Bottoms From Outer Space — Anal Anxiety at the Movies

Independence Day

by Mark Simpson

(Originally appeared in Attitude, September, 1996)

You might think me obsessed with men’s bot­toms. And you’d be right. But if you want to know what a real bot­tom obses­sion looks like, one that makes my own heavy breath­ing look pos­it­ively flir­ta­tious, just visit the movies.

Take the Summer block­buster Independence Day. Here’s a film so fix­ated on bum­holes that it can’t see any­thing but bum­holes. Bumholes so big and special-effected that they threaten to swal­low up the whole world. Literally.

In this start­lingly excre­mental (fig­ur­at­ively as well as lit­er­ally) movie, American civil­isa­tion is dwarfed by vast, round alien arse­holes which sau­cily posti­tion them­selves over the biggest, proudest, poin­ti­est build­ings in New York, LA., Washington etc. After twenty-four hours of teas­ingly hov­er­ing above these phal­lic monu­ments, they open up their sphinc­ters to dump a stream of shit-from-hell which first demol­ishes the sky­scraper below and then engulfs, des­troys and gen­er­ally wreaks havoc on the nicely ordered American met­ro­polis beneath it. That’s some bottom.

In case we’ve missed the point, the gung-ho US pilots who attempt a counter-attack talk a great deal about how they can’t wait ‘to give it to those ali­ens up the ass!’ However, they fail to pen­et­rate the ali­ens’ defences with their hot, hi-tech rock­ets — even the nuclear-tipped babies — because the cheeky Pushy Controlling Bottom ali­ens have a force-field hymen pro­tect­ing them from such unwanted attentions.

Fortunately, Jeff Goldblum’s wily jew­ish­ness saves the day and mankind’s repu­ta­tion as fuck­ers not to be fucked with, by craft­ily work­ing out that what is needed to lower the ali­ens’ defences is a virus. Jeff infects one of the smal­ler alien ves­sels and thence the mother ves­sel by ‘dock­ing’ with it, and soon the virus is trans­mit­ted to all the alien ships, whose force-fields/immune sys­tems collapse.

This allows Randy Quaid, play­ing a kamikize love-missile, to fly up the sphinc­ter of an alien ves­sel open­ing to crap destruc­tion on a city below, while shout­ing ‘ALIEN ASSHOLES!! UP YOURS!!’, before explod­ing and des­troy­ing the alien ship, help­fully show­ing the rest of the Earth forces ‘Where the ali­ens’ weak-spot is.’ That is to say: in the same place as men’s.

You can’t get more botty-fixated than this. Except, that is, in last year’s Sci-Fi block­buster Stargate. This film, made by the same team as Independence Day, fea­tured basic­ally the same explos­ive anal end­ing in which an alien desert des­pot is des­troyed by an American bomb which is sent shoot­ing up the arse­hole of his space-craft by Kurt Russell (who is much the same thing as Randy Quaid), shortly after Kurt has uttered the only explet­ive in this 15 Certificate movie — ‘FUCK YOU, ASSHOLE!!’.

Men’s bot­toms are offi­cially meant only to allow one-way traffic, any remind­ers that it can admit as well as expel tend to make men uneasy — unless they can be pro­jec­ted onto some­thing hated. Stargate was a movie which begins with the dis­cov­ery of a huge ‘ring’ in the Egyptian desert which turns out to be a ‘portal’ to other worlds — which is fine and dandy. But it is also a point of entry to our own — which isn’t. So com­mander Kurt and his men are dis­patched to plug that hole good and proper and pro­tect Earth Men’s virtue.

As film star Mel Gibson made clear in an infam­ous inter­view where he was asked about whether he wor­ried that people might think he was a homo­sexual because he was an actor, the pos­sib­il­ity of two-way traffic in the region of your own pos­terior must be denied. Pointing to his not unin­vit­ing arse he allegedly shouted: ‘This is for shit­ting; noth­ing else!’ All the same, it’s just a little odd that his hard, manly, hairy per­form­ance of Scottishness in ‘Braveheart’ against the soft, smooth, nancy-boy English reached its cli­max in a scene where he was pub­lic­ally dis­em­bowelled by the Sassenachs without so much as blinking.

Invasion, enslave­ment and defeat have long been seen as analag­ous to anal rape — a form of emas­cu­la­tion. Recent rev­el­a­tions about the sexual-humiliation prac­tises of vic­tori­ous troops in the Bosnian con­flict on their male pris­on­ers have only rein­forced this idea. Perhaps this is why in Independence Day Randy Quaid, the man who finally ‘gives it to the ali­ens up the ass’ on behalf of all Earth men is an alco­holic ex-Vietnam vet who, we’re told, years ago was abduc­ted by the ali­ens and sub­jec­ted to ‘sexual experiments’.

The end­ing of Stargate also owed some­thing to recent American his­tory: A T-shirt pop­u­lar with US forces dur­ing the Gulf War, depic­ted Saddam Hussein — that other scary des­pot the yanks lib­er­ated desert people from — bent over with an American mis­sile up his butt and the legend beneath it read­ing: “WERE GONNA SADDAMIZE YA!’

The dir­ect rep­res­ent­a­tion of male viol­a­tion, like con­sent­ing male homo­sexu­al­ity itself, used to be a taboo; in the Seventies the play ‘Romans in Britain’ was pro­sec­uted for inde­cency because it fea­tured a sim­u­lated male rape scene (defen­ded, inter­est­ingly, as being ‘a meta­phor for imper­i­al­ism’). John Boorman’s film Deliverance (1972) was con­sidered ‘con­tro­ver­sial’ because it hin­ted rather heav­ily at male-male sexual assault. Nowadays, how­ever, in the arsehole-anxious nineties, male rape scenes are prac­tic­ally de rigueur in main­stream movies, pop­ping up (and being held down) in films such as Pulp Fiction (1994) and The Shawshank Redemption (1994), while, as we’ve seen, the theme of forced, venge­ful pos­terior pen­et­ra­tion has even become the stuff of sci­ence fic­tion movies ostens­ibly aimed at kids.

This might just have some­thing to do with the rising vis­ib­il­ity of homo­sexu­al­ity and the increas­ing fas­cin­a­tion with male passiv­ity — along with the ines­cap­able fact that, no mat­ter how many ali­ens the guys blow away at the movies (and in Stargate and Independence Day sav­ing the world is strictly a guy thing) they still keep los­ing the sex war with the ali­ens they live with. Females.

So, without want­ing to come over all Vito Russo, it’s prob­ably no coin­cid­ence that the Stargate alien is played by Jaye Davidson who also played the tricky tranny in The Crying Game (1992), is sur­roun­ded by mus­cu­lar young men in leather, and flies about in a space­ship that likes to sit on pointy pyr­am­ids. Nor is it without sig­ni­fic­ance that in Independence Day, Harvey Fierstein, play­ing as usual an extremely annoy­ing gay con­stantly on the phone to his mother (“Oh, mother, it’s AWFUL, the ali­ens are get­ting MORE ATTENTION than ME!”) is the first char­ac­ter to be killed by the alien attack. Eliminating early on (but not early enough for my money) the only Earthling who will­ingly takes it up the ass.

Hollywood sci­ence fic­tion these days is not so much about man’s fear of inva­sion from outer space as that of the inva­sion of man’s inner space. As Kevin McCarthy shouts to the free­way traffic in the clas­sic 50s sci-fi para­noia flick Invasion of the Body Snatchers — ‘They’re here already!’

Standing right behind you.

This essay is col­lec­ted in ‘Sex Terror: Erotic Misadventures in Pop Culture