Industrial Paranoia


leading from



Mother's Revelation
The corporation in the film is revealed to be even more than the alien, the villain of the film, It's top priority becomes the alien and it couldn't care less about the danger that this causes the crew. The mother computer shows itself to be very unhelpful towards the Captain Dallas and then Lt. Ripley when they ask it questions, and it eventually informs Ripley that the Nostromo has been "rerouted to new co-ordinates to investigate the life form" and "gather specimen",  "insure return of organism for analysis", "all other considerations secondary" and "crew expendable". It is only here that Ash the science officer turns up behind her without explanation in the computer room, and is found looking over Ripley's shoulder as she goes through company records, and he suddenly goes all peculiar on Sigourney as he tells her "I can explain everything" and Ripley realises that he is not what he seemed to be


The Company's Cynical attitude 
The Mother computer shows the cynical attitude that a multi-national corporation might face given the situation of the discovery of an alien and indeed it's the industrial-government complex is responsible for the attitude that allows such an alien to be brought on board the Nostromo.

Ridley thought in hindsight that Earth would have previously received messages, realised they were coming from an intelligent source, but for economy reasons, perhaps have postponed the preparation of an investigatory spacecraft. 

Then one day Nostromo is in the vicinity and the order is given for the crew to bring back the alien, good or evil, without any real thought given to the consequences. And so they thought that the presence of a robot virtually guarantees in principle the success of the mission.


Future predictions from 1979
 

Back in 1979 when the film was made, the assumption was that in fifty years time, it would be likely that the world would be converted into the property or two or three large conglomerates whose sources of energy are provided by the exploitation of deposits in space. The super cargo spaceships that link Earth and the planets would transport enormous loads of minerals - gas, oil and the like.

Robot myths 
To dissuade the crews from rebelling and to protect their own interests, these companies might place spies aboard, or at least would make the crews believe in the presence of such spies. Gradually a legend would evolve that these people, whose identities remain unknown, are in fact robots. Furthermore, nobody would ever have proof. This would reinforce legends already currently among astronauts. In fact, it is already responsible for the paranoia prevalent on all the ships because of its insistence on placing a company man/ corporate suit that was in effect a spy, aboard each vehicle. Gradually a legend would be evolving that these people, whose identities remain unknown, are in facts robots. No one would have ever have proof and this would only reinforce the legend amongst the space craft crews. And so in this vehicle, The Nostromo, indeed the spy takes the form of a robot that is also humanoid.



Protecting their interests 
This would seem to be the normal development of a huge corporations trying to protect its interests. In this particular future. Corporations with have to find ways to assure that vehicles carrying minerals or vital information will not be hijacked, it would be very easy for "pirating" to exist, perhaps the crew themselves might even decide to go off and sell the cargo  to somebody, and therefore the Company have their own security blanket as part of the crew.


The company's response to the alien  
Ridley thought in hindsight that Earth would have previously received messages , realised they were coming from an intelligent source, but for economy reasons, perhaps have postponed the preparation of an investigatory spacecraft. Then one day Nostromo is in the vicinity and the order is given for the crew to bring back the alien, good or evil, without any real thought given to the consequences. And so they thought that the presence of a robot virtually guarantees in principle the success of the mission.


source quotes

i) Danny Peary: I see the corporation, even more than the alien, as being the villain of the film. It's top priority becomes the alien, and it could care less about the danger that this causes the crew. 

Ridley Scott: This industrial-government complex is responsible for the attitude that allows such an alien to be brought  on board the Nostromo. In fact, it is already responsible for the paranoia prevalent on all the ships because of its insistence on placing a company man on each vehicle. In this vehicle, he takes the form of a robot, Ash. This would seem to be the normal development of a huge corporation trying to protect its interests. In this particular future, it would be very easy for "pirating" to exist. Corporations will have to find ways to assure that vehicles carrying minerals or vital information will not be hijacked.  ("Omni Screen Flights, Screen Fantasies", an interview with Ridley Scott by Danny Peary p295-296)


ii) Interviewer: Could you explain the rather enigmatic attitude of "Mother", the ship's computer when faced with the discovery of the alien?

Ridley Scott: We try not to give a detailed explanation in order to preserve the suspense and in order not to stray from the main theme. Mother's behaviour shows the cynical attitude that a multi-national of the future might take, faced with a similar situation. Let's assume that, in fifty years time, the world has been converted into the property of two or three large conglomerates, whose sources of energy are provided by the exploitation of deposits in space. The super cargo spaceships that link Earth and the planets would transport enormous loads of minerals - gas, oil and the like. To dissuade the crews from rebelling and to protect their own interests, these companies might place spies aboard, or at least would make the crews believe in the presence of such spies. Gradually a legend would evolve that these people, whose identities remain unknown , are in fact robots. Furthermore, nobody would ever have proof. This would reinforce legends already currently among astronauts

Interviewer: Had "Mother" foreseen from the start that the Nostromo would meet the alien?

Ridley Scott: Again , this is only a supposition made in hindsight. I would have thought that Earth would have previously received messages, realised they were coming from an intelligent source but, for economy reasons, perhaps have postponed the preparation of an investigatory spacecraft. Then, one day, Nostromo is in the vicinity and the order is given for the crew to bring back the alien, good or evil, without any real thought being given to the consequences. The presence of the robot virtually guarantees, in principle, the success of the mission. ("duelling with death", Magazine Source yes to be identified)

iii) Ridley Scott: The Ash thing was interesting was Ash was implant of the corporation, having a robot on board, so instead of just having a spy, you've got a biomechanoid human being

Sigourney Weaver: It's a very modern idea (Alien Quadrilogy commentry)


iv) Ridley Scott: Ash was the real master stroke, I think, in that he as completely, that was a one off wasn't it, that was the first time, you know, you have corporate paranoia, right, than in there you've got a corporate suit on the ship. The difference is that the suit is a robot is a humanoid, so when Ash suddenly became peculiar, he goes peculiar on Sigourney, and erm, he says, "I can explain everything", he's over the shoulder in Mothers womb, and erm, she's suddenly spooked by him, realises he's not what he seems to be.
 (Shepperton Studios 1978 documentary (The Making of Alien ) )

v) Ridley Scott: So now we're probably trying to work out all... you know, you don't have to explain it that craft, has, have droids on board, you know big corporations... maybe the rumour has always been from the big corporations do out of paranoia for their own investment of their huge craft from the cargo and their knowledge always plant a spy within the crew on board just in case they, the crew decide to go off and sell it somebody and therefore they always have their own security blanket as part of the crew and he of course is one, I think that was ano... a really nice idea, a new idea which ugh, then gets used again, again, again, again, you know (Alien Quadrilogy commentary at 1:23:51 and BluRay version at 1:23:46 )

vi) Ridley Scott: Always this scene is peculiar because you wonder how Ash got in behind her. So now she has a block. She's not going to get any more information, and uh, she's dipping into basically company records and is not going to get the right answer. So this is where you get the duplicity of the company that has protection on all of its ships, and this is what I thought was really a great original idea, would plant a humanoid or robot to protect its interests, which is about to be revealed, and there, there he is. (Alien 20th Anniversary DVD director's commentary)

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