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The Spectacle of the Alien/Migrant An exploration through Hollywood Science fiction and Horror Movies before and after 9/11


  • Jonathan Cardenas

Summary, in English

This thesis aims at addressing the question of the representation of the Other within current dominant visual media. The Other, in the context of this thesis, refers to any minority community group identified as different from a certain dominant norm; depending on the context it could correspond to groups such as Women, Afro-Americans or Arabs. Here the group concerned will be the migrant, who have been occupying the media and political spheres for a few decades now. The intention is to observe and discuss the representation of the migrant through a specific medium: Hollywood cinema and two of its most popular genres: science fiction and horror. The central idea of this work is to consider the alien, the creature, the monster as a possible allegory of the migrant or of immigration in general and to observe how it is represented through the narrative. How has this figure been shaped and especially what evolution has it taken after the events of September 11 2001 which profoundly changed and influenced the vision of the migrant Other in the United States politically and socially? This study will be structured around the analysis of three films (Alien Nation [1988], Coneheads [1993], Men In Black [1997]) before 9/11 and three others (District 9 [2009], Transformers [2007], World War Z [2013]) after this pivotal date in order to examine and analyse both commonalities but also differences between the two periods. The initial hypothesis is to find a negative global representation of the alien/migrant in those films in both periods with the difference being that post 9/11 narratives would include increased negativity in the representation of the migrant Other and less ambiguity by insisting much more on its danger and the distrust that humans must have towards this figure. The hypothesises were correct. The analyses clearly demonstrated quite a general negative representation of the Other migrant. Also as hypothesised, the films after 9/11 took on a more stereotyping, less nuanced, terrorism-tainted portrayal of the Other migrant, a character not to be trusted and that would always in one way or another cause problems for humanity. The ambition of this research is to show the importance of paying attention to the work of representation in mass media, the primary source for the fabrication of our beliefs and identities today, in my opinion. A medium as popular as Hollywood cinema, even through its non realistic genre, represents a dominant power apparatus capable of reinforcing or nuancing previously established perceptions about certain categories of people in our world. As this topic of media representation is increasingly discussed around us today, it is important here to see how this system of representation of the Other works and how it has possibly evolved over the past three decades.


Publishing year




Document type

Student publication for Master's degree (two years)


  • Cultural Sciences


  • science-fiction
  • horror
  • blockbuster
  • representation
  • alien
  • the other
  • myth
  • immigration
  • migrant
  • Hollywood
  • orientalism


  • Lars Gustaf Andersson (Professor)