I find the movie Alien to be a horror classic in the alien sci-fi genre. The film was groundbreaking in its special effects, (which one has to remember was in 1979), and of course for creating the creepy and iconic “alien” itself. I am more of a fan of the sequel Aliens, mainly because it simply has more action than the first one and Sigourney Weaver has more opportunities for great one liners.
One element of both films I thought was interesting was its portrayal of women. You would be hard pressed to find a starker contrast than Alien’s Ripley and the bumbling Becky from Body Snatchers. Ripley is not only a strong heroine capable of saving both her and her crew mates, but she also displays more intelligence and foresight than her male counterparts in Alien. In any genre of movie we typically see a male being the ultimate survivor and ass-kicker, so it is refreshing when a story gives us a woman like Ripley who exemplifies both bravery and strength. Ripley is certainly one of the most famous and empowered heroines in sci-fi or modern cinema. On the other hand we can rewind a mere 20 years earlier to the time of Body Snatchers and observe the faint-hearted Becky. As we discussed in class, Becky is simply incapable of doing anything without the assistance or encouragement of her savior Dr. Miles. To give her some credit she does display a bit of bravery when opting to stay with her lover instead of fleeing, (and I guess she stabbed a guy in the doctor’s office), but throughout the movie it’s pretty obvious Becky cannot take care of herself. This portrayal of a woman being beautiful, (dressed to the 9’s with hair done, full makeup, and of course high heels on), and dependent on her man was typical of the decade and an idealistic view of what women ‘should be’. A film like Alien showing a female character on quite the other end of the spectrum shows a great leap of progress for women during the time elapsed between the two films. As always, movies and pop culture reflect broader social commentaries and political meanings-and the same can be said for the representation of women in these movies and the stereotypes of the time they were made.