1990’s-Aliens as Enemies

Throughout the history of film, we can see how aliens evolve with the pass of each decade. During the 1990’s, aliens are mostly portrayed as enemies to our species and a threat to planet Earth. The alien invaders, “others” are seen “as a threatening force, endowed with superior destructive technology, bent on displacing or enslaving us” (Barsam and Monahan 97). We are portrayed as being afraid of the aliens, while the aliens are presented as being technologically superior to us and only wanting to destroy us. Many of the alien movies from the 90’s such as Species (1995), Independence Day (1996), Men in Black (1997), and Starship Troopers (1997); illustrate the aliens as insects or advanced bug creatures. I will be focusing on Independence Day (1996) and Men in Black (1997) for my examples of how the aliens are our enemies, how the aliens feel about us, and the alien’s appearances in these films.

Independence Day (1996)Independence-Day-Poster-3

Independence Day directed by Roland Emmerich is a Science Fiction, Action film, about aliens coming to destroy Earth and our efforts to stop them. In the beginning of the film, we are unsure of the alien’s intentions but it is quickly made clear that they wish to harm us, when they obliterate three major cities; New York, Los Angeles, and Washington. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z3qu-sCei3U

The fact that the aliens attacked some of our cities instead of trying to communicate with us enforces the 1990’s trend of aliens as our enemies. It also becomes evident that the aliens want to destroy us during a scene at the lab of Area 51. The captured alien is asked if there can be peace and the alien replies, “Peace. No Peace” and he then tells us he wants us to “Die.” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2ywX3suZIjw

About halfway through the film, it is the main characters, Captain Steven Hiller and David Levinson, goal to fight our new enemies and put an end to their destruction of Earth. During the film we are shown what the aliens look like multiple times and we even get an up close view when four scientists are starting to perform alien surgery. The aliens are made to look like bug/insect creatures with a slimy layer, insect appendages, various tentacles, and big glossy eyes.1CMPPID4ALIEN

Independence Day ends like most 1990 alien movies, with us humans defeating the aliens or us forcing them to return to their planet, by using their own technology against them.

Men in Black (1997)men_in_black_ver2

Men in Black directed by Barry Sonnenfeld is a Science Fiction, Comedy film, about a secret organization that controls alien life and activity on Earth. In the beginning of the film the main character, J, and us are introduced to the secret organization of Men in Black and the reality of aliens on Earth. While it becomes quickly apparent that not all the aliens living on Earth wish us harm, this film focuses on J and K’s mission to destroy the “Bug” race, who do wish us harm. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vsQ41frO-kI

We can see that the “Bug” race of aliens wish us harm when their flying saucer crashes into Earth and one of them takes over a farmer named Edgar. Edgar (“Bug”) sets out to gather followers to help him rid the Earth of humans and this is evident when he says, “Y’know, I’ve noticed an infestation here. Everywhere I look, in fact. Nothing but undeveloped, unevolved, barely conscious pond scum, totally convinced of their own superiority as they scurry about their short, pointless lives.” During the film, we are shown the reactions of humans who see the aliens and how they are terrified of them and must have their memory erased to forget what they saw. Even the tagline of the film, “Protecting the Earth from the Scum of the Universe,” tells us what humans think of the aliens. The aliens in this film do not all look the same and in fact, there are many different species of aliens shown, but the “Bug” species is our enemy and they look just like their name. They have a slimy layer, stingers, multiple legs, big eyes, and antennas like bugs/insects.Men in Black also ends similar to Independence Day, with J and K defeating the “Bug” race by using alien, space-age technology against the “Bug” aliens. men_in_black__edgar_bug_by_alex_j_crow-d46rh7p

Aliens are characterized differently over the decades and by watching many of the films of the 1990’s, you can see how they are portrayed as our enemies. Independence Day and Men in Black are both great films that show us exactly how aliens were viewed during the 90s. They show us how the aliens view us as a weaker species that needs to be destroyed, how we view them as enemies wanting to steal our planet, and how the alien’s appearances are made to resemble bugs and insects, which suggest that they are beneath us and scum.

~Brittany Weiser

Works Cited

Barsam, Richard and Monahan, Dave. Looking At Movies. 4th ed. New York: W. W. Norton & Company, 2013. Print.

Independence Day. Dir. Roland Emmerich. 20th Century Fox Film. 1996. DVD.

Men in Black. Dir. Barry Sonnenfeld. Columbia Pictures, 1997. DVD.


~ by allaliens on April 10, 2013.

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