My partner and I recently attended the Science Fiction Film Festival at OMSI (Oregon Museum of Science and Industry). And that means we spent a week gorging ourselves on some of the best science fiction movies ever made (and a few okay ones). Here’s what I took away from it.
The Day the Earth Stood Still
If you are an alien being and you come to planet Earth and say to people, “I come in peace,” somebody will shoot you. Then they will keep you in a military hospital against your will. When you express a genuine interest in learning the ways of mankind, they will tell you, “No, you have to stay here in this hospital against your will”, even though they attacked first. You will escape, and they will aggressively hunt you down. But that’s okay, because once you’ve passed on the message you came here to give, you can say “Eff you and your violence, crazy humans” and get back in your spaceship with your 8 foot tall robot, who’s swift and resolute justice is really quite frightening.
If you create an artificial intelligence, it can become sentient and turn on you. Bad.
Also, in a virtual reality, most people’s mental projection of themselves is to be dressed in tight leather pants, trench coats that are entirely too impractical for martial arts, and Ray Ban sunglasses. You won’t be comfortable, but you’ll look cool.
Some robots can be strangely adorable, especially if they are playing poker and watering your plants. But don’t bring a hippie on board. If it comes down to you or the plants, he will cut you. He will knife you, man.
You may be a billionaire genius who designs magnificent androids, but you can still be dumb enough to task them with slave labor. Come on, what’d you think they’d do when they develop emotions? Did you think they’d really love their work? Did you think they’d say to themselves, Golly, I sure do love working in the mines! Or, Too bad my life span is only four years, because being a pleasure bot IS MY CALLING. No, dumbass, they’re going to turn on you.
This. This is the kind of android you should design. The one that will replicate your last bottle of bourbon when you’re on a lifeless planet.
Also, if you are a male and you are on a planet with a bunch of other males and only one female, you can say ANYTHING – and I mean any stupid pick up line – to get under the female’s short, space-age skirt. Not to worry! She’s never seen a man other than her father before. Those pick up lines that you thought were charming but are really smarmy? She won’t know the difference! And if you’ve only known her for an hour, then you’re DEFINITELY in love with her, because pretty blonde girl.
Finally, a highly advanced species can manufacture a computer that’s as intelligent as they are, but they can’t design it so it’s smaller than the western United States.
The Last Starfighter
Finally, a payoff to playing a bunch of video games. The reward? If you get a high score, then you’ll be drafted into a brutal war before you graduate from high school!
Damn it, have you learned nothing about androids? Make the android that distills bourbon, not the one that turns on its shipmates and knowingly and willingly brings an alien being on board that lays itself in your intestines, bursts through your stomach while you’re eating breakfast, and rips apart all your shipmates…No! Not Ian Holm! The one that makes bourbon! BOURBON! Yes, that one! And the cuddly one that waters your plants.
Star Trek 2: The Wrath of Khan
If you’re in a fight to the death with your nemesis and you’re underling says something like, “Hey, we possess a nice ship and a destructive device. We have what we need to get out of exile, so let’s get the hell out of here,” maybe you should, oh I don’t know, listen.
Do not, DO NOT, put your loved ones in a compromising situation, and then when the deadly consequences of said compromising situation unfold, rather than reflect on the poor choices you made, you turn your pain and anger on this other guy. Especially if the other guy is Captain James Tiberius Kirk of the motherfucking Enterprise. In that case, revenge is a dish best served not at all. It’s a dish you send back to the kitchen, because there’s rat poop in it. Even if you are a “superior” being, you can still lose big.
Planet of the Apes (the original)
If you have men on board, they’re your “crew” but if you’re a woman, then you’re “cargo.”
Also, after risking hide and tail to escape your imprisonment, you learn the lesson that all these other movies were trying to teach you all along: that our greatest feats of technology have the power to destroy us, and if we as a species are the makers of our own end, then it will be our own damn fault.