Brett: This is the worst shit I've ever seen, man. (Alien)
Barbara Creed’s analysis of Alien is largely convincing, if to take gender as a sole lenses for analysis. Although, gender (and sexuality) in psychoanalytic theory might be a privileged site for exploring human psyche and social organization, in this case it overlooks psychological anxieties such as technology, which might or might not be related to gender. Alien, articulates gendered anxieties, but it also clearly reflects modern fear and fascination with technology. Technology is always seen as simultaneously progressive and destructive. It promises emancipation and possible transgression of human (bodily) limits, but also generates fears of losing control over technology which then results in loss of humanity itself. Alien could be seen as articulation of these tensions.
Although the film puts female protagonist at the center and challenges phallic symbolic order, it does not significantly challenge the social order. Ripley still remains white and educated person with a position of authority within the ship. The portrayal of black and lower-class workers does not go beyond stereotypes and powerlessness associated with those positions. They serve only to portray self-interest and primitive materiality in light of higher existential questions and mental reasoning.
Finally, Creed’s analysis of archaic mother and prephallic state does not necessarily allow to significantly move away from essentialism of identity politics. While challenging patriarchal symbolic order it simultaneously reinscribes sex binary on which psychoanalysis is based. Science fiction films have a potential to challenge traditional representational practices, which Alien does only moderately – behind the excess of monster shock and horror social identities remain sadly familiar.