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January 11, 2009 7:48 PM   Subscribe

AlienFilter: Small clarification about this Ridley Scott classic (spolier alert, but only if you've lived under a rock for the past thirty years).

While watching this again for the umpteenth time, I got to wondering: exactly how was Ash trying to kill Ripley? By that I mean, how was making Ripley eat a rolled up magazine going to kill her?
posted by Max McCarty to Media & Arts (12 answers total)
My impression was that he was trying to cut off her airway somehow. It sounded like she was choking. Alternatively since he was a crazy robot he might have been trying to stab it into her brain through her mouth.
posted by ChrisHartley at 7:54 PM on January 11, 2009

We are meant to think the magazine was rolled tightly enough that she would suffocate.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 7:54 PM on January 11, 2009

Mrs. Beese and I agree that he (it?) was trying to suffocate her.

But the A2s always were a bit twitchy.
posted by Joe Beese at 7:58 PM on January 11, 2009 [8 favorites]

Remember that even though you breathe through the nose, the airway passage connects through the mouth.

So why not just put a pillow over her head or some such? Consider the sexual subtext of the aliens and what rolled up newspaper shoved down a woman's throat could be considered similar to.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 8:05 PM on January 11, 2009 [4 favorites]

I always figured he was trying to ram it down her throat. Phallic symbolism and all that (it was a rolled-up pornographic magazine after all, and then there's the shape of the alien's head, and also the only other chick on board got ripped apart only after the alien snuggled up behind her and put its tail between her legs, and also Giger). Or, yeah, suffocation.
posted by turgid dahlia at 8:06 PM on January 11, 2009 [1 favorite]

Yeesh. I actually pulled out the director's commentary on the Quadrology to check this, and I'm ridiculously happy I did - it's hilarious. It's at about 1:20 on the Director's Cut

Sigourney Weaver got a call from Ridley Scott, saying that he had a great idea for the Ash Attacks scene: "Oh come on downstairs, it's going to be great - Ash is going to pick up this sex magazine and he's going to stick it up your hooter!"

Not knowing cockney, nor being entirely sure of where exactly her hooter would be, she asked Ridley what the hell:

In the commentary, Ridley explains that he thought it was more interesting to imagine sophisticated robots as having sexual urges, asked the actor playing Ash how he felt about displaying a sexual drive and to play the scene as if had always wanted to rape, lacked the opportunity and lacked the equipment.

So yup: Ridley Scott confirms that rolled-up sex mag=penis!
posted by grippycat at 8:58 PM on January 11, 2009 [2 favorites]

I definitely read it as phallic and rapey. That aside, how did he actually mean to kill her?

I didn't read it as suffocation. I always just figured that Ash was fucking crazy and was simply trying to cause massive trauma... that he was going to keep on ramming it down her throat until she'd sustained so much damage to her esophagus and trachea that she'd drown in her own blood or whatever. If she suffocated in the process, well, that's fine, but ultimately he didn't really have a plan so much as rage.
posted by Netzapper at 10:18 PM on January 11, 2009

Grippycat is right.

Also of note: the milky fluid that spews out of Ash is actually supposed to be the milk that Ash drank in previous scenes....not some sort of android fluid. nor semen, since it was forced-coitus interruptus.
posted by Brainy at 11:58 PM on January 11, 2009

Brainy is wrong.

The white stuff Ash spews is Android Blood(tm), as evidenced by the gallons and gallons of white ooze that comes out of every other damaged Android in the series (fingers cut, torsos torn in two, etc).
posted by Dunwitty at 1:03 AM on January 12, 2009 [1 favorite]

Since the main question has been pretty well settled, permit me a slight tangent...

While Ash is waiting for the scouting party to reach the alien vessel, he quickly runs in place for about two seconds. Since it comes right after he's blown on his hands, you're supposed to think that he's trying to warm himself up in an underheated area of the ship. But since 1) he's a goddam robot! 2) even in a film filled with unexpected, unexplained bits of business, this one is particularly apropos-of-nothing, and 3) his knowing glance when Kane begins having extreme indigestion implies that Mother let him in on the plot ahead of time: Is it possible that he's really trying to work off nervous excitement as they approach a critical moment of the caper?
posted by Joe Beese at 5:29 AM on January 12, 2009

Most machines have optimal operating temperatures. If its creators wanted it to pass for human, they would most likely engineer it to run optimally at a temperature similar to that of a human body.

However an android moves its appendages, it would likely generate waste heat just as our own muscles do when we use them to move. Running in place would make just as much sense for such a hypothetical android as it does for us when we're cold. It would have the added bonus of increasing the android's chances of passing for human if said behavior was observed by any nearby humans.
posted by Thoughtcrime at 11:17 AM on January 12, 2009

Dunwitty, I know it ended up being blood based on the rest of the series, but Ridley intended for it to be milk. Cameron just assumed it was AndroidBlood and made it so.
posted by Brainy at 8:03 AM on January 14, 2009

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