Last Friday I saw the 1986 film, ‘Aliens,’ for the first time. I didn’t know what to expect but I knew I was probably going to jump, yell, maybe want to throw up a little. I knew it was a thriller and I knew it was a cult classic but I didn’t expect to be so moved I would tear up.
This is why I loved this movie so so much. And it might be cliche to talk about, but whatever - I loved it because of the simple, obvious fact that the women in this movie were so BADASS. Sigourney freakin' Weaver, man. Like, there really aren’t any words. From the second she is on the screen you can literally FEEL her commanding presence. Never once is she an object — even when she’s just in her underwear. Those aren’t moments of sexuality but of reality and by that point you are so invested in her character you don’t care that she has an amazing body, you just want to see her safe. Also Vasquez. Keeping her shit together while everyone around her freaks out. She never once exhibits fear and fights until the very end. That’s a woman I admire.
There was also a lack of romance and a clear picture of the cowardice of man (even though Bill Paxton is one of my favorite parts of this film). While there WERE heroic men in this film (Bishop, Hicks) no one holds a candle to the badassery of Ripley. The sheer will that woman had and how she never, not ONCE, backed down from what she firmly believed in. I loved that so hard. I’m not a movie critic and my words aren’t eloquent but I just NEED to write about how important this film was to me.
Another thing I loved? The maternal aspect of the film. The fact that Ripley morphed into this mother for Newt. I loved this because it was like Ripley was having her cake and eating it too. There’s this age-old stigma in our culture that if you’re a badass, you can’t be a mother either. Like you can either 1. Kick an alien’s ass or 2. Stay at home with babies and root for your husband to kick ass. It’s rare to find a film that meshes the two so flawlessly.
Ripley’s maternal instinct wasn’t her weakness….on the contrary, it proved her strength and made her, without a doubt, the hero of the film. GOD I loved this. So, so much. Because it spoke volumes. Like, “Hey. HEY. You can be strong, opinionated, intellegient. AND you can be a mom too. AND oh my GOD get this — you can actually WANT to be a mom! That’s okay!”
That was so important to me. For so long I was actually ashamed of this desire I have in me to one day have a family and be a mother. I think it might have to do with going to college in New York City where everyone is very career-minded and then moving to Los Angeles where it’s the same. I’m 24 and saying aloud that sure, yes, one day I’d like to be a mom seems kind of scandalous. Just because that is something I want, one day, doesn’t mean it’s the only desire I have inside of me.
I love Ripley because she just exists as this person - this human - whose identity isn’t wrapped up in motherhood or a career - she is just a person. A human who is fighting for what she believes in and swallows her fear and just GOES FOR IT.
Also she has a cat and that might be the most important thing of it all.