Mars Attacks! and the 50/90 double satire

one of the source of inspiration for Burton’s Mars Attacks! is Ed Wood’s b-movie “Plan 9 from Outer Space”

whether inadvertently or purposely, Mars Attacks manages to satirize “Independence Day”.

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4 Responses to “Mars Attacks! and the 50/90 double satire”

  1. To start off simply, one common similarity between the two movies is that in both, more so in “Mars Attacks”, is the absurd notion of the of the ‘weak spot’ for such a strong entity and how underlying easy it had been to take them down. In both films, it displays that the “other”, even though dooming and unstoppable, essentially has a very specific way “or weapon” of taking them down.

    In “Independence Day”, it was found that missiles (or objects) had to be launched into a little opening in the center of the enemy spaceship. While in “Mars Attacks”, a certain… “genre” of music destroys the overpowering brains of the Martians. However, in “Mars Attacks”, it pokes fun at the science-fiction genre at this very idea: that something so big, so almighty, and so powerful, can be simply destroy through one little factor. This has been a perennial factor throughout the SciFi genre, whether it has been dealing with aliens, monsters, robots, etc.

    In addition, what else I found quite interesting was the irony in the films with this similarity. In both “Mars Attacks” and “Independence Day”, it was the ‘hillbilly’ character who either found out or ultimately was the hero in the end for destroying the “other”. However, what makes this ironic is the idea that this “hillbilly”, who had always been considered as the “other” for humanity–the idea that these kind of people were the outcasts, the odd, the dumbwits of society and that it took an “other” to beat an “other”.

  2. I haven’t seen Independence Day and watching that trailer, I can’t say that I really care to, either. It looks like a rather stereotypical invasion movie, if slightly more focused on the human experience (that is, attempting to portray the strength of humanity as opposed to the fear and horror). And at this point in time, it’s fairly outdated for me.

    But even in that trailer alone I could see how Mars Attacks! would appear to satirize the movie. Like I said before, it seems like a stereotypical invasion movie. And Mars Attacks! certainly satirized most other invasion movies I can think of.

    The one detail that I suppose I appreciated most about Mars Attacks! was that most of the characters could have been considered “other” in their own way – the young hero at the end is a virtual outcast even amongst his family just as the president’s daughter is, not to mention Barbara. The fact that they act most heroically out of everyone is ironic commentary in and of itself…

  3. Catherine Mustard Says:

    I noticed that Mars Attacks mocks American patriotism and and self-importance. The presidential family is presented as strange and silly. The First Lady is obessed with being photographed and the President is merely a firgurehead who’s only role is to please the public, not make important decisions. When the President is confronted with the alien leader he attempts to make a moving speech pleading for cooperation, but in the end the aliens just make a joke out of the president’s death and erect a flag on his dead body. Not only is the president and his family mocked, but also important American icons such as the peace tower and Mount Rushmore. The peace tower is used to crush people by an alien ship and Mount Rushmore is changed to depict alien faces.

    Patriotism and American self importance are a key element of Independence Day. The president gives a moving speech to the people of the world where he says that Independence Day will no longer be recognised as only the day of American Independence but also a day where the whole world joined together to gain independence from alien tyranny. The importance of an American day of patriotism will thus be applied to the whole world. I find it interesting that Mars Attacks manages to take such a key element from Indepedence Day and satirize it.

  4. Sheldon Ludwig Says:

    No matter what invasion film you look at, Mars Attacks! will seem to have a satirical aspect against it, whether it be with its generic themes, the repetitive music, or the over the top character portrayals. Even if Tim Burton knew nothing of Independence Day, Mar Attacks! still would have appeared to be a satire of the film because all invasion films follow the similar format, which we learned in class, such as the invasion, the fear/curiosity aspect, the clash/war, and then humans finally winning somehow.

    There is always this sense of ‘not being alone’ in the universe, and alien invasion films will constantly play off of this. This is because the idea of ‘not being alone’ creates a feeling of curiosity. By creating this curiosity, any movie gives itself two aspects. The first aspect is that it gives the director unlimited creativity with the creation of a film. And the second aspect is that curiosity creates a fear of the ‘unknown’. This fear keeps the audience entertained and the profits rolling in. Fear of the ‘unknown’ can also spread knowledge and show the impact of working together as a nation. For example, in the 1950, there was the fear of the Cold War, which was a common threat, and the movies tried to portray what could potentially happen to us from nuclear war. Space invasion movies also are used to portray common threats, and in turn many movies will appear the same in many aspects. It’s hard to avoid.

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