Tuesday, February 05, 2013

Demons Vs Aliens

Someone once made the remark upon seeing some of my work, which was very plainly labelled "demon" and said "They look like aliens to me." To which, I have to admit, I was pretty fucking offended. I didn't say anything, because really what does it matter? At least that I thought at the time, upon further reflection I realize it didn't say anything about me but just about the limited imagination or general ignorance of some people. That might sound a little harsh to some, but to me - being very immersed in this genre of fiction - it's akin to saying "All you (pick your race of humans) all look alike to me!" It's a dumb thing to say, even if it is true I guess in some situations to some people - whoever the hell they are. It's just a case of limited contact as far as I'm concerned.

Partly I wonder if people often realize how offensive their little remarks are? Sure it might seem funny in their head but it comes off as dismissive and belittling to the person who created whatever it might be. To say it reminds them of something superfluous or disgusting or completely unrelated to anyone who actually understands what they're looking at, it's just plain rude. And trying to be funny about (and trust me, that's never successful) doesn't help either, in fact it's slightly worse.

Music, stories, drawings, sculpture, whatever the medium. It's just one of those things a person who creates stuff has to contend with - you either chose to ignore it or get offended...Or you do something about it, no matter who insignificantly you do so - so I'm doing this. Also, you'll notice I've specifically chosen not to use the word "artist" because it makes me cringe sometimes.

So, my main point. Demons Vs Aliens. To me it's night and day. Sometimes there's a bit of blurring and I guess certain cases can be made. I'm going to do both side of the fence on this, just to be diplomatic...or something like that.

Here we go:

When dealing with the basic public perception of Demons and Aliens, pop culture is pretty much what defines it because, let's face it, both are, at this point in our understanding of "everything", are fictional. They don't exist. They're not real. And you won't accidentally hook up with one while out drinking one night (here's the point where someone would make a stupid joke and annoy the hell out of me, probably).

Demons, are generally used in pop culture as forces of evil. That's what we accept because of religion and whoever else uses that word in a negative context - so we use demons as our villains, mostly. Although in more recent years the border between good and evil in terms of demons is becoming blurred. Aliens, same thing. When they first made it to the big screen they were ridiculous looking and most always wanted to kill us all or just mate with our women. So there's a pretty strong similarity there. And when you get right now to it conceptually, what are Demons? Things that aren't human. Aliens? Same thing.

Aliens are usually used to represent the unknown, the unexplored, the potential to learn more about ourselves and blah, blah, blah. And sometimes they're just here to shoot people in the face and wave around their bloody skulls as trophies. Demons aren't as often used as a storytelling tool in this sense, and that's part of what annoys me about all this, but back to my point for now.

Sometimes Demons are presented as having special abilities, like telepathy or super strength, with odd weakness like sunlight. Aliens, same thing only maybe not so keen on water or the common cold. They're often very odd looking, very "not-human", although almost always humanoid in appearance - this is more because of budgets and story points or even laziness, more than anything else though. There have even been instances where Aliens have "possessed" people, much like Demons are usually thought to do.

When you boil all that down, I guess they're virtually indistinguishable. Whose to say in the land of Star Trek, all those "Aliens" aren't really Demons. Cthulhu was from Space after all and I'd hardly refer to him as just an Alien though. There are Aliens from other dimensions, just as there are Demons. So who's to say in the land of Buffy, all those Demons weren't really Aliens? You know who's to say? The people who invented them, that's who.

And that's it. This is something that's always annoyed me, that people feel they can just refer to something as whatever they want because it simply reminds them of something else. I guess you can, but you're wrong. You can't call a Dog a Cat just because you're not familiar with them. Well, you can, but you'd be wrong. A lamp is different from a lump of cheese, that much is obvious. Than why, because something is fictional, do people feel "it doesn't matter" what it's supposed to be? That's what's offensive about it to me, it's not just the dismissive little comments, it's the utter thoughtlessness behind the comment. It's the ignorance of how disrespectful that attitude is to whom it does matter.

Someone pours their energy into something and you come along and say "It looks kinda funny to me. Is he supposed to taking a crap?" or something - that was just an example, I've honestly never heard that. Do you really believe that was the best thing to say? Sure people are entitled to their little opinions, but do we really have to hear them all regardless of how stupid and pointless they are? Is it because people are afraid to admit they don't get it and it just might be slightly over their heads so they find the quickest way of knocking it down a couple notches? Maybe, I don't really think people think even that hard about it, but it's entirely possible.

I've sort of gone off track here and before I just start writing "people are fucking stupid assholes" over and over again, I'll wrap this up in a bit. 

I think to anyone who is part of this "world" as I'll call it, or genre of fiction, be it books or movies or any other format in which Demons and Aliens exist, there's a huge difference between these two things...or creatures? Not sure the best term to use there. Anyway, there's a big difference between them as far as I'm concerned. And perhaps that's because most of what I watched growing up was about 80% horror and sci-fi movies. There's a massive fundamental difference between Demons and Aliens. It might be subtle to some, but it's there. I'm going to use that image from above again here.


Demons: Usually have horns, this is a pretty much the defining quality. Some, most even, have a more "angry" or "darker" tone in their basic expression and overall feel of their design. Part of this is why Buffy was so amusing by times, they took these normally threatening and evil looking beings and gave them very 'human personalities. Demons are more often primitive feeling, they seem more like they come from a small "tribe" rather than a advanced civilization.

Aliens: It's actually hard to point out why something looks more Alien than Demon to me. Overall I think Alien designs tend to be a little more silly and simple. Not to dismiss some great Alien makeups, not by any means, I mean more in comparison to Demons. They more often feel way less menacing than Demons and are usually only defined as Aliens because of various cranial ridges or odd facial markings. Than there's the other end of the spectrum like the Xenomorph of "Alien", that is some very un-Demonic looking to me and very distinctly Alien. Aliens also tend to feel more advanced, use technology and seem to have a strong social structure about them. Those things are a little more ethereal however and not easily identified by everyone I guess.

Maybe I can't really perfectly outline the exact differences, I think it's more of an overall feel which is why some folks don't see it or have a narrow range of visuals and experience to draw from. If it's not human, I think the first instinct is to go with Alien. For me it's just not possible to see the basic difference. Aliens don't look like "monsters" to me, plain and simple.

As I mentioned before, it's also about their context. Aliens in movies and TV shows are more often used as metaphors and ways of allowing us to see the other side of things - and others just want to kill us. Demons aren't as often used that way, although they are becoming more trendy they still use as villains. Vampires and Werewolves might be demons, but they're uninteresting for the most part and used more for fluff story telling to make teenagers with fantasy's of Necrophilia and Bestiality all blubbering and more annoying than usual. Using them died out with the likes of Buffy and Angel, all this crap that followed are sad, dried out imitations. Mostly.

Sci-Fi (the realm of most Aliens) leans towards the "learning a lesson about tolerance" kind of storytelling. Whereas, Horror (the domain of most Demons) is about gore and tits and bloody everywhere. Fantasy...kind of falls in between, however neither Fantasy and Horror are every really considered "great literature". This is my whole angle on Demons though, my take is less blood and gore and T&A and more - what if we were wrong about them and we're all just ignorant, racist assholes? Another time though, for now, what's the difference between these two thing?

Let's try this:
Demon - Alien
 Alien - Demon
 Demon (technically Devil) - Alien

There's a pretty big difference. And this is a very small cross section of what, in my own opinion, of a few images that well represent what sort of creatures qualify as Demons and Aliens. Sure the Predator might somewhat qualify as a Demon in some visual regards, but I just don't see it myself, I only mention it because it does come off as more primitive as I said Demons tend to and they do use  advanced technology and travel in space ships...from space...where Aliens supposedly come from.

I don't have a strong closing to all this, and really, maybe I didn't even have much of a point. Maybe my annoyance stems is from the fact I know longer feel Aliens are interesting anymore? I think the world of Demons has much more interest and possibilities to it from my standpoint as an...ugh, I have to use that word, don't I?...artist. 

Why don't I like that word? Artist. That's another story for another day and one I'm sure will offend the hell out of some folks...but that's too bad, it's just my opinion.

**Also, I don't have permission to use any of these images and if you get mad about it, that's cool, I'll remove them. But honestly, I only used them because they're some awesome images.

2 comments:

  1. Anonymous10:39 PM

    OK... so I have to admit that some of the aliens are kinda demonic looking BUT they aren't demons, dang it all.
    Demons are demons.
    Sheesh.
    Kim B.

    ReplyDelete
  2. I really hope that there can be a movie made about it!

    ReplyDelete