Aliens ★★★★★

When I was an agoraphobic psychotic 13 year old in 1987, my most prized possession was a VHS tape I had made myself by recording David Cronenberg's The Fly and Aliens off of HBO. I watched those movies over and over. I barely went to school that fall. I had not finished the end of 7th Grade because incarcerated in a for-profit psychiatric hospital for children, let out to go to an academic summer program, which was a bad idea because crazy, was kicked out, moved with my parents' dying marriage to a Marine Corps air base in South Carolina, and proceeded to not go to 8th Grade. Instead I watched horror movies on cable and the ones my mom would let me get from the video store. I watched The Fly and Aliens the most. In 1986, I had gone from being a Reaganite to being a kid who claimed to be a Marxist (which I sort of was?) who didn't salute the flag or stand up for the pledge of allergens due to the Iran-Contra Scandal and the bombing of Libya. That our government was selling drugs and guns to finance an army of death squads in Central America blew my mind and shook my understanding of the world. Aliens helped frame my understanding of privatized off-the-books military expeditions where the aim is extermination and terror and everyone on the business end of the spear is expendable. I realize now that when Fox News calls the Islamic State "a nest of scorpions" or Ted Cruz says we have to bomb the Middle East until the sand glows, that they didn't learn the same things from Aliens that I did, and I would be shocked if Ted Cruz had never seen this movie. I owe much of my abilities to get through truly adverse situations to horror movies in general, but also Ellen Ripley in particular. She was my 80's Action Icon, and she survived on adrenaline, fear and necessity. She helped me have a will to live in the face of nightmares. I will always love and watch and rewatch Aliens, no matter what, until I am insensate or felled by life as one day we all shall be.

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