Mixed race archetypes in Black sci-fi
Much of this essay may seem like conspiracy theory if one does not take into account that racial purity is a myth. By myth I do not mean a fallacy but rather a truth that gains its power more from its communally agreed upon definition than any empirical evidence. A simple thought exercise of
defining the characteristics of Whiteness and Blackness will reveal the
mythic value of racial categories when such an exercise is directed towards the "Mixed race individual". Just as the Bi-sexual or, in a more embodied sense, the transsexual, distorts the fictive God given privileges of male superiority, so too does the Mixed race individual shatter our essentialized notions of race.
This is a very disconcerting process for most people. The race politicians
individual when it comes to black and White relations. Luckily the science
fiction/horror genre has not. The notion of the cyborg has long been a
receptacle for the questions that arise from identity formation "Who am I?"
"Which 'parent' shall I remain true to?" Mary Shelly's Frankenstein
classically displays the central dilemma to most cyborg drama, To whom does
one show their loyalty? The human side, or the Technological side". The
basis of such a binary way of thinking is generated from a place of fear
about mixity in any form. We see this played out with the Character data,
from Star trek whose lifelong goal is to experience human emotions, no
matter what the cost. We see this also in the terminator movies. Though
cloaked in human skin, the Terminator, the bad cyborg, has no allegiance to
humanity in the first movie. It is only through the aid of a human boy in
the second movie that he is able to experience emotions. The underlying
assumption in both these works is a threat to humanity either via a lack of
empathy or through outright war. It should also be pointed out that the
humanity merged with the technological concept is a white humanity. Note
the fear of a lack of empathy towards the human race by the technological
"other". Though many situate such phobia to a fear of technology, I would
challenge that assumption and assert in its stead, a fundamental "White"
fear of not being accepted by those whoa re subjugated.
The notion of inter-species breeding shares similarities with technological
"cross breeding" in that it represents fundamental dangers to the notion of
"Humanity" as presented in the Sci-fi horror genre. While some authors of
color have challenged such constructions of the Other interfacing with
"Humanity", Nalo Hopkinson, Octavia Butler, Samuel Delany, Cinematic sci-fi and horror still use such fears as a fundamental launching point for many tales. The Alien series, in many ways, can be viewed as a warning against the dangers of interbreeding with the unknown. My location as a black male allows me to see some of the radicalized dynamics of this interplay between interbreeding and Sex. The Movie Blade also speaks volumes about the dangers and privileges of Mixity. The fact that such a project is presented on the black body of Wesley Snipes allows for a race conscious analysis that reveals dominant cultures views towards the subject of the mixed race individual.
Beginning with Alien, it should be noted that there has never been a black
person, "infected" by an Alien in any of the films. This is of relevance
due to the hostile nature in which the Alien removes itself from its host.
Basically, it presents itself as the inappropriate phallus. The host body
contorts, screams, bleeds, and cries in pain. The Alien then pushes itself
out of the chest of the Host with its rounded head and sharp teeth. The
host is killed and in the first movie, the Alien runs away to grow into
something bigger, deadlier, and Blacker.
It has been argued by those more academically inclined than myself that the
construction of the Other in the
some way. I believe this to be true as well. I find it hard to find
evidence of a popular cultural other that does not have a racial element
attached to it. Johnny 5, of Short Circuit had the "Ethnic voice" of the
model minority, Mongolian culture has played a strong role in the creation of the Klingon race in the Star Trek series, and the lichpin for the famous Bar scene in the first star wars movie was the mélange of different
languages, dress, foods and drinks, available. Taking this theory as a
hypothesis, then the question arises, what is the radicalized dynamic of the
The first element, which I find worthy of mention is that the host body, the
white body, never survives the experience. The alien, darker than its host,
more aggressive and more hostile to life in general, kills its "Parent" upon
birth. What's more, the child is a product of rape. The alien Breeding
cycle works in such a way that in order to be infested; the first parent
attaches itself to the host face and shoves a tube down the White person's
throat. The white person is the only unwilling agent in the entire birthing
process. And this is a source of fear.
The Alien, designed by H.R Giger, should also be recognized as a sexual
entity. Commencing its life as a Phallus, the alien goes on to develop a
mouth within a mouth that ejaculates into its victims in order to slay them.
The Alien also has a sharp, long pointy tail, which at times is used to wrap
seductively around its victim's legs to entrap them into unknown fates worst
than death (read: rape). These Sexual motifs are not merely the product of
my Black gaze. A sexual motif surrounds the entire film. When the Synthoid in the movie attacks Ripley, the main white woman character, he takes a rolled up pornographic magazine and attempts to symbolically rape her by
shoving it down her throat. As the scene progresses one can see
pornographic videotape lying behind Ripley's head. Even the Robots death is
filled sexual imagery. When the only Black male character in the first
movie, played by Yaphet Koto attacks the Synthoid by literally knocking its head off, a fountain of white Semen like liquid ejaculates form the head
leaving a spent limp Synthoid in its wake. How Yaphet Koto's character dies in the movie should also be taken into account. He is one of the last
survivors and he actually has an opportunity to slay the Alien, if not for
the White woman with him who is too scared by the Giant Alien Phallus to move out of his way to fire. In more base terms, the Alien was
cock-blocking Yaphet Koto the only black man on the Ship and the only one who had many any sexual comments before the threat began to unfold.
These constructed images should not be glossed over in the name of
entertainment but rather examined crucially from a racial standpoint. It
seems that the entire subject of the first Alien movie is about a fear of a
Giant Phallus and the tension that it creates. Conscious or not, the movie
projects certain fears about sexuality, "Interbreeding", and by extension,
race. Blackness, as both a color and a signifier has been fetishized.