Sunday, April 22, 2018

#SciFiSunday: Alien vs. Predator's Alexa Woods Is One Of The Most Radical Final Girls Ever


"Last One Standing: Alien vs. Predator"
pgs. 45-67
in Where No Black Woman Has Gone Before: Subversive Portrayals in Speculative Film and TV
written by Diana Adesola Mafe

AVP: Alien vs. Predator (2004) dir. Paul W.S. Anderson

Synopsis: When a wealthy man seeks the expertise of a team of scientists and mercenaries after receiving a signal from an island just north of Antarctica, they uncover ritual and artifacts that are centries old, held by two alien species set on terminating their plans, and one team member who forms an unlikely, survivalist alliance.

Thesis: The film's "black female hero...immediately complicates notions of authoritative white patriarchy, black monstrosity, and abject femininity" by not fitting the distinctive molds of the Final Girl or monstrous Other as addressed in the non-white, non-male coded alien and predator. However, Alexa is a Black woman, while not a monster, aligns herself with one of these heavily coded stereotypical depictions of Blackness and womanhood to defeat the other, a defeat that suggests battling the stereotypes ("savage, primeval, hyperfertile, maternal") depicted in their monstrous manner and much more. Alien vs. Predator "challenges, interrupts, complicates, and subverts hierarchal identity categories and dichotomies."

Mafe finely details plot points of the entire film and their connections with the films in both franchises, noting with emphasis how Alexa stands out and enriches the plot compared to central characters in the franchise films that have been white men and a woman, as well as a Black man.

Concepts/Terms:

Final Girl

"Her Body, Himself: Gender in the Slasher Film" by Carol J. Clover

Monstrous-feminine

"Horror and the monstrous-feminine: An imaginary objection" by Barbara Creed

Alexa "Lex" Woods (Sanaa Lathan)


- Is initially opposed to and wins against "white patriarchal capitalism" (Weyland Industries) with her pairing with one of the Predators by surviving

- Prioritizes "coalition, communication, and circumspection" and 'rejects patriarchal authority' that is inherently faulty within the film

- Alexa and the Predator both occupy a space as a racialized and gendered Other


"Lex, a black woman, is 'matter out of place' because she 'doesn't symbolically belong' in SF action thriller or a Lovecraftian horror tale, genres that prioritize white male subjectivity and heroism. If she disrupts these patterns of representation by her mere presence, then she surely implodes them by being the hero."

Discussion Questions:

How is racially and gender coding non-humans (monsters) in the Alien and Predator franchises discussed in this chapter? What features do they possess that signify race and gender?

How does Mafe position Alexa Woods as an intersectional opponent in Alien vs. Predator? How are the lines of protagonist and antagonist blurred?

What does Mafe note as "'explanations' for female heroism" and how does Alexa refute those in the film? How does that create an even more radical approach to women in genre films?

In what ways does Alexa complicate the Final Girl trope?
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