Tuesday, April 7, 2015
Aliens Are Communists
In this week's readings, Lubart explored the effect of environment and culture on creativity. Many of my favorite phases in film and music have emerged directly from the diverse culture and history that has taken place in the United States. One example is a timeless movie genre that has spawned some of the very best (and worst) of film - 1950's Science-Fiction.
It was the cultural environment of mid-century America that came into play when creators such as H.G. Wells and Howard Hawks went to work. To be specific, it was early in the Cold War. There was a great deal of fear in our country about our Communist rivals to the East. The result of this cultural environment was aliens. Consider how this reality played into the minds of creatives as they entertained with non-reality. To Americans, a Communist was a mysterious creature. A Communist was an alternate being who could not be fully understood by an American; and vice-versa. Like creatures in space they were faraway and unknown. Even more troubling, there was bad blood between Americans and Communists. The Cold War was only named as such much later. During the 1950's there was no telling when a force of these antagonistic beings might invade our nation and alter our lives. All of this fear was put on screen in the form of many alien invasion films such as The Day The Earth Stood Still and Invasion of the Body Snatchers.
Furthermore, new technology was emerging that was changing many Americans' understanding of reality. The most notable new invention of course was the atom bomb. Americans had applauded just a few years ago as this miracle weapon devastated Hiroshima and Nagasaki; but the reality of its existence was just now setting in. T=From this era we have gained the still-existent attitude we have towards "UFO's". They are mysterious surely, and almost always a threat. When people of this era conceptualized flying objects they could not help but to think about nuclear weapons that were a threat to their daily lives. Of course, when a flying object appears in Earth vs. The Flying Saucers, it is unquestionably the "bad guy". The common worldview of the 1950's American also has a role in creating bad guys in film. Like in The Thing From Another World, the bad guys are always the outsiders in 1950's science-fiction. This mindset of this era was that outside of America was a scary world full of evil - communists, socialists, etc. It was not until the 60's and 70's that we became introspective, resulting in the creation of sci-fi bad guys who are not outsiders like in Soylent Green. This era may be the most obvious case; but be sure to explore other genre phases our country has gone through and why.