A video clip of the Captain Kirk’s Starship Enterprise watching the Cyrus perform at the MTV Video Music Awards surfaced on the web last year. It went like this.
What comes to mind after watching this is that if aliens exist, this is what they’re seeing too. Semi-naked earthlings prancing around, pretending to be copulating amidst other earthlings, who seem to be getting excited by the spectacle, while yet more earthlings dressed in suits that resemble furry creatures are jumping around them.
Here’s to hoping they like that. By ‘like’ I mean maybe they’ll find something appealing and worthwhile in it that doesn’t land us in their zoos.
Or maybe they won’t.
Their conversation would probably go something like this.
‘Show me this planet’s highest-ratings spectacles. I want to see what tickles their fancy.’
‘Here they are, Commander.’
They play back the Cyrus show.
‘I see… Anything else?’
They play back footage from Easter mass at the Vatican and from the pilgrimage to Mecca, plus footage from football matches during the World Cup, plus coverage from the yearly leagues around the world, plus archives from the two World Wars. And a clip from Cameron’s Titanic.
‘Interesting. On the one hand we have a planet filled with oversexualized apes that get turned on by watching themselves dance around fire and lights, grabbing their crotches and other intimate parts. Over here there’s a big bunch of them getting ecstatic over a game that involves running around a ball and kicking it.
‘And what do we have here? A vast array of people who venerate words from books written more than thirty generations ago, the instructions of which they follow word for word — or are pretending to, to be more exact, because when they go home, many of them violate the rules by being tempted by the other ones, the ones who prance around the lights, and by the ones who like kicking a ball around.
‘And here they’re just killing each other with fury. I don’t understand. I thought they were mindless pleasure seekers and devoted believers. They’re partial to killing too?
‘And here — what’s this? A story about a ship going down?’
‘It’s a love story, Commander. One of the most popular tales in their recent history.’
‘I see. So these people almost destroy the entire planet with their antics, games, and wars, but cry at the sight of a romantic relationship being torn to pieces aboard a sinking ship?’
‘Sounds to me like they know their situation very well. Fire at will! Blow this damn place to pieces and notify the mining crews to come in after us.’
‘But, Sire, this is a green planet! One of the rare Floating Gardens in this sector. We must preserve it.’
‘I know, Henchman, but it’s infested with these creatures. I don’t have time to figure out how to exterminate them without damaging the surroundings.’
‘Commander, if I may… let’s take a moment and examine them, shall we? They may make for a fine food source.’
‘Food! These ridiculous pests?’
‘Appearances can be deceiving, Sire. They may be very tasty or nutritious. If they’re not, we’ll process them into a pulp and use them as supplements. If they’re vile, we can always feed them to our livestock. And if they’re utterly inedible, we’ll sell them to the Zoos and Production Agencies. Look at how entertaining they are, almost as precious as the natives of Sorima 3. Most important of all, we get to keep the Garden.’
‘You have a point, Henchman. Set up intel, arrange for a reconnaissance operation, and call for an Infiltration Conglomerate. And a Production Agency. I want their reaction to be recorded. They’ve been waiting for an Apocalypse all their lives, and, by Fate, they have it!’
Now, maybe I’m a sick, sick puppy, but I find nothing irrational with the above dialog. If I were an alien looking down on earth, glimpsing at our customs and spectacles, I wouldn’t be impressed with us either. I wouldn’t want to make contact with us or spend time studying and researching us. Maybe I’d be slightly more curious — ok, very curious — if I were an alien zoologist (let’s face it folks, their anthropologists would be zoologists as far as they were concerned) but knowing how the story went for the people of the Americas, Australia and Africa, I wouldn’t keep my hopes up even if they did send in their top psychologists. Everyone knows how indigenous people get treated if they’re not able to stand face to face with their visitors and hold their ground should the shit hit the fan. They get taken over and subjugated. They get owned. They have to find out the hard way that their way of life is inferior. Yes, yes, in theory every form of life is fascinating and precious, and no one has the right to take it or judge it, but in practise, when asked to stand its own against its challengers, if it doesn’t hold up it gets crushed, and the survivors have to adapt to a new way of life.
That’s what I mean by inferior, and that’s what we are in comparison to any visitors from space. They’d be looking down on us, on our blue planet, which they’d see as a planet full of animals — animals with rights as precious as the ones we grant the animals around us i.e. worthless rights. They may very well glare at us as if we were a peculiar, apelike life form, which spends its time dancing around fires and lights and black boxes in the desert, kicking balls and crying over someone who got nailed on a cross many years ago, whose creed his believers claim to worship but hardly follow. We are animals very easily tempted by the bright lights in our cities and on our TV screens, and who, in public, among strangers, or at home, in private, adore watching stories of ourselves killing ourselves and loving ourselves and performing strange feats in the face of adversity that remind us how great we are, how awesome our way of life is, how our limitations and shortcomings are awesome too, because it’s awesome to be human and to feel the vast array of emotions we feel, striving for love, connection perfection, redemption, challenging ourselves in ways that make us feel good about ourselves… how pathetic it must all seem from the point of view of an outsider looking in, wondering whether to snuff us like cockroaches, study us like ants, cage us like chimps, or trade us like slaves, maybe even train us to become less human and more alien, more like them, if possible — just like we did, and still do, with everyone we come across, with all those whose way of life we consider — and prove to be — less apt, less knowledgable, and less enduring than ours.
Outrage! you say? We don’t do that anymore?
One, thank you for acknowledging that we used to do it i.e. how apishly brutish our way of life was — and, two, we still do it on an everyday basis. We do it with our kids, whom we teach how to let go of their immature impulses in order to grow up and enter a complex and dangerous world.
You thought I was going to say that we do it with ‘minorities,’ or ‘poor countries,’ right? Suckers! It’s too obvious and it would be like cheating, but thank yourself for scoring another point for the article.
Best case scenario, an alien life form might see us as children — life forms that haven’t yet understood how things work, how to stop messing around and get things done. They might want to teach us how to keep a proper household (Earth), how to minimize violence and manage disputes in a proper way (Geopolitics and Economics), how to step out of the household and make a life for ourselves (beyond Earth) just like they did, a statement they can drive home by simply being here, pointing at their spaceships, reminding us how they galloped across the universe while we were busy getting excited over Triple Retina screens and talking fridges and cinnamon-flavored condoms, and the latest edict from our top cleric, and pizza, and Tinder, telling us how to do things in turn, if we’d only shut up and listen. They’d remind us to stop waiting for others to save us (religion) and assume our responsibilities and grow up, because their intervention was a fluke. It just doesn’t work that way normally. Plus there’s a bunch of bad aliens out there, who aren’t so friendly, and who will rape Earth till it’s dead and cold if they ever come across it. So better get cracking, shall we?
It’s either that or the pest, zoo or slave treatments. End of options.
And that, my dear friends, is the final word on the human condition when looked at from an alien perspective.
Bet you’re now wishing people hadn’t made football, religion and sexualized entertainment the planet’s ambassadors. Best thing of all, there’s nothing you can do to change it. The system will crack and fall, and things will finally move forward, as they should, carried by the ones who will succeed you, leaving behind a nice set of bedtime stories for their children.
From the collection of writings EON: THE ANGRY COMING OF AGE
As a bonus, here’s the premise, from which the piece grew:
When trying to understand a large group of living creatures, be they human, animal, or bacterial, you need to examine what they tend to do as a group, in their majority. These recorded ‘customs’ will determine in what ways you can further study them, become familiar with them, and even relate to them, if possible.
Now flip this around and imagine there’s someone observing life on earth.
Fact: the most watched music videos are Miley Cyrus doing the twerk, Psy’s Gangnam style, and Justin Bieber with Ludacris.
Fact: the most popular cultural activities are the Hajj Pilgrimage and the congregation of Christians during the Holy Week.
Fact: the most popular sports activity is football, which involves a bunch of guys running around and kicking a ball.
Fact: WWII is a top hit in the history archives, plus there’s scores of footage on how the entire world went head to head, and would be watched by anyone trying to understand us.
These are the ambassadors of humanity. These are what an observer would see and study when coming across us for the first time.
Do you feel adequately represented?
From the collection of writings EON: THE ANGRY COMING OF AGE