How to Handle U. F. O.s (Unknown Fragile Objects)

According to many, the election results signal the end of the world.  Both sides are making stands and causing a stir across the nation.  We are all doomed.  (Whether or not we are, no hate crimes.  At all.  Agreed?  Swell.)  One would think aliens have landed and are out to change our way of life.  So let us talk about that instead.

Arrival is a rather interesting foray into science-fiction.  Twelve ships land in twelve different locations around the world.  (They never do determine why those dozen locations were chosen, but they do make a fun joke about it.)  Amy Adams’ character is called on to try to create some method of communicating with this unknown entity.  The government wants to learn, in no uncertain terms, what is their purpose?  How much of a threat are they?  What will happen to humanity as we know it?

The movie is smart, engaging, and different in so many ways.  It is the other side of the coin to Independence Day.  The ships are there for months.  There is no quick invasion-attack.  The scientists and military go up every eighteen hours, try to learn what they can, and return to their labs to think over what they know.  It is, if you will, a smart alien film.  I think there is only one explosion the entire movie.  (Who do these people think they are?  That’s not how you do an alien film!  Blow everybody up; that’s the rule!)

At the heart of the movie is the notion of taking the time to understand.  At one point all the nations of the world are communicating in these vast electronic hubs.  They exchange information.  Experts talk to other experts to try to reach some sort of understanding.  Early in the film, the government plays Adams’ character a ten-second audio clip and expects her to interpret the alien language.  She tells her that it cannot be done.  Intent has to be found, more exchanges have to occur to understand their communication.  Physical gestures counts for much of conversation.  In short, she needs more information.

I imagine Arrival would play very well with The Day the Earth Stood Still.  It is a classic film shot as a commentary on the HUAC trials and how to face the fear of communism.  A ship lands on Earth.  The aliens try to contact humans.  Misunderstandings occur, weapons are fired, and terror fills the land.  The resolution is not exactly a peaceful one.

With The Avengers, the plight is a little more obvious.  A portal opens up over New York and thousands of troops enter the city.   They try to blow everything and everybody up, so the heroes respond in kind.

In a week or so, most of the DC TV superheroes, from Supergirl to Atom to Green Arrow to Flash to Martian Manhunter are going to find themselves in a four-episode battle to take on an unknown alien race.  (The aliens go by the name Dominators and have sharp, fang-like teeth.  I am sure they will make their malicious intents known rather quickly.)

When watching these alien encounters, I always hope that a grain of salt will be applied before communication between the two sides breaks down entirely.  Be cautious, sure, but do not give into fear or desperation until you know for sure that something bad is going to happen.

I call this, the GalaxyQuest approach.  Two characters land on foreign terrain.  One freaks out and panics.  The second member takes in the information presented to him and then goes forth with the information he has at hand.  The first reaction is comedic gold, sure.  And it is the gut response that many of us take.  “New experience!  Unforeseen consequences!  Panic!  Stock up food!  Get yer guns!”

The second, I would argue, is the saner and wiser approach.  Dip your toe in the pool, not your whole body, and see what happens.  Then decide.  Only after you find a life-threatening event are you entitled to go a bit wacko.

Should there be no threat, or a danger less serious than people thought at the onset, then civilization might learn something.  Sure, there may be a stumbling block or two.  Maybe the aliens will misinterpret our moves or we will have some sort of gaffe.  But to learn something new?  Surely that is worth a fumble or two.

Okay, so what if there is a real danger?  What if we end up with an Independence Day-like event all up in this world?  What if they really are galaxy-terrorists who want us dead and refuse to compromise?  I believe there is hope and much to be gleaned from that situation as well.

I maintain that most of the Avengers do not really like each other.  Sure, one or two members may get along as friends in their own mini-cliques.  However, if you wanted to have a reality show full of drama and petty squabbling, I think cramming seven Avengers into one small room would be a goldmine of yelling, bickering, and immaturity.

Yet when they need to come together?  When there is a threat that is real?  When the world needs the heroes to take care of business?  They get over their personal issues.  They work together.  The sum of the whole is greater than the sum of all the team members.  Overcoming their differences allows them to have added skills, approaches, and areas of expertise.

The same can be said of The CW’s DC characters.  I can hardly wait to see all the interactions.  The Flash is the most earnest, hopeful guy you could hope for.  Martian Manhunter seems afraid of most humans.  Green Arrow will do just about anything to protect his city, but he hardly trusts anyone.  And Supergirl?  She believes that family is important and smiling is not the worst thing in the world.  Are they all going to get along in the day to day?  No.  But these folks will come together and protect those in danger.

I get it.  I do.  As a kid I was afraid of lightning.  Add a few decades of observation and education and I now think lightning is pretty great.  (I would love to see a tornado up close.  Kid-me thinks would find that crazy.)  Before I thought they were terrifying and the worst thing ever.  But with some perspective, I am respectfully cautious while still being intrigued.

The future is uncertain.  It always has been.  And yes, I do think that there is a God watching over all this and calling shots.  I believe that God can work through any politician.  Any individual, for that matter.  Whether or not I voted for them does not give me a free pass to assume that the world is going to end.  And no, I do not think that anyone should be concerned enough to flee to Canada.  Yet.  Wait to see what transpires first.  Then see if you need to break out your computer viruses to upload to the mothership.

Perhaps the odd-looking individual is saying, “Klaatu Barada Niktto”, perhaps they are saying, “I come in peace”.  Maybe they could make the world better.  We will not know until we approach them with an open mind.

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About anecdotaltales

He's a simple enough fellow. He likes movies, comics, radio shows from the 40's, and books. He likes to write and wishes his cat wouldn't shed on his laptop.
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