Life Outside of Earth

05 Jun

Yes, this is another daily topic. But I’m enjoying the questions, so I guess I’ll continue taking them. Today’s topic: does life exist on other planets? And, in addition: why are aliens in most movies dangerous?

The first question is simple. How can’t life exist on other planets? Are we humans so full of ourselves that we could ever believe that it couldn’t? There are hundreds and thousands of galaxies, full of hundreds of thousands of planets. And even in our own galaxy, there are hundreds of thousands of star systems and planets. It’s statistically improbable that there are no other life forms out there. We just haven’t found them yet–and some people even claim they have.

Then again, any species that can create the geocentric model of rotation must have some innate superiority complex going for it. And why haven’t we come across these aliens so far?

Geez, maybe because we’re way out in the corner of the galaxy. Maybe aliens have come across us; maybe they’re influential in history, or maybe they just don’t care. Or maybe we are the aliens, something Douglas Adams explored in his Hitchhiker’s Trilogy. Or, as long as we’re talking maybe, the skeptics are right and there’s really no such thing as aliens after all. Maybe Earth is flat and the geocentric model was right all along.

Sarcasm notwithstanding, I have yet to find anyone who could give me a decent argument to the “Earth is not the only planet” discussion, or even the “our solar system is not the only solar system” discussion. If anyone else can give me a good argument, then go for it. And for the record, I do not consider any geocentric rotational model or a flat-earth theory as a valid argument–the physics involved in either model just doesn’t add up.

That moves us into the second question: why are aliens in most movies so dangerous?

When I think of such movies, my mind goes straight to the “Alien versus Predator” series, or even the recently-released “Predator.” These aliens are highly dangerous–or just volatile, whichever way you want to think of it.

And then we have “Star Wars” and “Star Trek.” The first is probably the only example of a truly diversified society. In the second, it is noted that the enemies are pretty much guaranteed to be inhuman.

This is where a knowledge of conflict is key.

A story is boring if it does not have some sort of conflict. The conflict can be either mental or physical–in this case, we’ll only deal with the physical.

In “Predator,” the conflict is two-fold: man versus nature (a strange environment breeds tension and caution), and man versus predator. The predator in such conflict is not necessarily malicious, but it could be.

From here, the movie really presents itself as a futuristic horror film, which might invalidate the entire argument. The predator in a horror film, after all, could also be human.

Let’s add something psychological: take “X-Men.” It’s not about aliens. But it is about how people instinctively fear anything different from themselves.

Now let’s apply that concept to “Predator.” In addition to being thrown in a strange environment, the characters now face an entire species of which they have no knowledge whatsoever. How will it react? Does it have a human sense of morals? Does it have a special fondness for human blood?

Because no one knows anything about these aliens, one can only assume that it’s dangerous. And that alone means it must be stopped. The fact that it is dangerous only adds to the stratification between predator and prey, which in turn adds to the conflict.

People are scared of things that are different from themselves. That could be part of it. Then there’s the simple fact that danger equals conflict, and conflict equals a more compelling story.

What do you think?

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Posted by on June 5, 2011 in Uncategorized


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