ONCE upon a time, a space alien landed in New York, and said, to anyone who would listen, “Take me to your leader.”
Think “The Day The Earth Stood Still”. Think “To Serve Man”. Think “V”.
The aliens were hostile. Or perhaps they were kind and misunderstood. One thing is sure: They had a death wish.
Are they a terribly advanced species? They must be; who else could cross the great cosmic chasms? Are they fools? They must be. Who wouldn’t realize that this seemingly simple question works only in worlds where world leadership is certain? Even a little bit of time spent reading our world through monitoring our television broadcasts, a perverse and weird occupation for any advanced species, would let you know better, would teach you more about us.
So it’s a strange request. But they make it anyway. And what can you do? One can’t ignore space aliens on one’s virtual doorstep, no matter how one might try. So most likely, they meet with a leader (or, more specifically, and more accurately, they meet with somebody in charge of something.
This tale then heads somewhere like this: The aliens judge us and find us unworthy, or else—
Humans are conquered.
Humans are eaten.
Humans are mistrustful and join not the Brotherhood of sentients in the Universe.
Ah, sorrow. We wanted to much to prove that we were really, truly ready to join the Great Cosmic Harmoniousness, only to, instead, prove once and for all that we are less than Galactic children (for Children can learn, and sometimes want to learn; and we have neither desire nor inclination, lest we be taken over by rival Humans whose thought patterns drown out our own.)
In the end, all Humans are either gobbled, or left behind. It is a tragedy—if you’re a human; otherwise, it’s a narrow escape (for everything in the Galaxy but us.)
And so it goes.
We use this to comment on how despicable, backwards, and broken Human culture is, how we are not fit to join the Brotherhood of the Universe.
(And BANDERSNATCH; but that’s another tale.)
Let’s be real here.
Any alien who lands in Central Park to make first contact has a strong sense of drama, and untrustworthy intentions. Interstellar travel they’ve got, faster-than-light travel they’ve got, but telephones they ain’t got? They can send a whole ship, but they can’t send a postcard? We’re just supposed to know what to do when they appear out of nowhere?
Where did these beings evolve, such that it’s normal for strange, powerful, unknown things to appear without warning, and not be perceived as threats? Are there no carnivores on their home planets? No volcanoes, seemingly harmless, dormant for years, then suddenly, for all intents and purposes, exploding?
Listen: they come to Earth, they better expect mistrust, missiles, and wildly different definitions of ‘beer’, based on where one lands. Me, I’m a New Yorker. You land in my park with no warning, no explanation, damn right I’m going to steal your tires and write my name on your ship, because either your intentions are very, very sketchy and you deserve worse; or you’re too naïve to survive in this part of the Galaxy, and I feel bad for you. Take it as a lesson. Sorry about the wheels. Let me buy you a pretzel.