Alien vs Midwife put me in an Alien mood!
Alien is the perfect parenting horror movie because it presents the psychological as well as physical effects. Far too many fetal-fear films focus on something being INSIDE you, ooooo, and all kinds of things emerging, because they’re mostly made by men who don’t already have to deal with that shit. And every other bodily fluid. Even Ashe doesn’t endure as much body horror as pregnant parents, and Alien is the one film to get birth scenes right.
Alien is the fear of an unknown new lifeform rampaging through and ending our lives in ways we could never expect. It’s not just that the Nostromo crew couldn’t deal with the alien, it’s that they didn’t want to deal with it. This was thrust upon them as a surprise they were now compelled to deal with, that’s the HARD MODE of parenting terror, and their original drive was still just “get this over with and go back to sleep.”
These weren’t Starfleet super-competent avatars of idealism, dedicating their lives to befriending new beings in an impossibly neat utopia. These were already extremely tired workers now annoyed by screaming and a slobbering monster they couldn’t ignore without risking death. This is real human suffering and endurance. Because “the ship’s gravity drive has torn open a tachyon portal to … something” will never be as terrifying as a sudden loud noise and “What NOW?”
All that horror and human parents should still be jealous of Alien. Not only do they have a better birthing strategy, they also enjoy zero post-natal care. They fob the entire pregnancy off on random passers-by, then the newborn alien scampers off to get out of everyone’s way and grow up all by itself. Within an hour that thing was fully grown and effectively captain of its very own starship and oil refinery*, making Alien Mothers even higher achievers than Tiger ones.
*technically considerably increasing its body count
The least Aliens can do is provide some parenting tips. Listed here!
- The person actually dealing with things makes the short term decisions. It doesn’t matter what wonderful plans someone scheduled, if you’re right there and surrounded by slimy organic matter you get to cancel everything.
- Remember when Ellen Ripley was sternly insisting on the proper rules, but Ash gave up because everyone was screaming and yelling? Remember how that turned out? The “easy” option often makes shit much harder in the long run. Don’t teach your kids that they can get their way by whining and/or biting chunks of your face off.
- The cat’s schedule will be disrupted by the new arrival. If you don’t grab your cat and give it special attention you’ll pay the price.
- A disinterested authority figure who has to be repeatedly poked to do anything sucks ass, Dallas. And one big dramatic physical effort to try to make everything better won’t work and will actually make everything worse. The sooner you start ignoring idiots who think they’re in charge the better it’ll be for everyone, including them.
- Deal with things when they happen instead of just swearing*. Ask Brett if he wished he’d grabbed Jonesy the cat instead of having to wander into the alien-infested ship’s Main Ominous Chamber.
*This deliberately allows dealing with things AND swearing, but only until your baby is learning words.
- The Alien is a simple being and will just keep doing what it’s doing unless you change the situation. This won’t usually be a starship escape pod, but future parenting technology may change this.
- Of course it’s when you’re just about to go to back to sleep that the worst will happen.
- WARNING: opening the door and hurling them outside not a valid parenting strategy.
- Parker and Brett are worker icons. It doesn’t matter if your job is in deep space, GET PAID, do the work you’re paid for and not one iota more unless it personally benefits you. Extremely important advice for parents who now have one infinity more things they could be doing.
- That scene where Ellen is screaming at the “MOTHER!” computer, cursing them out for doing exactly what they had to do? Yeah, that’s good practice. Sit through that a few times.
- Sometimes you’ll feel like just blowing everything up. But that just leaves you having to deal with the same problems in far worse circumstances with much less stuff to help you*.
*Except in Aliens, where it works great, but you need a squad of space marines and a gigantic robot exoskeleton to help you deal with the baby. Which would help! I’d pay a lot of money to watch Colonial Marines and a Baby, if only as scientific research to see if there’s anything they suck even worse at.
All of which makes Alien a perfect representation of parenting: something brilliant and enjoyable which you can’t actually do anymore while your kid is still awake.