Alien, Deconstructed

6 June 2012 at 3:52 pm 4 comments

| Peter Klein |

We haven’t raised the pomo periscope for a while, so here goes. I’m a big fan of the original Alien film and, like Ridley Scott fans around the world, am eagerly awaiting the prequellish Prometheus. Until seeing Tom Shone’s piece in Slate, however, I had no idea the Alien franchise had inspired so much pseudo-academic pomobabble:

We’ve had Alien as feminist allegory (“Woman: The Other Alien in Alien,” Women Worldwalkers: New Dimensions of Science Fiction and Fantasy, 1985), Alien as mothering fable (“Mommie Dearest: Aliens, Rosemary’s Baby, and Mothering,” Journal of Popular Culture, 1990), Alien as abortion parable (“Voices of Sexual Distortion: Rape, Birth, and Self-Annihilation Metaphors in the Aliens Trilogy,” Quarterly Journal of Speech, 1995). Even Jones the cat got his own diagram, courtesy of James H. Kavenagh’s essay “Son of a Bitch: Feminism, Humanism, and Science in Alien” (October, No. 13, 1980), which sought to align the alien attack on humans with an Althusserian-Marxist takedown of humanism in general:

“The founding term in the film is human (S). ... The anti-human (-S), is, of course, the alien, and the not-human (̅S̅) is Ash, the robot. The cat, then functions in the slot of the not-anti-human (-̅S̅), an indispensable role in this drama.”

“The founding term in the film is human (S). … The anti-human (-S), is, of course, the alien, and the not-human (̅S̅) is Ash, the robot. The cat, then functions in the slot of the not-anti-human (-̅S̅), an indispensable role in this drama.”

I am totally using Kavenagh’s title in a future academic article.

Entry filed under: - Klein -, Pomo Periscope.

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4 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Mauro Mello Jr.  |  6 June 2012 at 9:05 pm

    Peter – howdy!

    Very, um, informative diagram.

    I will go see Prometheus tonight (7 June, opening night in Sydney, Australia) and will definitely keep an eye out for pomo seeds.

    You may also be interested in this Alien gizmo –


  • 2. Tmptd2 (@Tmptd2twyt)  |  7 June 2012 at 7:44 am

    will it be ok to still watch the movie and eat pop corn?

  • 3. David  |  7 June 2012 at 8:42 am

    I can’t wait to see whether the alien in Alien is exogenous or endogenous. If it’s endogenous, can someone suggest a good instrument?

  • 4. Joe Mahoney  |  10 June 2012 at 10:14 am

    C.S. Lewis noted that a true analysis of comedy may not itself be funny. “Alien Deconstructed” leads to the conjecture that a true analysis of Alien may itself be alien.

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