N e g a t i v e  S p a c e  ( a  s e r i e s ) 

Another installment in the 
quest to scan my entire apartment

Part 7: Alien Attacker Pilot

The Alien Attacker Pilot is a recent addition to my apartment, something I purchased while doing anthropological field research at Toys R Us. I had to get one after seeing "Independence Day", a mega-budget remake of "The War of the Worlds". For those of you who aren't familiar with the movie, it's the old bug-eyed-monsters-invade-the-earth story, except this time they're slant-eyed monsters.

The invasion theme is so pervasive in our culture that I wanted to participate in the ritual: my apartment has now been invaded by the mass culture icon of alien threat. I bought an Attacker Pilot, which looks exactly like the Alien Science Officer and Alien Shocktrooper, except for the paint job. According to the movie, this is not actually an alien, but a "bio-mechanical" suit which houses the actual living alien, affectionately known as the "horrible alien host" (figure A). I immediately fell in love with this bio-mechanical suit idea, realizing how much more effective it was over my current pin-stripe suits. What a confidence builder! And much more attention getting than a vintage Corvette (though I'm not sure I'd trust the valet parkers with it). When the Jehovah's Witnesses come around, just suit up, then answer the door. They'll convert on the spot. Buddism, Manichaeism, you just pick the religon.

      Figure A   

After getting my alien home, I was a little disappointed to find that the "Horrible Alien Host" could barely fit inside the head. Rather than the spacious bucket-seat comfort I was expecting, the HAH had to double over, knees to chest, like he was squeezed into the back seat of a Yugo (figure B).

      Figure B   

But a word about the movie. This film is a patchwork quilt sewing together every cliche from every big hit action movie of the past ten years. It's got Star Wars, Close Encounters, Top Gun, Alien, ET, and so many more. What really killed me is how gratuitous the references were. In fact the whole movie was jam packed with gratuitous references to cliches. It was gratuitously gratuitous. I had to admire the skill, determination, and persistence of the writers and directors. They didn't let up even for one scene. Here are some examples:

Gratuitous use of 'exotic dancer' scene (pilot's girlfriend just happens to be a stripper). Gratuitous cocky fighter pilot scenes. Gratuitous use of cocky fighter pilot banter. Gratuitous use of white guy talking 'street' with black guy ('you the man!'). Gratuitous Star Wars fight scenes ('Pull up! Pull up!'....splat). Gratuitous alcoholic ex-fighter pilot goes straight. Gratuitous crazed geek scientist. Gratuitous use of Jeff Goldblum. Gratuitous sleazy CIA character. Gratuitous government coverup. Gratuitous rousing music, family values references, cute little girl by daddy's side, pre-battle marriage scene, cute little boy, pushy Jewish father rediscover's his faith, all American scenery. Very gratuitous use of air-sickness. A gratuitously over-simplified solution to end-of-world problem. Gratuitous slow motion explosions, heroic dog near-death scrapes, did I mention family values? Gratuitous strong woman death scene. Gratuitous child clueless-about-death scene ("Is Mommy sleeping?"). Gratuitous father comforting child scene ("Yes, mommy's sleeping"). Gratuitous killing off of Hillary Clinton feel-alike. Gratuitous hick accents. And a series of completely gratuitous unity of mankind scenes.

There's more. Gratuitously terse aliens (when asked "what do you want us to do?" alien replies "Die"). Gratuitous feisty black woman. Gratuitous not-quite-dead-yet alien. Gratuitous use of alien popping out of body. Irritatingly gratuitous public service announcements (OK! OK! I'll recycle!). Gratuitous effeminate side-kick. Gratuitous killing off of effeminate sidekick. Certainly the most gratuitous destruction of american landmarks, and an extremely gratuitous rearrangement of the New York City skyline (the Empire State Building appears to be in the middle of Park Avenue.) And finally, an utterly gratuitous use of a national holiday.

For me the absolute high point of the movie was the moment where Jeff Goldblum uses a Mac to upload a virus (huh?) to the host alien computer. A window conveniently opens on his laptop "Connecting to Host", then "Uploading Virus...". Hah! I can't even connect to my Internet provider half the time -- and they're a local call.

Alien Attacker Pilot, (c)1996 Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation
Trendmasters, Inc. St. Louis, MO. Item no. 30664
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