Why are our alien invaders always so disgusting? They are usually somehow insectoid, covered in slime, weirdly eyeless or many-eyed, and reminiscent of the ugliest termite hive you ever saw. I mean, I understand humanity’s collective distaste for insects from a cultural and psychological standpoint, but there is no real correlation with that disgust and actual danger. Insects kill people directly very rarely. Granted, they are significant vector for disease transmission but, then again, so are other humans and cuddly little rodents, and we tend not to kill them on sight.
Why, then, must our alien invaders always be some version of insectoid, monstrous, and disgusting? Insects aren’t even all that ugly, much of the time. People gush over the beauty of butterflies or coo over ladybugs, and they are just as ‘insect-y’ when viewed up close as your average earwig or cockroach. Can’t we admit to ourselves that ‘alien’ doesn’t mean ‘hideous’ automatically. Can’t the aliens be pretty?
Here’s an exercise for the speculative mind: Say Earth is invaded by an alien species, but they are the cutest little fuzzy balls of adorableness ever seen. Think, like, high-tech, militant puppies. When their Grand Vizier takes over our communications satellites and beams his demands to humanity, everybody’s first reaction is a head-tilt and a drawn-out ‘Awwwwww!’ Then, you know, he/she/it starts talking capitulation and threats of military violence unless demands are met. By the end of his otherwise terrifying speech, what percentage of humanity turns the television off and as says ‘if they sold those in the pet store, I’d totally buy one.’
I know, I know – some of you are saying ‘they totally did that in V.’ No, you aren’t getting it – they are cute. Actually cute. Like, if you rip off their head, they aren’t evil demonspawn underneath. They are every bit as cute as any other large, furry mammal in existence. Make them pretty like tigers, if you like. Tigers are scary; tigers are dangerous; lots of people want to hug and cuddle with tigers. Furthermore, in the case of V, they appeared to be humans and were trying to appear likable – humanity should know better than to trust itself when it’s being so nice. I’m thinking overtly hostile but physically adorable aliens.
Given this scenario, what happens? Do we surrender to our kitten overlords? Can we manage to muster up the proper racial hatred to smite our foes? Are we more willing to negotiate? Are we less willing to negotiate (you’d have us barter with Teddy Ruxpin? What the hell is wrong with you, man?). Do we not take them seriously, despite their invasion fleet of city-flattening strato-fortresses? What the heck happens to us when our aesthetic sensibilities are so colossally tweaked that we find ourselves in a state of internal struggle?
I can’t say for certain, obviously – this is all strictly hypothetical. In general, I’d wager on the side of the human race being bloodthirsty killers – there’s a lot of track record there. Cuteness hasn’t stopped us from waging wars before (even genocidal ones). Still, the after-effects would be interesting. Would furry things no longer hold the same appeal anymore? Would our aesthetic sensibilities change?
I can, of course, see the movie already. It’s a CGI comedy, probably by Dreamworks, and it’s tremendously stupid. It doesn’t have to be, though. You could get some serious mileage out of cute and dangerous aliens. Just sayin…
There’s a lot of stories of alien invasion out there, from HG Wells on up to Battle for LA and probably a whole heap-load of cable TV shows and specials that I haven’t seen piled atop the dozens and dozens of ones I have. There was even a special on the Discovery Channel’s show ‘Curiosity’ that had experts discussing the ins and outs of what a likely alien invasion would look like.
All of it is a colossal bunch of nonsense.
Don’t get me wrong–I think those movies and books and such are great fun, it’s just they usually don’t make a whole lot of sense. The aliens are almost always caught holding the idiot ball and certain humans are perfectly defended by Plot Armor to the point where one really has to ask yourself: What were the aliens thinking?
Points in Case:
War of the Worlds
The Plan: Use Tripods and chemical weapons to gas/kill all humans before attempting to alter earth into a more suitable habitat.
Well, seeing how it was written around the turn of the 20th century, we have to cut HG Wells a little slack. We don’t have to cut the remakes as much, however, and the alien plan here is monstrously inefficient. Tripods are great weapons, but as tools of planetary conquest they are rather inefficient. How long, exactly, to those things expect to be wandering around the Earth before they kill every human? It’s going to take a damned long time, if it’s even possible at all. Also, they get wiped out by the flu? Guys, c’mon–it’s an alien planet. Seal up them tripods, will ya? Use Purell or something.
The Plan: Use massive flying saucers and overwhelming air power to obliterate all major human power centers, then (presumably) invade with ground forces en masse.
You know, not actually such a terrible plan. Of course, it is going to be massively costly for the aliens themselves (as every air war we’ve ever fought has told us, air power only goes so far), but they’d probably win.
Oh, wait–I forgot that Jeff Goldblum has a Macbook Pro. Shit. They’re screwed. (how is it that the Macs are compatible with the alien mothership again? They weren’t compatible with anything here on Earth at the time, soooo…)
The Plan: Sneak around naked and scare children. Then, when everybody’s freaked out, use short-range nerve gas dispensers to kill the people. Avoid squirt guns, lakes, pools, sprinkler systems, human tears, blood, etc….
Three words for this plan: What. The. Fuck.
Stupidest alien invasion ever. Seriously, what were they thinking? Was the alien high command sitting around and saying ‘Hey, Bill, that planet over there–you know, the one comprised almost entirely of deadly poison–what say we invade while naked. Sounds fun, no?’
Also, aliens who can traverse the void of space didn’t think to bring a power drill to remove cellar doors? Seriously? Did they do any recon at all, or did they just jump in blind? Gallipoli was better planned than this nonsense.
The Plan: Act all friendly to human kind and gradually draw them into a fascist regime with you guys as leaders. Kill off rebels slowly and quietly to avoid fuss.
Pretty good plan, actually, and it mostly worked. Of course, it went the way all fascist dictatorships go–down the tubes. There’s only so long lizard people in masks can rule a place before everybody hates them enough to overthrow them. Look at Lybia.
Don’t get me started on the reboot of V. That show made so little sense that I’m still trying to figure out if their plan was only dumb or both dumb and logically inconsistent.
How to do it Right
If you are a super-advanced alien species who’s eyeing Earth, there is probably a much more efficient way to handle humanity than depicted in the movies. The challenges of taking on the whole human race sprawled across the entire planet are pretty significant. Conventional warfare–attacking with tripods, flying saucers, raygun-infantry, etc.., is going to be really costly and take a long, long time, no matter how awesome your technology is. There are easier ways, folks. Mostly, how you go about handling things is largely dependent upon what you’re there to do. I think all purposes for invasion fall under a couple basic categories: Resources, Colonization, Conquest, and Genocide.
Ah, the Earth is a beautiful jewel in the vastness of space, filled with plentiful resources your species needs to survive and/or get rich. But how to get them? Here are some simple, practical ideas:
1) Buy Them: Granted it doesn’t make a precisely riveting movie, but why not just buy the stuff you want from unscrupulous human businessmen? Surely you have something they need and, chances are, the stupid humans aren’t going to realize the value of their algae/seawater/topsoil/bacteria anyway. Make a deal. Dump a thousand tons of gold in their backyard that you harvested off some airless rock somewhere and make a killing. Give them the formula for transparent aluminum, for crying out loud–does it really matter? The idiots are going to blow themselves up in a few decades anyway.
2) Steal it: This may come as a shock to you, Alien High Command, but most of planet Earth isn’t watching the stars for invaders. You could probably sneak on down to somewhere in Siberia, build a mine, suck whatever you need out of the ground, and be gone before anybody knew any better. You could probably do this over and over again, actually, and never get nabbed.
Yeah, the Earth looks like a pretty good place to live. Beats the depths of the void, at any rate, and you need somewhere to flop. Contrary to popular alien belief, however, you really don’t need to kill all the humans to do this. It’s pretty simple, really. Just do the following:
Step 1: Blow up something big and important. Cut Italy in half. Blow up New York…the state, not the city. Cover Africa in darkness for a week. Make it rain in the Sahara.
Step 2: Announce your demands to the UN. You plan on moving into central Australia and staying there as long as you damn well please. Anybody have a problem with that, and threaten to make Pangea a reality again.
Step 3: Set up shop and play the diplomacy game like everybody else, except this time you are the only folks with rayguns and orbital bombardment capabilities.
How do we know this works? Well, the Romans did it–over and over and over and over. Worked every time. Soon as you start giving the earthlings your firewater, universal vaccines, and hyperspace viaducts, why are they going to complain? If they do, you blow up their holy sites–simple, see?
A little more intensive than Colonization. You don’t so much want to live on Earth as subjugate it to your will. Whether or not you stay really depends on how many slaves the humans can provide you with. Now, the above method for colonization should probably work fine in this instance. Barring that, however, you can try this:
1) Wholesale kidnapping: You’ve got spaceships, teleporters, tractor beams, etc.–how hard is it, really, to get yourself some human slaves? Beam them up, Scotty, then take off.
2) Genetic tampering: Some clever nanotechnology, perhaps some unique biological compounds intoduced into public drinking supplies, and bam–a very suggestible human race. You just need a little patience.
Say you just don’t plain old like human beings. You want the bastards dead. Well, stop futzing around and just do it, already. You don’t need to use flying saucers (well, at least not in the atmosphere), and you probably don’t even need nukes (though you probably have access to them or their equivalents in spades). Divert an asteroid, watch Bruce Willis and his buddies screw up royally in their ham-handed attempt to stop it, and watch the fireworks. Done and done.
If that fails, try controlling the weather.
See, conquering the Earth isn’t that hard. What’s your excuse, Ming the Merciless? Flash? They guy doesn’t even wear a shirt! C’mon!