Aliens: The Anthropology of Science Fiction

By George E. Slusser; Eric S. Rabkin | Go to book overview

II
Aliens 'R' U.S.: American Science Fiction Viewed from Down Under

Zoe Sofia

To what kinds of anthropologists are aliens alien and why? Is science fiction itself a kind of anthropology, and if so, of what or who? In science-fiction criticism as in anthropology, or any discursive practice, what we see depends upon where we stand; objects of discourse are constructions from particular positions. From the U.S. perspective, the aliens in the creature features look like aliens, nazis, or communists; the U.S. heroes are the "good guys," with their shiny technology; the aliens are the "slimy bads," who must be defeated in a ritualized plot that excuses our lusts for more of those fantastic, fascinating, all too often fascist estrangement effects.

But to subjects of technological imperialism, the Americans are the bad guys, the aliens look remarkably like American aliens, and there's not much difference between the shiny goods and the slimy bads. Viewed australly, from "Down Under," most science-fiction film looks like propaganda to convince us that the space -traveling corporate clones and freaky scientists who created city-stomping nuclear monsters and later turned us into obedient pod people are good rational guys after all, who can always regain control of any tools that go bad and start gobbling us up.

Those near centers of hegemonic power could perhaps write anthropologies of science fiction -- humanistic accounts of a seemingly universal self who imagines and encounters a generalized other in quests of transcendence and discovery with which we all are supposed to identify. Natives of peripheral powers may, however, find more value in critical ethnographies that are sensitive to the geopolit-

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