Alien Invasion!

I’m currently researching the various alien invasion films of the Cold War era and their role in serving as a replication of Cold War political anxieties and social disorder. My topic directly stems back to Cold War containment culture and the utilization of pop culture as a means to indirectly examine national discourse.

There are numerous perspectives and analyses of these alien invasion films. One prevailing belief is that alien invaders represent the possibility of Soviet invasion; given Cold War tensions, the possibility of nuclear war made this scenario all the more terrifying. This idea of direct invasion is also coupled with the invasion of Communism in the minds of Americans, as shown in various mind control-esque films. A different analysis stems from xenophobia of the era and the fear of individuals from the developing and third world immigrating to the United States; oftentimes, these films presented friendly aliens who seek to coexist with Americans, but are often driven out due to American aggression and lack of tolerance. This leads to another interpretation of these films: a critique of the militaristic state and violence of the United States; films that contain this idea feature the United States as the antagonist due to their aggression against friendly invaders, causing viewers to redefine who the “real dangerous aliens” are. Finally, alien invasion films often serve as an examination of social anxieties and contain relevant topics like gender roles, masculinity, familial and racial tensions, and conformity. In my RBA, I am possibly interested in exploring the negative effects of alien invasion films on viewers of the era in generating hysteria; while these films often served to critique the 1950s American way of life rather than create fear, I’m interested in researching the misconstrued interpretations of these films as a result of Cold War anxieties.


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