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Resisting Governmental Illegalisation: Xenophobia and Otherness in Steven Spielberg’s E. T.: The Extra-Terrestrial


Mühlheim, Martin (2014). Resisting Governmental Illegalisation: Xenophobia and Otherness in Steven Spielberg’s E. T.: The Extra-Terrestrial. In: Bashir, Hassan; Roye, Susmita. Experiencing Otherness: Multidisciplinary Perspectives. Oxford: Inter-Disciplinary, 1-10.

Abstract

The depiction of Otherness in E. T.: The Extra-Terrestrial has provoked a wide range of critical responses – including fervid denouncements of the film’s racial politics. William Alexander, for instance, contends that beneath the humane surface of Spielberg’s film there lurks a deeply racist fantasy which naturalizes difference in order to justify the idea that any dark-skinned Other must be sent back to where it came from. This paper takes issue with such unequivocally negative readings, for far from naturalizing – and thereby depicting as inevitable – the illegalised alien’s incompatibility with the new environment, Spielberg’s film in fact highlights that it is hostile government action, combined with E. T.’s lack of viable communal support, that threatens the alien’s survival – and indeed, as the film makes clear, the average citizen’s home as well.

Abstract

The depiction of Otherness in E. T.: The Extra-Terrestrial has provoked a wide range of critical responses – including fervid denouncements of the film’s racial politics. William Alexander, for instance, contends that beneath the humane surface of Spielberg’s film there lurks a deeply racist fantasy which naturalizes difference in order to justify the idea that any dark-skinned Other must be sent back to where it came from. This paper takes issue with such unequivocally negative readings, for far from naturalizing – and thereby depicting as inevitable – the illegalised alien’s incompatibility with the new environment, Spielberg’s film in fact highlights that it is hostile government action, combined with E. T.’s lack of viable communal support, that threatens the alien’s survival – and indeed, as the film makes clear, the average citizen’s home as well.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Book Section, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:06 Faculty of Arts > English Department
Dewey Decimal Classification:820 English & Old English literatures
Uncontrolled Keywords:Racism, migration, community, home, ethics, film, aliens, resistance, othering, uncanny, defamiliarisation
Language:English
Date:2014
Deposited On:06 Aug 2015 13:57
Last Modified:05 Apr 2016 17:45
Publisher:Inter-Disciplinary
ISBN:978-1-84888-379-5
Related URLs:http://www.inter-disciplinary.net/publishing/product/experiencing-otherness-multidisciplinary-perspectives/ (Publisher)

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