(Culture Snob’s third offering for its own Misunderstood Blog-a-thon.)
I suggested it, jokingly, when I announced the Misunderstood Blog-a-thon:
“Is E.T. really a sophisticated exploration of diaspora?”But the more I think of it, the more it makes sense.
- Like many illegal immigrants, E.T. is strongly encouraged to learn English.
- Like many aliens, E.T. is forced to fit in (with the stuffed toys in the closet).
- E.T. is subjected to stereotypes (that all extraterrestrials are little green men [Yoda]) made all the more insulting because they’re performed by human beings, like white people in blackface.
- In public, E.T. cannot be himself, given a disguise (a children’s costume) to wear so that he doesn’t upset the natives.
- Metaphorically critical, it is a ghost costume, reflecting E.T.’s invisible/neglected status in American culture.
- Denied the typical food and customs of his homeland, E.T. becomes accustomed to an American diet, subsisting on alcohol (beer), junk food (Reese’s Pieces), and television.
- Federal authorities have an interest in E.T. that’s disproportionate to the threat he poses.
- E.T. becomes gravely ill after his relocation to the United States — not unlike Hmong refugees:
“Since 1977 more than a hundred Southeast Asian immigrants in the United States have died from the mysterious disorder known as sudden unexpected nocturnal death syndrome. [...] It is widely held, however, that some type of intense stressor is likely an additional risk factor.”
- Like many foreigners with an unusual appearance, E.T. is credited with magical, dark powers, and strikes fear into white suburbanites.
Help me out here. What else?