Do Aliens Get a Bad Rap?

November 1, 2015 § Leave a comment

Whether it’s a presidential candidate painting illegal aliens as thieves and rapists, or a sci-fi author breathing life into some evil outsiders to terrify her readers, aliens have a bad reputation in our culture. Fredric Brown’s story Arena, is more of the same, pitting the “good” of humanity versus the “evil” of the Rollers, his alien species of choice. Round, cold, and fuming with hatred, the unknown that he presents is devoid of compassion or a willingness to make peace. The narrator observes that they are the polar opposites of humans, and that “the universe was not a place that could hold them both.” (Page 249, The Science Fiction Hall of Fame, Volume One). He compares them to god and devil, making a not-so-subtle implication that mankind is the purest of goods and the aliens are the purest of evil.

Perhaps there is some underlying symbolism here, but I’m going to take it for face value and call Mr. Brown out on this; human beings are not without evil, or hatred, or ruthlessness. In fact, humanity likely struggles with itself more than it would with any alien species we encounter. It’s so easy to prey on the xenophobia of the masses and make them fear the “other”, but oftentimes the most damage is done from the inside. We see this all the time in politics, in business, in relationships and in families. As a rule of thumb (with many exceptions), if someone is telling you to be afraid, you should probably fear them even more.

-SD

(This is an extra blog post for missing Thursday’s class)

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