‘Alien’ as a Metaphor for the Cycle of Trauma

Trigger warning: this post discusses issues of abuse.
By  · Published on May 31st, 2017

Trigger warning: this post discusses issues of abuse.

Sexual abuse in our culture is both taboo and terribly common, which leads to a social dilemma: it’s a topic we need to discuss but not one a lot of people want to talk about. To jumpstart the conversation – as we do for many difficult topics – we often turn to media depictions of sexual abuse, they break the ice and help create a safer space in which people feel more comfortable discussing how they relate to the issue.

Films like Barry Levinson’s Sleepers, Deborah Kampmeier’s Hounddog, Anjelica Huston’s Bastard Out of Carolina, and Almodovar’s Bad Education tackle the subject head on, but sometimes the films that make us most at ease in approaching such an ill-at-ease topic are the ones that deal with it metaphorically, films like, believe it or not, Ridley Scott’s Alien.

According to Phoenix Kaspian and his new essay “Exploring the Cycle of Trauma in Alien,” the facehugger attack and subsequent “impregnation” of Kane (John Hurt) can be viewed as a metaphor for sexual assault. Furthermore, the fact that the alien can’t be removed from Kane without killing him is also a metaphor, this one for the family system and how challenging abuse within it can lead to even greater violence and destruction.

I know you typically come her for fun supercuts, wacky mashups, or videos highlighting director trademarks or techniques, but today I’m asking you to spend eight minutes with an insightful, erudite, compassionate essay that takes an unexpected source and turns it into a conversation starter on how we as a society recognize and respond to this most heinous sort of abuse.


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