Abortion and ALIEN 3
“Think of all we could learn from it! It’s the chance of a lifetime! You must let me have it!”
The issue of women’s reproductive rights is now, again, a hot-button issue with the alleged plans of overturning ‘Roe v Wade’, a 1973 law which protects women from government oversight should they choose to have an abortion.
There’s a little film from 1992 which you should probably watch with reproductive rights being a hot topic again with the ‘Roe v Wade’ controversy.
That little film is called…
It’s no surprise to anyone that the 20th Century Fox science-fiction horror series Alien is ripe with feminist imagery and parables starting with Ridley Scott’s original 1979 picture where Sigourney Weaver plays Ellen Ripley, a woman who is forced to survive an attempted rape by an android (Ash) and then out-smart a glistening, black, creature called the Xenomorph with penetrating tail and phallic shaped head.
This continued into James Cameron’s ALIENS in 1986 where Ripley and a squad of space marines go to LV246 to destroy an Alien Queen. Along the way, Ripley finds a surrogate daughter by the name of Newt. Whereas ALIEN was a film about the oppressive nature of men in space, ALIENS was a more nurturing film about Ripley’s (and the Queen’s) motherhood and making a feminist future in a male-dominated space.
David Fincher’s embattled 1992 production of ALIEN 3, brings the loving themes of ALIENS plummeting to the toxic, ghastly, polluted planet of Fury 161 and with it, a message of the times that encapsulated the fear and panic of the AIDS epidemic and 90’s third-wave feminism amidst the taboo and still-raging “Abortion Wars” of the time.
In the Bible, Psalms Chapter 119 verse 161, we are told by David that it has been common for the best men to be persecuted, and the case is the worst if the princes of man are the persecutors of God.
In ALIEN 3, Ripley’s escape shuttle from the end of ALIENS brutally crashes on the harsh prison planet of Fury 161 where Newt and Bishop are killed on impact, and the android Bishop is cut in half, basically dead as well.
Fury is an all-male planet where the inmates- rapists, child murderers, woman beaters- have all been basically left for dead and continue to survive under the religious unification of a man named Dillion.
Ripley soon learns that during her cryostasis aboard the escape pod, she was attacked by a Face Hugger, and impregnated with a Xenomorph embryo. A scan using the escape pod’s barely functioning medical apparatus reveals this baby is none other than an Alien Queen. Ripley is forced to realize she is carrying a rape baby, and knows from experience that the birth will mutilate and kill her. While this is happening, another Face Hugger attached itself to one of the planet’s livestock, and birthed a Xenomorph dubbed “The Dragon” by the inmates.
As the planet is a former prison complex, they have no conventional weapons to battle the Dragon, and Ripley makes a desperate plea to Weyland-Yutani (the ominous company) to rescue her and the inmates in exchange for her and her “baby”.
On an all-male planet, the men lust for her and fear her in equal measure. Ripley is almost the vicim of a gang rape, before the aforementioned religious leader Dillon saves her. Ripley has battled some of the most vicious creatures in the galaxy, but the most horrific circumstances the audience finds her in is at the hands of men.
Despite this, Ripley uses herself as a target to bait The Dragon, knowing it will not harm her directly because of the Queen she carries. Ripley carries her rape-baby, knowing it is the hope for the Xenomorph species, to save the men she met and befriended on Fury. One of her attempted rapists is even allowed redemption, sacrificing himself to trap The Dragon so that Ripley and his fellow men may live.
The film’s climax, set in a cavernous smelting core, sees the clone of the Weyland-Yutani founder (another Bishop-model android) pleading with Ripley to let them have her baby, as she attempts to kill herself by diving into the bubbling lava beneath her. Here, we see the duality of men in Ripley’s life.
She initially distrusted Bishop in ALIENS, as he was an android, the same thing that attempted to choke her to death by shoving a rolled up magazine down her throat in ALIEN (symbolic of course of forced oral sodomy).
While she befriended Bishop, putting her PTSD aside through the events of ALIENS, now she is faced with a man wearing Bishop’s face, pleading her to essentially not abort her baby, arguing for the future of the Xenomorph species and the promise of Weyland-Yutani having their own queen to research, poke, and prod.
This is almost sympathetic towards the unborn Queen itself. In ALIENS, Ripley and the Queen had a sort of primal understanding of eachother- The Queen seemed to acknowledge Ripley would do anything for her “daughter” Newt while The Queen would do anything to protect her unborn Xenomorphs, who were slaughtered wholesale by Ripley, culminating in the iconic “Get away from her you bitch!” final battle.
Ripley knows that by giving birth, her “baby”, The Queen, will essentially be torn apart in a laboratory, dissected, and experimented upon. A similar argument for most cases of abortion, where the child will be doomed to a life either by disease, poverty, or a variation of conditions.
The company screams in pain- the cries of an all-male group- as Ripley casts herself into the lava, killing herself and her unborn Queen. Choosing to die by her own hand instead of dying in horrific child birth and leaving her “child” to be brutalized by the company.
There’s four other pages worth of imagery to discuss in this franchise, including the abortion and ramifications of another Xenomorph in 2012’s PROMETHEUS, but that’ll have to wait...maybe next week?
Cinema is a powerful tool that holds a mirror up to society, and the Alien franchise is a very special and specific example of the times.
What do you think?
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