There are certain rites of passage that feel necessary to participate in when growing up immersed in a culture. Learning to drive. Having your first alcoholic beverage. Graduating from college. Watching the 1979 Alien movie? Well…
The idea for this article came to me recently when I realized that somehow I still had not seen this classic. In terms of pop culture, it’s everywhere. Sequel films, video game spinoffs, comic books, crossovers, and references abound when it comes to Alien. The chest burster scene is especially iconic, and was even parodied in the goofball comedy Space Balls. The movie has influenced so much of the horror and sci-fi entries that came after it in those genres, and it’s firmly wedged into the heart of American pop history.
So how have I managed to miss something like that?
Probably the same way I missed Terminator. Or Blade Runner. Or every single James Bond movie. Haven't seen a single one of those, would you believe it? Yet I can still list off the common knowledge bits surrounding them. I recognize the bit where a guy's skin melts off and reveals a robotic skeleton, or when he gives the thumbs up as he's sinking in something. I know there's an argument over whether or not someone is a reploid. And then there's Bond. James Bond. Somehow, without even seeing any of the movies related to these pieces of pop star stuff, the most influential bits have reached me and I can see their influence on other media.
I bring this up because it's interesting to me to see how deeply-ingrained these fictional stories and their specific elements are in our culture, and how vastly dispersed they are. Who doesn't know who James Bond is or what he says when he introduces himself, at least in the US? And that scene in The Matrix where Neo dodges bullets in slow motion? I bet more people know about that than there are people who can label every state on the map by memory.
I'm not trying to be judgmental about this either; it's not necessarily a criticism. Memes and media are powerful tools for spreading information and often when they're associated with something more fun they're easier to remember. I'm simply observing this, and what you do with that observation is your prerogative.
So until next week's article, may the force be with you.