Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Lessons from Hollywood

Attention Extraterrestrials reading this blog: Please watch the 2008 remake of the movie entitled “The Day the Earth Stood Still” and don’t do anything the same as the dumb ass aliens in the movie.

I’ve always been a sucker for “The Day the Earth Stood Still”. The 1951 original had plenty of schlocky Hollywood moments, but the overriding premise still holds water: humans are a problematic race of beings that may prove threatening to other civilizations in the universe.

The remake has plenty of bad parts as well, most of which occur as soon as Keanu Reeves starts talking (funny how it always works that way). The first 40 minutes, though, are a reasonably believable look at how humans might handle a threatening First Contact scenario.

The dumb ass aliens in the movie really have no excuse. Apparently they have had agents on our planet for many years and yet they still can’t figure out how to contact us without invoking fear and violent reaction.

The first mistake is approaching planet Earth from outer space without using stealth technology. Any unknown object thought to be barreling towards Earth in a threatening manner is going provoke a massive military response. As silly as the remake can be this seems like a fairly realistic scenario. Secondly, you want to announce yourself with the least amount of technology needed and in the least threatening way possible. Landing a gigantic, glowing sphere in Central Park? Not such a good idea.

I enjoyed how the government officials talk about the poor outcome of First Contact experiences in human history for the less technologically advanced civilization. The portrayal of the apocalyptic reaction from religions to such a threatening First Contact was believable. The American arrogance and government reaction was also quite realistic, albeit a little safer now than for the original, which was a rather brave concept in 1951. The screen writers even throw in worldwide distrust of how Americans handle the First Contact. Hmmm, I wonder why the rest of the world wouldn’t trust us?

And then Keanu starts talking and everything goes downhill.
As ham handed as the rest of the script can be, it does stay true to the original theme: can humanity change for the better in the face of extraordinary circumstances? Can we solve the huge problems of violence, nuclear proliferation, and climate change?

We would all like to think so. Perhaps our major “personality issues” are the reason that extraterrestrials have kept their distance? If so, all we can do is hope for a second chance.

In the meantime, the front end of this film does provide some important ideas for extraterrestrials considering contact with humans. The most critical point is that public perception can be swayed, even on such a large scale. Public Relations is the key to success.

Here are a few PR suggestions:
-Use stealth until you are ready to reveal yourselves. Don’t work people into a panic prematurely.
-Don’t approach us from space, start the hello from here on the ground.
-Use surprise.
-Use speed in process.
-Bypass governments and use the media to say hello.
-Keep the process completely transparent once you have revealed yourselves.
-Keep the process simple.
-Use honesty at each and every step after revelation.

We hope that Hollywood hasn’t scared you away. We are not as silly as the script writers make us out to be. And we are nothing like Keanu Reeves.

Thanks for listening.

First Contact Extraterrestrial Alien Proposal Idea Hello Introduction Space Visitors

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