So if I had to pick one show that was my all-time favorite TV show it would probably be… well, it wouldn’t be Ancient Aliens, I can tell you that much. Once again, I find myself unsure of where to begin. Or even wondering how I’m going to convince Lady Geek Girl that Ancient Aliens fits in with what we normally talk about on this blog. But, hey, I figured that since the show is about aliens with the added bonus of the bastardization of every religion—or any notable thing in history—ever, how does it not fall into our spectrum?
But I’m not about to launch into a post on Ancient Aliens. I think anyone who’s ever seen that show can come up with their own conclusion within minutes. Either, you believe everything they say, or you watch it to see them completely fuck up whatever historical facts they managed to get right. Which is not many to begin with.
But there is something to be said about aliens in ancient times affecting pop-culture at large. We as a society are obsessed with aliens. And the idea that they did visit us in ancient times even launched one of my favorite TV series: Stargate SG-1.
So today, you guessed it; we’re going to talk about aliens in pop-culture. Or more accurately, how they’re portrayed, why they would even want to visit Earth to begin with, and some of the problems that might occur when a story establishes an advanced society and doesn’t always stick by it.
So while overthinking the relation between shows like Stargate and Ancient Aliens—or even presuming that there is one—I started thinking about the reasons movies and TV shows give for aliens to come to our lonely little corner of the universe. And I tend to get really picky about the reasons behind them traveling all the way over to us, or even inconsistencies you might find within their alien technology. A lot of times, reasons for the aliens to come to Earth seem half-assed. Look at Battleship. They came because we sent out a signal. And then what? I don’t know. They didn’t seem too interested in conquering us, which is what the protagonist and everyone else assumed they came to do, and they didn’t really do much but present a challenge for our characters to overcome. They had no end goal for their epic space journey.
So the first thing that most stories need is a reason for aliens to come. If there isn’t a good reason or purpose behind the visit, we’ll end up with something cheap, like Battleship. Signs says they’re here to harvest us. Independence Day has them mosey on over for our resources. Neither of these reasons makes much sense to me either, for one of the same reasons Ancient Aliens doesn’t make much sense, which says they came for our gold. But let’s look at Signs and Independence Day. You see, the thing about them coming to eat us or refining our resources, those things generally exist on other planets, especially if you’ve established a universe where life exists on other planets. Why come all the way to Earth and deal with us when food and resources probably exist elsewhere?
But the problems don’t stop there.
Like, in Signs, they come to make us into food. They’ve managed space travel, so we can say that they’re smart. Yet, they’re not smart enough to figure out how to get past wooden doors or even, I don’t know, to wear protective suits on a planet that’s mostly water, when water is like acid on their skin. Also, I’m going to go out on a limb here and assume that they had a food supply of some kind on their home world, since they would need one in order to even exist. I can only conclude that it ran out and they were so desperate for a people-happy-meal that they came here and didn’t plan anything in advance.
And inconsistencies in judgement and logic, or even in technology, seem commonplace in alien societies. Think about Star Wars. It’s a universe that’s medically advanced enough that they can clone an entire army. Yet, the concept of skin grafts doesn’t even cross anyone’s mind. I’m sorry, but if you can clone an army, you can do skin grafts. And if you’ve managed space travel, you can probably figure out how to knock down a wooden door. Furthermore, in Signs, the aliens are also smart enough to scout out the area for food, which they must know is capable of fighting back, yet their only self-defense besides camouflage is a spray that they have to get up close and personal for. Maybe it would have been more prudent for them to, I don’t know, release a harmless gas into the air and just take people while they’re passed out. When you are advanced enough to travel through space, you don’t need camouflage to fight your battles. There are better ways. Pretty much, that invasion should have been handled in any way other than how it was. And once again, I’m confused that a culture that’s managed space travel acted so primitively.
Then we have Independence Day, in which the aliens arrive to blow shit up and make Will Smith look badass. Okay, and to drain the planet of its resources. They couldn’t have mined an asteroid belt for that, preferably one closer to home? What planetary resources were they after that they couldn’t find in their own galaxy? Trees?
I certainly hope it wasn’t gold.
I also really love how these advanced species are collected enough to launch planetary large attacks, but they haven’t learned the importance of not wasting materials. If they had, they wouldn’t have needed to come in the first place. But they just go through planets over and over again. I also love how they lose to people who should be significantly primitive in comparison to them. It’s that same feeling watching Avatar, because even if the animals did help out, there was no way the humans would have lost. The Na’vi are just not advanced enough. And Avatar is interesting to me, because the alien invaders in that movie are us. And yet, even then, we’re having problems in how we act. And there are also inconsistencies in our technology and battle plans as well. Like, it may just be an oversight that the humans didn’t use bullet-proof glass in their gunships, or some other really strong material. Yet the Na’vi couldn’t breech their windows when the Hometree got blown up, so maybe the humans replaced the glass with something more breakable between then and the end of the movie.
But any logical inconsistencies aside, at least the reasons behind going to Pandora are believable in their own right.
So in Avatar, by the time the movie starts, we as humans are not curious about life on other planets. We know it exists. That question is done and answered. And we’ve had to have known for quite some time. So we need another reason to go to Pandora. And look at the Goa’uld from Stargate. They’re also really aware that life on other planets exists. And if you really think about it, the reason the humans go to Pandora is the same reason the Goa’uld have left Earth alone for nearly ten-thousand years. And that reason is very rare space resources.
They’re not traveling to other planets for food, like in Signs. They’ve got that. They’re not going to mine some aluminum or other common material, like in Independence Day, because for the most part the materials that make up Earth are everywhere else. And Earth is not part of some giant galactic political system, like in Star Wars.
So in Avatar, the humans are there for unobtainium, and in Stargate, the Goa’uld want Naquadah which cannot be found on Earth. While I don’t quite understand what unobtainium does, the purpose of Naquadah is very much established. It’s basically a mineral that allows the Goa’uld to build space ships and be the dominate military power in the universe. But regardless, that gives us reasons to go to other worlds. So at the very least, Avatar and Stargate have believable reasons to travel to other planets, or even to not travel to other planets.
So let’s look at Stargate. Because Earth doesn’t have Naquadah, the Goa’uld don’t bother with it until SG-1 starts becoming a pain in their ass. The System Lord Apophis stops by for a whole two minutes in the first episode to get to plot started, but other than that, the Goa’uld don’t really care about Earth, because Earth has nothing to offer them. Humans live all over the galaxy and Earth has no Naquadah. The Supreme System Lord Ra, Apophis’s brother, first used Earth for human resources, but he deposited humans on other planets—other planets that he and the System Lords have use for—so Ra doesn’t bother with Earth anymore. And even after the uprising, Ra didn’t feel a need to come back and subjugate the people of Earth again. He certainly could have, but he didn’t. The Goa’uld only start paying Earth any attention when SG-1 and all the other military personal start becoming a serious problem for them.
So currently, while I love all things alien, I don’t see too many believable reasons for aliens to visit us. Because I don’t understand what Earth has to offer that another life-supporting planets won’t. And just saying, I also don’t often see curiosity as a reason behind invasion, except for maybe in Battleship. On top of that, during invasions, we should get our asses handed to us. But we don’t, and oftentimes, it seems as though the aliens purposefully have an obvious weak spot that they don’t feel the need to address, for the sole purpose of allowing us to come out on top.