Even before I realized that that there were science fiction novels, I had read Chariots of the Gods? by Erich von Däniken. The only thing I took away from “ancient astronaut” theory was an appreciation for the idea that if an alien visitor came to Earth, chances are good that such a visitor would have been here long ago. Much longer ago than 1873.
I’ve looked at some online reviews of Cowboys & Aliens (funny). Apparently Ella Swenson is a visitor to Earth who takes on human form. My favorite science fiction plot element involves visitors to Earth who walk among us and never reveal the truth about their origins. I have not seen Cowboys & Aliens so all I can do is guess: maybe Ella is on Earth trying to give humans a helping hand against the Evil Invading Aliens.
When I finally discovered science fiction novels I got bounced around between conventional space opera stories such as The Skylark of Space and conventional SciFi movies such as War of the Worlds. It is fun to imagine the heroic Earthling who builds a spaceship and takes off on a great adventure in space, but the other option, which seems to be more popular, is to twist the plot so that the aliens come to Earth. I think I had my fill of Evil Alien Invaders the first time I saw War of the Worlds.
I was thrilled to eventually discover that some science fiction authors such as Arthur C. Clarke actually wrote stories (example) about space-traveling visitors to Earth millions of years ago. I quickly grew tired of science fiction stories where 1) the entire universe was out there just waiting for tool-using apes from Earth or 2) aliens came from hundreds of light-years away just to participate in a World War II-type space battle with heroic Earth-men. It is much more fun to explore other kinds of interactions with aliens. As far as I can tell, C&A is built around the idea that the aliens came to Earth for gold. Is this an attempt to get us to think about idiotic human motives for violence?
Avatar turned the Evil Invader plot around, making humans the invaders. Some SciFi films such as E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial (I’ve never managed to watch it) do avoid the usual Hollywood SciFi plots of Evil Aliens and Space War. I have watched Close Encounters of the Third Kind, but for me it is as big a frustration as Contact, movies that end just when they should be moving on to tell us something interesting about the aliens and their advanced civilization. Sadly, I have no expectation that C&A includes interesting speculation about an alien civilization.
Why is Hollywood dominated by people who think that a science fiction movie must have slime-dripping aliens and laser battles? I now have my hopes up because it sounds like there might be two types of aliens in Cowboys & Aliens, the comic book aliens from the original story and Ella Swenson who is apparently an alien of a different color. I’m tempted to write a spoof of Mars Attacks! in which aliens invade Hollywood and start making interesting science fiction movies. I wonder if Ron Howard and Olivia Wilde would be willing to deploy the Ella Swenson character as part of such a worthy effort to improve the SciFi film genre.
When did Americans grow tired of movies in which endless streams of Native Americans were shot by “heroic” white men? When will people grow tired of endless movies where aliens are the designated target for mindless violence? Can’t we have SciFi films with interesting stories about aliens who do something besides invade Earth?
Note. This is post #100 for this blog!