of an ass-kicking variety; and thank gods for it. There is no backstory offered to explain her stewardship over the child, we know she had a kid of her own but not the details.
I can't overstate how refreshing these films are to the weary feminist; it's so great to see a woman in her twenties through her forties and beyond portraying a non-sexualized heroine. If these films were made today, Selena Gomez would play Ripley with a shopping montage and a few sweaty workout scenes. The idea that there isn't even a love interest for Ripley; or if there is some peripheral romantic entanglement, it's left at that, peripheral. Now films are so dumbed down and concepts are so watered down by THIS STUFF.
Anyway; I'm happy and excited to finally get a proper introduction to Ellen Ripley.