you know what happens if you don’t check your reader feeds over a long weekend? you get to the computer on tuesday morning and google reader is there ahead of you, shrieking about how it has “1000+” stories and you must do something, right away, to fix this horrible situation.
it’s terrible to be guilt-tripped by one’s rss feeds.
still, had i not done some in-depth sifting through the day, i would not have found a long-term meme from arbogast’s eponymous arbogast on film
blog which i just can’t resist: who would you save?
in case you’re feeling lazy today and don’t want to be bothered with all that clicking, i’ll summarize: what doomed character from a horror movie would you save, assuming that you could?
i’ve clicked through some of the old entries to see who other people have chosen; i’m a fan of stacie ponder (aka final girl)’s choice
and while i don’t know either of the movies in the kindertrauma
post, i always enjoy seeing what aunt john and unkle lancifer have to say.
and then i realised i might have a problem in choice of character. there is, of course, the eternal question of who to pick — there are so many options, really. while i was pondering, i saw that someone in comments on stacie’s post had mentioned frank from 28 days later who is a totally great choice — but i wouldn’t save him. adore brendan gleeson; love the character; still willing to let him go down to the rage virus. he has to, or the end of the movie would go “phut.” there’s robert carlyle’s don from 28 weeks later — but is he really worth saving? he’s a pretty unsympathetic character, given that he abandons his wife to the infected. there’s officer cybil bennett in silent hill — i never understand why rose can’t show up two minutes earlier and save her from being a charcoal briquette. and what about carolyn fry in pitch black? another fine turn from radha mitchell — but if she’s saved, what does that mean for riddick?
so instead, i started worrying about whether or not the movies i wanted to pick my character from were really “horror” movies or not
. and then i decided not to worry about it because, honestly, who cares? the labels are pretty arbitrary after a certain point and i figure a film franchise that spans 20 years and really starts its ball rolling with an alien embryo bursting its way through a well-respected british actor’s chest, thus totally ruining his plans for later that afternoon, has pretty much got
to be horror.
as eddie izzard said, “good. i’m glad you’re all coming with me on that.”
so who would i save?
hands down, i would rescue poor old newt from aliens and, briefly, alien3.
i watched through the whole alien series with my father some summer during high school. we’d watch the movies my mom didn’t want to see while she was out teaching. the list pretty much included anything seriously gory or “not nice” — the parameters for this stretch from night of the living dead to nightmare before christmas, just to give you an idea of the depth of field here.
alien is the best of the series; the more times i watch it, the more convinced i become of this. alien: resurrection is, arguably, the worst (although i have a serious soft spot for ron perlman and for brad dourif as the creepy doctor who gets deservedly destroyed) and, if you’re going to extend to the avp series films, then avp: requiem just blows resurrection right out of the water for sheer awful. aliens is a lot of fun as a sequel, although it loses most of the serious scare factor that makes the first so great. instead of seeing next to nothing of the alien, you pretty much see it all the time — which makes it much less frightening, thus the need to ramp up to the alien queen. not that the alien queen isn’t spiffy-on-a-stick because she is. the staring contest between ripley and the queen is one of my all-time favorite sequences; i love ripley’s head-tilt that, without words, manages to convey a whole world of “oh. you fucked up right there.”
but newt. i nearly wrote ‘poor old newt’ again except she isn’t which is what makes her so cool. she survives — she is the only survivor of the whole damned base on LV 426.
let me just say that again: this barely pre-adolescent kid is the only survivor.
she makes it for weeks on her own, having to scavenge what she needs without the luxury of weapons, armor, or anything other than her own observations of the aliens to tell her what, where, or when she might be safe. her family is killed around her; her friends are gone; the people who were meant to keep her safe are gone. if this isn’t the secret nightmare of every little kid — and, hell, a whole lot of adults, too — then i don’t know what is. the people who are supposed to keep you safe can’t. there is something so ghastly and awful out there that the grown-ups can’t help. no-one is there to help you; nowhere is safe. does everyone need a teddy bear and a hug now?
but newt survives. and doesn’t go insane. these have got to be major accomplishments under the circumstances.
what has she learned? quiet is good. dark is good. under is good. small, hidden, and quick is good. of course, the marines with ripley pretty much universally ignore every lesson they could have learned from the kid. even ripley doesn’t take her as seriously as she might, being rather more preoccupied with her own survivor trauma, burke, and hicks.
but newt continues to survive. she doesn’t anticipate that the marines will be able to help — she even tells ripley that their arrival won’t change anything. she doesn’t depend on them; she doesn’t immediately become a whimpery ball of needy kid insisting on having her hand held. she pretty much demands autonomy and a certain amount of respect. and she is clearly making decisions between which adults she is willing to trust (ripley, hicks) and which she thinks are less useful (hudson, burke). and she really only freaks out when directly confronted with a facehugger she isn’t in a position to escape. even then, she doesn’t lose it entirely: she keeps fighting it and keeps it pinned until hudson can kill it. even when captured by an alien drone and taken back for implantation, she keeps fighting, struggling to break free from the hardened goo web even as the facehugger is crawling out towards her.
this is a damn kickass little kid.
and so instead of getting to watch such an awesome little kid through the third movie — newt is killed in the name of isolating ripley again. in fact, pretty much everyone sympathetic in the third movie is killed as soon as they stop being directly antagonistic to ripley. makes for damn unsatisfactory character development.
worse, newt isn’t even given the (marginal) dignity of an on-screen death. no, she and hicks (who i’d probably save second or third) are killed off-screen; we’re only told about their deaths in a sketchy partial flashback over the opening credits. her corpse gets a role as ripley forces herself to examine the body for signs of alien infection — but that’s it. so long, fighting kid who outlasted a whole building-ful of aliens — it was nice to know you!
what a rotten exit.
so, yes, out of all the possibilities, i’m picking rebecca “newt” jordan.