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TitleAliens R Us: The Other in Science Fiction Cinema
PublisherPluto Press
ISBN 139780745315393
CategoryArts - Film
File Size1.5 MB
Total Pages189
Document Text Contents
Page 1

Aliens R Us
The Other in Science Fiction Cinema

Edited by

Ziauddin Sardar and Sean Cubitt

Pluto P Press

Page 2

First published 2002 by Pluto Press
345 Archway Road, London N6 5AA
and 22883 Quicksilver Drive,
Sterling, VA 20166–2012, USA

Copyright © Ziauddin Sardar and Sean Cubitt, 2002

The right of the individual contributors to be identified as the author of
this work has been asserted by them in accordance with the Copyright,
Designs and Patents Act 1988.

British Library Cataloguing in Publication Data
A catalogue record for this book is available from the British Library

ISBN 0 7453 1544 5 hardback
ISBN 0 7453 1539 9 paperback

Library of Congress Cataloging in Publication Data
Aliens R Us : the other in science fiction cinema / edited by Ziauddin
Sardar and Sean Cubitt.

p. cm.
ISBN 0–7453–1544–5 –– ISBN 0–7453–1539–9 (pbk.)

1. Science fiction films––History and criticism. I. Sardar, Ziauddin.
II. Cubitt, Sean, 1953–
PN1995.9.S26 A45 2002


10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1

Designed and produced for Pluto Press by
Chase Publishing Services, Fortescue, Sidmouth EX10 9QG
Typeset from disk by Stanford DTP Services, Towcester
Printed in the European Union by TJ International, Padstow, England

Page 94

be conceived as objects external to their being.11 Rather, following
Nietzsche, we must recognise ‘that from its “origins” the human has
been constituted by technical evolution’.12 Whether these
techniques be sticks and bones, printing presses or the VCR, whether
evolved in thatched huts on desert plains or in the high-rise towers
of concrete jungles, as Pearson persuasively argues, the human is
something absolutely distinct from the natural because it is essen-
tially artificial, even if this artificiality plays itself out around and
through a biological core. Furthermore, not only is the human
always involved in a series of contingent technical ‘natures’, its
modes of artificiality are never fixed but always in a process of
becoming. From this perspective, the fantastical, category-breaking
Borg are not other at all. They are actually a reflection of our own
hybrid, freakish ‘nature’, our Doppelgänger. Their hybridity is our
hybridity, their polymorphous heterogeneous becoming our poly-
morphous heterogeneous becoming. As Pearson so succinctly sums
us up, ‘[t]he human being is the greatest freak of nature and the only
features we can be certain of are monstrous ones characterised by
perpetual mutation and morphing’.

However, arguing that humanity is a monstrous technical
becoming is not the same as opting for an uncritical acceptance of
the technological commodification foisted on us by unbridled
capitalism. Rather, it is to argue for a ‘critical in-humanity’ which
goes beyond the ethics of possessive individualism by recognising
that the thoughts and other creations generated at the interface
between the human and the technological – beginning with the
originary mnemotechnics constitutive of human thinking – are not
purely human, but trans-human, for they include the contributions
of the technics/techniques themselves, and the pluralities of
becoming these bring into (our) being. Viewed from this perspective
the Borg are indeed ‘other’, but they represent the otherness in
ourselves, that radical otherness which lies at the heart of our own
artificially becoming, technical and multiplicitous ‘nature-s’. It is
precisely because this instability, this plurality, this extended, non-
body-bounded becoming threatens capitalism that it is defined as
other, and repressed. For only through the repression of this
relational and equivocal otherness can we be maintained as passive,
discrete and possessive individuals; that is, as subjects of enlightened
consumption. Fortunately, as Freud said, that which is repressed

Star Trek: First Contact 91

Page 95

always returns in the real. With any luck the Borg might just turn
up one day and assimilate us for real.13

In any case, as all the hybrids presented in this movie – Data,
the Borg and The Borg – suggest it may never be possible to make
an absolute distinction between subject and object, (hu)man and
machine, the I of the self and the All of the-m-others. Perhaps the
truth is that each and every one of us is penetrated by an
Otherness from which it is impossible to properly distinguish
ourselves, ever.


1. De Sade, quoted in Rosemary Jackson, Fantasy: The Literature of
Subversion, London and New York, Routledge, 1988, p. 73.

2. Ibid.
3. See Ziauddin Sardar, Postmodernism and the Other: The New Imperialism of

Western Culture, London and Chicago, Pluto Press, 1998.
4. See ‘What is Pop Art? Interviews with Eight Painters (Part 1)’, Art News,

New York, November 1963, and John Russell and Suzi Gablik (eds), Pop
Art Redefined, London, 1969.

5. Jackson, Fantasy, p. 74.
6. However, if there is a positive, unrepressed side to this fantasy or even

to its actual realisation, there is also a very negative side for, as de Sade
himself shows, an absolute un-self-consciousness reigns here. The
problem is that, though in fantasy this may be desirable, in actuality it
would not only make society untenable, it would make survival itself
impossible, for those in such a state would require others, who are
themselves self-conscious subjects, to take care of them. An excellent
account of such a state is given in Watt, Samuel Beckett’s finest novel.
The other aspect of this state only touched on here is the fact that,
though to some people it appears as liberatory, to others it simply
induces stark terror. For an excellent, if thoroughly nasty account of the
terrible side of this fantasy, see The Event Horizon (1997, directed by Paul
Anderson (III), Golar Production/Impact Pictures/Paramount Pictures,
95 minutes, USA).

7. See Georges Bataille, Visions of Excess: Selected Writings, 1927–1939, Min-
neapolis, University of Minnesota Press, 1985. See especially ‘Base
Materialism and Gnosticism’, pp. 45–52.

8. Jackson, Fantasy, p. 23.
9. For an excellent account of this problematic, see Juliet Mitchell and

Jacqueline Rose (eds), Jacqueline Rose (trans.) Jacques Lacan and the Ecole
Freudienne, London, Macmillan, 1982.

10. There really are too many questions raised by this issue of Data’s sexual
programming for the producers of the saga not to enable us to explore
it more fully in future episodes.

11. See Keith Ansell Pearson, Viroid Life, London, Routledge, 1997, p. 4.
12. Ibid., p. 5.

92 Aliens R Us

Page 188

Gaeta, John 158
Gasaraki 104
General’s Daughter, The 51, 52
Gibbon, Edward 7
Gibson, William 118–19, 149
Giger, H R 40–1
GI Jane 51, 71
Gill, Tom 99
Gilliam, Terry 31
Gilroy, Paul 102
Ginsberg, Elaine K 156
Goa 100, 103
Godzilla (1953) 126
Goethe 4
Goldblum, Jeff 42
Goldsmith, Oliver 11
Good Will Hunting 29
Gulf War 106

Habermas, Jürgen 26–7
Hall, Stuart 158
Handmaid’s Tale, The (Margaret Atwood)

Haraway, Donna 108
Hark, Tsui 121
Harvey, David 171
Hayward, Susan 35
Hegel, G W F 101, 167
Heidegger, Martin 176
Heinlein, Robert 70
Heller, Agnes 165–6
Hetherington, Kevin 95
Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, The 90
Hussein, Saddam 37, 45

Independence Day 11, 16, 34–50
Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade 18
Invaders from Mars 11, 34
Invasion of the Body Snatchers 10, 11, 34
Ishihara, Shintaro 96

Jackson, Michael 153
Jackson, Rosemary 79
Jameson, Fredric 24, 174, 175
Japanimation 94–110
Jeunet, Jean-Pierre 12, 18–33
John of Damascus 8
Johnny Mnemonic 149
Johnson, Dr Samuel 23
Johnson, Paul 37
Jones, Stan 170
Jour se lève, Le 31
Junker, Kirk 15

Kant, Immanuel 20, 25
Kellner, Douglas 35
Keynes, John Maynard 24

Killer, The (John Wu) 125
Kipling, Rudyard 147
Kraftwerk 99
Kublai Khan 10

Lacan, Jacques 84
Laclau, Ernesto 105
Lam, Sunny 15
Lao She 112–13, 131
Larsen, Nella 156
Last Battle, The 19
Latouche, Serge 113–14, 130–1
Lee, Gregory B 15
Lee, Ka-yan 128
Lee, Spike 43
Levi, Antonia 98–9
Li, Jet 157
Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels 30
Logan, Bey 150
Lovelock, J E 20
Luhman, Niklas 26
Lu Xun 113
Lyotard, Jean-François 24, 175

Maffesoli, Michel 94
Mak Tai Kit (Peter Mak) 121
Mallarmé, Stéphane 28
Manderville, Travels of Sir John 8
Marco Polo 10
Marius 31
Marlowe, Christopher 4
Martel, Charles
Marx, Karl 2, 101, 151
M*A*S*H 29
Matrix, The 15, 23, 149–63
Maturana 26
McLuhan, Marshall 94, 171
Mead, Margaret 62
Meniñas, Las (Velasquez) 168
Meredith, George 24
Metropolis 177
Metz, Christian 151
Miami Vice 43
Midnight’s Children 134
Millennium 54
Montesquieu 11
Moody, Nickianne 13
More, Sir Thomas 11, 12
Morgan, Glenn 54, 55
Mouffe, Chantal 105
Murdoch, Rupert 157–8
Murphy, Eddie 43
My Own Private Idaho 149

Najita, Tetsuo 123–4
Napier, Susan 126
Nietzsche, Friedrich 81, 90–1

Index 185

Page 189

1984 (Michael Radford) 32
Nutter, David 54, 56, 64

One Foot in the Grave 29
Outer Limits, The 1

Pagnol, Marcel 31
Palumbo-Liu, David 158
Panther 156
Papke, Sven 165
Paradise Lost (John Milton) 4
Passing 156
Pauw, Linda Grant de 70
Pearson, Keith Ansell 90–1
Phenomenon 29
Piercy, Marge 90
Piponi, Dan 152
Plato 136, 149
PLUR 103
Pocahontas 147
Police Story 125
Prisoner, The 53
Private Benjamin 71
Purple Rose of Cairo, The 36

Raging Bull 30
Reeves, Keanu 149, 150, 151, 155
Right Stuff, The 74
Robinson Crusoe 177
RoboCop 65
Rogers, Richard 113
Rosner, Ari 155
Roswell, New Mexico 47–8
Rushdie, Salman 134
Rutherford, John 35
Rynning, Roald 156

Sade, Marquis de 78, 79, 89–90
Said, Edward W 111, 115
Sardar, Ziauddin 36, 115, 147
Sartre, Jean-Paul 137
Schama, Simon 19
Seventh Seal, The 172
Shakespeare, William 23
Shane 11
Sievers, Wulfram 18
Smith, Will 42–3, 154
Sobchack, Vivian 63–4, 154
Socrates 136
Some Like It Hot 30
Song of Roland, The 7
Soylent Green 25
Space: Above and Beyond 1, 13, 51–73
Spacked Out (Mo Yan Ga Sai) 130
Speed 150
Spielberg, Steven 18
Stargate SG-1 59
Starship Troopers (Paul Verhoeven) 65–70

Star Trek 4, 9, 13, 52, 53, 54, 138–9
Star Trek: Deep Space Nine 83, 134–48
Star Trek: First Contact 14, 74–93
Star Trek: The Next Generation 89, 139
Star Trek: Voyager 14, 59, 76, 83
Star Wars 9, 16
Steiner, Rudolf 18
Street Fighter II 153, 157
Subway 19
Supernatural Beast City (The Wicked City)


Terminator, The 74
Thatcher, Margaret 76, 129
Thirteenth Floor, The 22
Thriller 153
Thomas, Dylan 46
Tiananmen Square massacre 129
Titanic 30
Top Gun 35, 56
Total Recall 14
Turner, Tina 44
Twentieth Century Fox 52
Twin Peaks 53

Ueno, Toshiya 14
Until the End of the World (Wenders) 16,

Usual Suspects, The 30
Utopia (More) 11

Van Sant, Gus 149
Varela 26
Voltaire 11

War of the Worlds (H G Wells) 47
War of the Worlds (George Pal) 34
Warhol, Andy 77
Waste Land, The 19
Weber, Max 2
Wells, H G 6
Wenders, Wim 16, 169–80
Wertheim, Christine 14
Weston, Jesse L 19
Wicked City, The (Supernatural Beast City)

Wilde, Oscar 147
Williams, Teresa K 155
Wong, James 54, 55
Wong Kar-wai 130
Wu, John 125

X Files 12, 47, 53

Yaeger, Chuck 74
Yellow Magic Orchestra 99
Yuen Wo Ping 156, 157

186 Aliens R Us

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