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Considering "Super 8"... Movies In Which Aliens Land In Black Neighborhoods (Survey)

by Tambay A. Obenson
June 7, 2011 10:33 AM
10 Comments
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Ha! A little Tuesday fun...

In case you haven't heard, J.J. Abrams' supposed homage to the Steven Spielberg of old, aka Super 8, opens this weekend. Sergio has already seen it, and I'll be doing the same shortly.

The film, which centers on a group of white kids in a small Ohio town, in the 1970s, whose adventures into filmmaking with their trustee Super 8mm camera are interrupted by a train crash carrying an alien life form.

The plot-line reminded me of an age-old question that's been asked by others before me, and that we've maybe even brought up on the old S&A site; and that is, why aliens in Hollywood movies never seem to land/crash/stowaway/etc in black neighborhoods.

Of course I immediately remembered John Sayles' 1984 classic allegorical tale, Brother From Another Planet, which starred Joe Morton - a film that is still, quite frankly, transgressive even today; and most recently, the British flick fanboys have been buzzing about since its South By Southwest premiere in March, Attack The Block, which still doesn't have a USA release date.

But what about that 27-year middle gap? With Attack The Block on the horizon, what films have been released since Brother From Another Planet fit the above criteria - aliens landing/crashing/stowed away/getting jiggy/etc in areas with a dominant black population? Or, to make it easier, alien movies that feature blacks in starring roles.

District 9 maybe? The aliens are forced to live in slum-like conditions, but their initial meeting with humans is in their space vessel, which hovers above the city (Johannesburg). So, I'm not so sure about that one.

Help me out here folks... what else am I missing?

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10 Comments

  • Dankwa Brooks | June 9, 2011 11:09 AMReply

    @TT It is what it is. On the Do the Right Thing 2 disc DVD they included the Cannes Film Festival Press Conference and all of the foreign journalists kept asking "where are the drugs?". I just thought, is that all what foreigners think of black people living in the city? (WTF is "inner city" anyway? Not Uptown? Not Downtown?)  Anyway, I'm from Bed Stuy Brooklyn and I never saw drugs...now when we had to move to Crown Heights...

    I live in Baltimore now and A LOT of older people HATE The Wire because is purports a negative image of Baltimore. While YES a lot of what you see in The Wire is true, it was mostly a crime show targeting an investigation of drug dealers so what are you going to show? Stories involving the more affluent areas of the city? And I'm sure a lot of drug dealing goes on there too, just the prescription pill kind. Definitely not the violence fueled open air drug market kind.

  • Jay | June 9, 2011 1:52 AMReply

    Attack the Block is for me, the most entertaining film of the year. It may be a bit overhyped in the fanboy world, but it definitely deserves the praise it's been getting. Best horror/comedy I've seen in years.

    And Tambay, I think Carpenter's They Live is probably the closest to the criteria of 'Aliens invading the hood' although it's not 'ethnic' based, it is class based. If you consider occult stories as an 'invasion by the other' (meaning a destructive force uprooting the status quo) then Cundieff's Tales from the Hood might be be appropriate.

  • Dankwa Brooks | June 8, 2011 9:45 AMReply

    “age-old question that’s been asked by others before me, and that we’ve maybe even brought up on the old S&A site; and that is, why aliens in Hollywood movies never seem to land/crash/stowaway/etc in black neighborhoods.”


    My question wasn’t exactly that- it was why in Hollywood movies, horror movie killers never seem to kill anyone in black neighborhoods?

    I studied screenwriting at Morgan State University (through a concentration developed from Warner Brothers Television) and my screenplay for Advanced Screenwriting was a black horror movie Terror at Harkers Row. It was my goal to write a slasher killer in the hood story and have the kids react like real black kids would. NO there weren’t automatic weapons involved either and there weren’t any white girls falling down in the woods either. I got an A on the screenplay and in the class and my professor from Morgan told me recently to make that movie and I would love to, given the right financing…the age old question right?

    Anyway, I said all that to say that I was delighted and excited to receive tickets to the US screening of Attack the Block because while not my idea (Thank God) it was similar, inner city, slum, ghetto (whatever you want to call them) kids fighting a force they don’t know that’s killing them all.

    Attack the Block was the BEST Horror movie I’ve seen in a long time and was really faithful to how I think black kids in the ghetto would react. My bullsh*t meter is very sensitive to such portrayals.

    I spoke to another filmmaker friend of mine after the screening. He tried to see it at SXSW and he couldn’t get in, but he said that ATB was the one film everyone was saying is the one to see. He also said he heard it was going to be released in the US this summer and he hopes that it doesn’t get lost in the summer shuffle of “blockbusters” so it could get its due respect. I agree. You can read my review (and see my smiling face) at http://bit.ly/lFtASe

  • TT | June 8, 2011 8:07 AMReply

    I saw ATTACK THE BLOCK a few weeks ago and I did enjoy the movie. BUT why do Black kids in the inner city ALWAYS have to be portrayed as Thugs? I grew up in South LA and I know for a fact that most of us are not violent criminals. They could have easily made them normal kids in the neighborhood who are not apart of a gang and the film would have been just as enjoyable. It is almost like it is sending the message that Black people are a menace wherever we go!

  • Janice | June 8, 2011 4:16 AMReply

    Meet Dave (2008) starring Eddie Murphy was hella funny and a good movie. Totally overlooked! I blame the trailer used promote the film.

  • BluTopaz | June 7, 2011 12:39 PMReply

    Sorry Tamara, imo the main sci fi in your plot would be Black people uniting, not the aliens.

    I can't really answer the question, as I haven't seen a lot of sci fi films and Ona's explanation is interesting. I've often thought of the slave trade itself as science fiction --Caucasians as aliens from another world landing and distributing the Earth's people all over the planet. There must be sci fi films with that basic racial analogy.

  • Tamara | June 7, 2011 12:27 PMReply

    Or, to make it easier, alien movies that feature blacks in starring roles.

    Didn't see this the first time around.

    Event Horizon?

    Sphere?

    The Quiet Earth? (thank you imdb.com. and i've got to add this to my queue)

    Space is the Place!

  • Ona | June 7, 2011 12:00 PMReply

    Well, Independence Day... MIB franchise
    John Carpenter films may be an interesting option here, namely They Live and The Thing.
    To partner with the potential counting of District 9, (and not to give away my future PhD dis topic) but the Alien franchise is all about Alien's coming into contact with marginal elements of society which are (by nature, design, and definition) racially diverse. Alien- space truckers/factory workers, Aliens- military, Alien 3- prisoners, Alien Res- criminals. That's why there's always magical negros in these films.
    Those are just my initial thoughts...

  • Kwes | June 7, 2011 11:59 AMReply

    Men in Black, The Guyver (with Jimmy Walker as an alien!), War of the Worlds started in NJ...

    Meteor Man?

  • Tamara | June 7, 2011 11:17 AMReply

    why aliens in Hollywood movies never seem to land/crash/stowaway/etc in black neighborhoods.

    *begins stretching*

    Because common sense, love, peace and harmony would abound. There would be no us vs. them (ultimately) as one would sympathize/empathize with the plight of the other. And were the case that the aliens were hostile, BFU (Black Folk United) would rise against the enemy and overtake them.

    That's too much positivity for folk. Paints us in too good of a light...

    *end-stretching...and scene*

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