BadSciFilm: Prometheus

On Twitter, I host satiric discussions of science fiction films on Twitter, using the hashtag #BadSciFilm, with a focus on the sociology of science representation. I watch the movie, making comments in real time. This post is about the divisive movie Prometheus, a reboot of the Aliens franchise. I love the film, despite its many flaws – and gooddess help us – it has many flaws. This post archives my tweets focusing on the ways in which research processes are reflected and how the stereotypical characters reflect gendered notions of scientists.

In Prometheus, scientists are obsessed with colonisation, but, in usual science fiction fashion, colonial expansion is not ever reflected in its cultural connections to genocide of Indigenous people and the enslavement of African diasporic people on Earth. Scientists take their safety gear off with abandon, they touch alien life forms without protection, and their monologes about scientific discovery are inflated by hubris. The aliens (known as trilobites) mutate rapidly and kill not simply to reproduce, but seemingly just to wreck havoc on the humans.

The Aliens films perpetuate a stark duality about cisgender women and birthing, steeped in patriarchy. On the one hand, women in the stories are presented as conveniently “unencumbered” by motherhood, because their children have died (Ripley in the original films), or they are secretly cyborgs (Annalee Call in Alien Resurrection). In the case of Prometheus, women have trouble conceiving (Shaw) or they are overly ambitious (Vickers). On the other hand, women also suffer due to their motherhood urges. In the second film, Aliens, Ripley is put in danger in order to rescue the young stoway survivor Newt. In Prometheus, Shaw is terrorised after she was inadvertently impregnated by her partner, who was infected with an alien virus. We are treated to an over-the-top abortion of sorts, where Shaw’s alien-baby tries to tear her to shreds, and ultimately consumes another alien by the end of the film.

The fact that the aliens burst out of human chests for horrific effect is a simulation of birth as a violent event.

Prometheus is also deeply impressed with phallic symbolism, as aliens repeatedly force their way into both human and alien male’s mouths in visceral confrontations.

Enjoy my Twitter interactions with other scientists below!

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