"I saw Alien last night!" Sarah Mirk squealed when I walked into the office yesterday morning. "It was really good!"
"I have a bunch of questions for you!" Sarah Mirk shouted when I walked into the office this morning. "I keep thinking about Alien!"
I directed Sarah to the office's resident Alien scholar, Bobby Roberts, who has seen all of the films more than anyone else alive and is so psychologically enmeshed in them that he'll even shamelessly defend Alien³, at which point Bobby started answering, in great detail, all of the questions Sarah started asking him about "face rape." Anyway, it reminded me of this piece on Slate by Tom Shone, which asks why people—including academics—are "so obsessed with Ridley Scott’s movie and its sequels," and contains paragraphs like this one:
For a brief moment in the early '80s, it looked as if the brave new world of Alien studies was going to splinter irreconcilably on the issue of Officer Ripley’s panties—the anti-panty camp accusing the pro-panty wing of uncritical phallocentrism, the pro-panty caucus accusing the anti-panty wing of repressive and self-defeating assumptions about what constitutes sexism.
And that, in turn, reminded me about a piece io9 put up today, which demands to know if Alien prequel Prometheus is "anti-science" (which is kind of a silly thing to get worked up about, but I digress), and THAT reminded me of this thing by Prometheus co-writer Damon Lindeloff, in which Lindelof discusses a bunch of the Big Ideas behind Prometheus. He also talks about what it's like to work with Ridley Scott at this point, in the process maybe unintentionally letting slip something pretty telling about why Prometheus doesn't really work:
You don’t argue with Ridley Scott about the movie he wants to make.
Anyway! Prometheus is out tomorrow, and a bunch of people who've never seen Alien are seeing Alien for the first time because of all the Prometheus hype, and people are writing some new and interesting things about all the Alien movies, and I'm okay with all of this. More than any other film series I can think of, the Alien movies are interesting whether they're good (Alien, Aliens) or bad (Bobby's beloved Alien³, Alien: Resurrection); I'm not sure why this is, other than the possibility that even the crappy ones have inherited enough of Alien's discomfiting psychosexual creepiness and gorgeous production design to still be... no, that's not it. I don't know. Point is, even the failed Alien films still contain plenty of stuff to chew on, which can't be said about most sequels. Or, in Prometheus' case, prequels. Or most movies in general.
So there you go! There are some links that contain some things to chew on after you've seen Prometheus, or before you go to Prometheus, or instead of watching Prometheus.