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Alien Threat in Pop Culture

Wed Jun 6, 2012, 10:18 PM by techgnotic:icontechgnotic:

:icontechgnotic: Jun 6, 2012 by techgnotic

Could the alien invasion film phenomenon be an expression of the hope for humanity’s unity?

Prometheus, the highly anticipated prequel to all the Alien films (which also features the return of original Alien director Ridley Scott) opens Friday. The film’s story involves a team of astronauts sent to deepest space to investigate the origins of human life, only to discover that an imminent alien invasion may soon wipe out all human life.

The “alien invasion threat” was first mainstreamed into American popular consciousness in 1938 when Orson Welles and his Mercury Theatre Group broadcast a radio version of H.G. Wells’ “War of the Worlds” which sent the country into chaos. Despite announcements at the commercial breaks that the program was fictional, people took to the streets with guns and invading spaceships and rampaging aliens were spotted everywhere. Film historians credit the 1950s deluge of alien invasion films to the paranoia in which the aliens made for nicely metaphoric stand-ins for communists and a feared Soviet invasion. But after several decades of relative alien invasion inaction there has now been an exponential explosion in alien invasion films (and videogames).

In 1977, the Close Encounters aliens were friendlies and in 1982, E.T. was even friendlier. Now it seems at least once a month there’s an alien force invading from outer space or rising out of the Pacific Ocean intent on our extinction. What’s going on here?

The genius of science-fiction is that it can project a specific aspect of the human experience into a future time or against a fundamentally different environment in order to gain a new perspective on that aspect of being human from a radically “objective” viewpoint. In the simplest sci-fi, six-shooters become ray-guns and battleships become spaceships. One simply imagines updates to human armaments a few centuries into the future. In more sophisticated sci-fi, like Solaris (novel by Stanislaw Lem, filmed by Tarkovsky, and by Soderbergh) the possible future evolution of human emotions and identity is explored. Science fiction just seems to be the go-to in storytelling when significant numbers of people start feeling trepidatious about onrushing events and would like their writers and other artists to start vetting some possible ways out of what appears to be something wickedly catastrophic just beyond the horizon. Could this explain the current inundation of alien invasion movies and videogames?

Could there literally be an irrational fear of an actual alien invasion?

It doesn’t seem likely. I would like to propose the thought that there might be a more hopeful and life-affirming flip-side to the out-of-control alien invasion coin. It has been a standard strategy down through the ages to bring together the warring factions of one’s own nation by creating rumors of imminent invasion by another, foreign, nation. Unity becomes preferable to total annihilation. This strategy of “unity for survival” is described as “the enemy of my enemy is my friend.”

Could it be that in contemplating our current planetary perils – global terrorism, resource collapse, child soldiers, climate change, economic chaos – that we’ve become completely overwhelmed? Have we decided that things have gone too wrong for too long to ever be righted by a sudden emergence of human rationality – that there will never be the recognition of our being one human family? And could it be that this is the depressed state out of which is being issued this now ubiquitous fantasy of an alien invasion that would force all nations, all religions, all peoples of the Earth to finally bond together for their mutual self-defense? Could it be that movie-going audiences are subconsciously seeing an Alien Armageddon not as “the end” but as our last great hope for unifying humanity?

I think this might be the real resonance that’s going on just below the surface. I think audiences are finding a real joy in the moments in these movies when all petty tribal and political differences are set aside and people of all colors and creeds fight as brothers and sisters against the impossible odds. “The enemy of my enemy is my friend” may not be the most heartwarming of human sentiments, but maybe it’s just what we need in our times of such oppressive psychic depression.

In any case, as we await whatever new technologies, urban landscapes, vehicles or apocalyptic scenarios the future might bring, we have the solace of enjoying our artists' imaginative renditions of our possible future existences and possible apocalyptic scenarios.


For the Reader

1Do you think our human race will manage to work out all its social, political, economic, religious and environmental differences and eventually achieve a peaceful and prosperous future – or will a unifying alien invasion be necessary to keep us from destroying each other?

2Do you believe our first contact with actual alien beings will be peaceful and mutually beneficial or violent and possibly dangerous to our survival?

3Do you believe war is an essential component in the nature and existences of all living biological organisms, and thus even if peace is eventually achieved on Earth, we must prepare for inevitable war with alien life forms?  Or do you believe that war is existential rather than essential, i.e., a response to resource scarcity that will surely have been long evolved out of the DNA of any alien life forms technologically advanced enough to reach Earth and make contact with us?

4Should we be cloning an Expendables army, just in case?

deviantART: Online Trust Alliance 2012 Award Receipient

At deviantART, we always strive to keep your user experience safe so you’re provided with an environment in which you’re comfortable to create and grow. As part of our ongoing effort to keep your user experience protected, we’ve been documenting ways to encourage awareness and ensure a safer deviantART — first in April and August of 2011, and again in January of this year.

In 2011, deviantART became a member of the Online Trust Alliance (OTA), an overarching group of companies dedicated to preventing and fighting malicious activities that occur on the Web. This was one of many steps taken as a means of ensuring your safety and privacy while on deviantART, and doing so placed deviantART alongside Microsoft, PayPal, Twitter, and other leading companies working to make your Internet experience free of malicious activity.

We are pleased to announce that this year, deviantART has been nominated to the Online Trust Honor Roll. This nomination came from the analysis of deviantART’s Privacy Policy, required email authentication, and several other factors. The 2012 OTA report examined over 1,200 domains and privacy policies, approximately 3,600 Web pages, and over 500 million emails. In addition, public records were analyzed for recent data breach incidents and settlements with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). Of the companies evaluated, less than 30% qualified for an Honor Roll nomination.

We consider this an honor and are grateful toward the OTA for the recognition of our efforts. In previous years, many of the nominees were Fortune 500 companies, putting deviantART among some of the biggest and most successful businesses in the world, with regard to safety and security practices. If you would like to view the full list of 2012 Honor Roll recipients, they can be found on the OTA website.

Your protection continues to be a priority, and we will keep doing our best to ensure that your user experience on deviantART remains a safe one.

Site Update: New Share Buttons

Thu May 31, 2012, 6:48 PM

In our continuous effort to improve the deviantART experience, we're publishing Site Updates to keep members informed and to gather feedback. Below is a list of recent changes to the site, bug fixes, and feedback that was brought up by members in the last Site Update.

What's New

New Share Buttons: Pinterest and Google+ 

New Share Buttons by danlev

We've added two more share buttons to deviation pages! This was a popular request, both in comments from members here on deviantART as well as on deviantART's Google+ Page, and so we've be adding buttons that allow you to share on Google+ and Pinterest, in addition to the share tools that are already in place.

As with the other share tools, it allows for easy sharing on social networking sites with only a few clicks, while also ensuring that the artist whose work you're sharing is properly credited. When using the Pinterest button, we also include an extra link to the artist's profile for additional attribution. If a viewer wants to see more by the original artist, they can click through to that artist's deviantART page without complication.

Bug Fixes


  • As an ongoing effort to keep deviantART safe, we will be sweeping reports daily about members uploading malware and other malicious files. We have made some changes to the allowed file types in categories where members generally upload downloadable files, such as skins and themes categories. We will continue to monitor the situation and act accordingly.
  • For some members, the Groups widget was listing a slightly incorrect number of Groups they were in. Fixed by shadowhand
  • Username changes were not reflected in Search. For example, when searching deviations by the new username, it would not return the expected results. Fixed by ZombieCoder
  • Some journal thumbnails had title alignment issues when displayed on user profile and favorites. Fixed by ZombieCoder
  • Availability of the 3-month pre-paid Premium Memberships for purchase with Points was briefly broken. Fixed by ZombieCoder
  • The email change verification page always welcomed a user as a new member. Fixed by drommk
  • The "give Points" modal had slightly overlapping input areas. Fixed by drommk
  • Word documents were being incorrectly recognized as another type of file. Fixed by shadowhand
  • The Friends list had an issue where changes made using the "select all or "select none" feature was not saved. Fixed by ZombieCoder
  • The footer poll layout was displaying incorrectly when browsers were smaller than 1260 pixels wide. Fixed by drommk
  • The error message "1" when attempting to create a group with a name that's already taken was not very informative. Fixed by muteor

deviantART muro

  • Many users were confused by small files being opened zoomed in. Files will no longer opened at larger than 100% resolution.  Fixed by mudimba
  • The "preview" tool was confusing users, so we removed it.  Fixed by mudimba
  • The section that displays information about a deviation during redraw playback was inconsistent and sometimes obscured artwork. We changed the behavior of when and how that will be displayed. Fixed by mudimba
  • There were problems with blank canvases being created when a user went to and left without drawing anything.  This could cause confusing situations where blank files were stored in a user's or where folders had a blank white thumb.  Fixed by mudimba

  • Copy and pasting a link with #edit in the URL wouldn't open the inline editor. Fixed by aMoniker
  • The file and edit menus were sometimes appearing when viewing deviations. Fixed by samshull
  • The preview button in the skin modal did nothing. Fixed by kemayo
  • Firefox and IE scrolled to the top of the document when a command was applied, even if selection was visible. Fixed by Alisey
  • Identified some issues with applying toolbar commands to selections that did not contain visible text. Fixed by Alisey
  • Fixed some issues where Writer did not auto-adjust the height of the document. Fixed by Alisey
  • The Journal Extras area caused a second horizontal scroll bar to appear. Fixed by Alisey
  • The 'done' button in the header could not be scrolled to if the window was less than 950px wide. Fixed by Alisey
  • Assorted alignment issues were fixed. Fixed by Alisey

Your Feedback

We appreciate the comments left on last week's site update! Feedback included:

  • The response to Group Journal comments being included in the message center was entirely positive! 
  • There were mixed thoughts on the justified big thumbnails. Some dislike it, some liked it better left aligned, some like it as it is currently. Several users don't like the lighter background that appears on smaller thumbs.
  • Changes to the Groups widget were mostly well-received, though many users would like to be able to change the default display so that it shows the groups they are a member of instead of the groups they admin.
  • Some users have suggested various features, such as folder thumbnail customization to be consistent between individual user galleries and Group galleries.
  • Some users would like the Share link and thumb codes to automatically copy, when clicked. From 8manderz8
  • Several users have reported issues with the drag and drop thumbnail function on the Daily Deviations page. We are currently looking into this problem.

Bugs, issues, and feedback from previous Site Updates

Discuss!  Lightbulb

What are your thoughts on the page customization options deviantART currently offers? As a member browsing the site, do you enjoy seeing how other members have customized their page, or do you feel overwhelmed by the customization options some deviants use that increase page weight and loading time, such as complex background images and reorganized widgets? Do you like that members can customize appearance other than widget placement, or does the lack of uniformity from one user page to another bother you?

 Lightbulb Have a suggestion, idea, or feedback? Leave a comment on this article!
:bug: Find a bug? Report it to the Help Desk(Be as detailed as possible!)

A Thousand Years Tradition of Scaring Children at Bedtime
Continues for Children of All Ages

News of the discovery of 500 “new” fairy tales collected over 150 years ago in Germany and locked away in a forgotten archive has me thinking about the enduring importance of these narrative treasures in the lives of human societies worldwide. My worry, have fairy tales been marginalized by modernism?

Do you remember being read fairy tales as a child? Or was your earliest immersion into children’s literature dominated by Dr. Seuss and The Magic Treehouse series? And how long was it before a Harry Potter novel or Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and other TV cartoon characters captured your imagination and supplanted parents as curators of storytelling time? Has something been lost in the shift away from the classic fairy tales toward a less “upsetting” childhood syllabus? Has a part of our identity been denied us, an important anchoring to our past generations and their most basic teachings been allowed to come undone and set us adrift?

Check out this chart I found from a few years ago

Top Bedtime Stories of 2008

  1. The Very Hungry Caterpillar, Eric Carle (1969)

  2. Mr Men, Roger Hargreaves (1971)

  3. The Gruffalo, Julia Donaldson (1999)

  4. Winnie the Pooh, A.A. Milne (1926)

  5. Aliens Love Underpants, Claire Freedman & Ben Cort (2007)

  6. Thomas and Friends from The Railway Series, Rev.W.Awdry (1945)

  7. The Wind in the Willows, Kenneth Grahame (1908)

  8. What a Noisy Pinky Ponk!, Andrew Davenport (2008)

  9. Goldilocks and the Three Bears, Robert Southey (1837)

Top 10 Fairy Tales We No Longer Read

  1. Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs

  2. Hansel and Gretel

  3. Cinderella

  4. Little Red Riding Hood

  5. The Gingerbread Man

  6. Jack and the Beanstalk

  7. Sleeping Beauty

  8. Beauty and the Beast

  9. Goldilocks and the Three Bears

  10. The Emperor's New Clothes

From a poll of 3,000 British parents, by

At some point along the way, parents were told that fairy tales are too violent for children’s bedtimes, a sure cause of fright and insomnia, a possible cause of more serious psychic trauma. Even when classic tales like “Peter Pan” are given a Walt Disney film treatment, all of the much darker parts of the story are “disappeared” to deliver a more harmless and more commercial product. (Tip to the wise reader: Be sure at some point in your adulthood to treat yourself to the more satisfying original sources of everything you’ve ever enjoyed as a movie or TV show; whether it’s “Peter Pan,” “Dracula,” or “James Bond,” you’ll be glad you did.)

Societies tend to censor in their pursuit of public tranquility, but it’s hard to keep a good story down (suppressed). Fairy tales keep reemerging at regular intervals in new, transformed, even futurist iterations. The basic lessons these stories teach are simply too resonant with the vibrations of the basic questions in our lives recurring generation after generation, to not be as a riveting and relevant as when they were first circulated in voices by candlelight. This week it’s the opening of “Snow White and the Huntsman.” Early reviews indicate that the film improves upon the main “lesson” of physical beauty possibly disguising a black heart together with inner goodness being the truest beauty has been improved upon. According to early reviewers this updated version emphasizes the severity of the overemphasis on attractiveness in women’s lives generally and the modern woman’s struggle to be herself and rise by her own abilities rather than on her looks. What on it’s trailer surface looks to be just the sort of summer fantasy and action entertainment I’ll certainly enjoy on Thursday midnight – also presents some important life lessons that younger viewers need to know. The fairy tale, and its sacred mission, lives!

It’s not just in new retellings of classic fairy tales that this desire to revisit these stories resurfaces in later adulthood. The current inundation of competing movie superhero canons seems to reflect the need to sort out basic human questions about right and wrong, patriotism and treason, honor and deceit, valor and cowardice, etc. Yes, I am especially thinking of Joss Whedon's wonderful Avengers screenplay. The complexity and gray areas that make these issues so difficult in adulthood makes our basic grounding in the ethics and absolutes of a childhood fairy tale “education’ all the more important.

Fairy tales forewarn and prepare us for a life that will be loaded with dangers – but dangers that can be intelligently calibrated so that we’ll know when we must be brave and fight despite the odds, and when we should retreat to seek a safer way around. Moving beyond films, I am hopeful an upcoming video game being developed by Krillbrite entitled "Among The Sleep" brings this classic fairy tale aesthetic to the gaming medium with a compelling and rich narrative to go with it. I also believe the Latin American literary movement known as “magical realism,” exemplified in novels like Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s “One Hundred Years of Solitude” is another example of the reemergence of the fairy tale in “adult” storytelling. Not to be confused with “surrealism,” in “magical realism” the narrative remains absolutely realistic – but with the moments of magical epiphany just as emphatically asserted to be “real.” The effect is a powerful statement that there is more to life than what the controlling “order” demands life must be limited to. The novels of Isabel Allende also comes to mind as examples of "magical realism”. In his “real” fairy tales, Marquez teaches that there is real magic in our lives, but it is only attainable by those with the truest and most faithful hearts.


For the Reader

1What is your favorite classic fairy tale and why do you suppose it has a special significance for you?

2How do you feel about Snow White and Alice in Wonderland becoming armored women warriors in their latest film retellings?  Is this an empowerment of women?

3Is there a particular fairy tale that terrified you as a child?

4Is there a particular fairy tale that excited your imagination and lifted your heart?

5In your view which popular film, book or video game has most misrepresented or tortured the essence of a classic fairytale?

What comes to mind when you hear the name Pablo Picasso? That’s right, it’s time to break it down, Cubism-style! For the first time ever, we are hosting a Messenger Bag Design Challenge! We want you to create an original design for the flap of the bag in the style of Cubism.

For this challenge, we are defining Cubism as an art style in which instead of depicting objects from one viewpoint, the artist depicts the subject from multiple viewpoints to represent the subject in a greater context. Often, the surfaces intersect at seemingly random angles, removing a coherent sense of depth. The background and object planes interpenetrate one another to create a shallow ambiguous space.

Your design should appear on the flap of the bag (below the zipper), using only four colors. The templates provided come in black or grey so please do not change the color of the bag. Remember that the color of the bag can be used in your design without counting as one of the 4 colors you use!

With the Cubism Messenger Bag Design Challenge, we hope to see some exciting new images and perhaps some new deviants who haven’t participated in a Design Challenge yet. Give it a shot and get cubed!

:bulletgreen: Participation is easy!
  • You come up with potential designs for our deviantART Messenger Bags.
  • Deviants vote on their favorite designs.
  • Judges choose 2 designs from the highest-voted submissions.
  • Artists of the winning submissions get cash and their designs printed on Messenger Bags for all to see and buy!
Entries should display an original image or images in the style of Cubism. For more inspiration on this deviantART Design Challenge, check out the Cubism asset pack!

The templates:

:bulletgreen: Update!

Unfortunately there has been some confusion in regards to the design templates for the Cubism Design Challenge. Many entries have shown a different image for the top and bottom views of the template; however, the idea is to have only one unique image per entry. The top image of the template is a view of the full messenger bag. The bottom is a close up of just the flap where the design will be printed. If your current design entry has multiple images please adjust it to only have one. Any entries that show a different design on both template images will be removed from the design challenge category.

You may submit your entry with a design on the top image, the bottom image, or both but it must be the same image.

If you have multiple designs you may submit each as separate entries. Just note that only one of your Entries may be chosen as a Semi-Finalist or Finalist.

Please read the rules listed in the article for further guidance.

Thank you.

:bulletgreen: Prizes, prizes, prizes!

Two winners will be selected! Each winner receives $1,500 cash and 10 Messenger Bags with his or her winning design! Plus, each of the winning designs will be sold in the deviantART Shop. You could find your Cubism design printed on someone’s bag out in the world someday.

:bulletgreen: Not a designer?

You can vote, too! Just like the last Design Challenge, you still have a chance to make an impact and determine the future of deviantART’s designs without being a designer by voting. All throughout the Design Challenge, keep an eye on the Cubism Category.

If you see a design that would make a great Messenger Bag, click “I Want This” on the deviation to cast your vote for the entry. View the entries right now!

:bulletgreen: Worried about cheaters?

Don’t worry. When the contest is over, deviantART will review the source of all entry data (including but not limited to username and IP data) for suspicious activity and remove fraudulent votes. Also, just because a design has the most votes doesn’t mean it automatically wins. Some designs are disqualified for not following the rules. The 100 qualifying designs receiving the most votes will move to the final judging round, where our panel of experts will pick two winners.

:eager: Don’t delay!

Hurry! The deadline for entries is June 12, 2012, and voting ends on June 17, 2012. Submit your designs and cast your votes now!

Click here to get started! And be sure to read the Official Terms for all the technical details.

Let those Cubism ideas jump out of your head and onto a Messenger Bag! :la:

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