An Alien’s Guide To Getting By On Earth

As I Am Number Four hits screens, we advise any extraterrestrial visitors

by Helen O'Hara |
Published on

It’s not easy, being green. Or grey. Or sort of reptilian-looking. Or slimy, or telepathic, or a giant robot. Or even Alex Pettyfer with lights coming out of his hands. So if you’re an alien visitor to Earth, allow us to present you with a few handy hints on fitting in around here. After all, with Paul out just over a week ago and I Am Number Four out this week, it’s clearly time to examine the difficult issue of alien integration. So whether your name is Klaatu, Barada or Nikto, read on for your guide to getting the most out of your Earth visit…

As seen in:* E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial / Paul / Mac And Me / Explorers / My Stepmother Is An Alien / Earth Girls Are Easy / The Day The Earth Stood Still*

The strategy**:** If you’re a stranger in a strange town, it’s important to forge links with the locals. This is particularly the case if you’ve been left behind by your survey mission teammates and lack so much as a credit card or toothbrush. But fear not! Most Earth towns contain at least one single-parent family which includes a lonely kid who’s so desperate for a friend that they’re willing to consider one with extra pairs of eyes, weirdo telepathic abilities or a face like an old sock. Once you’ve won over your pint-size pal, he or she can act as your emissary to the adult world, supplying you with equipment or transport to work out that voyage home. Or if that fails, you can use their life-force to sustain you through difficult times.

Possible pitfalls: The bond-with-a-child gambit is generally effective, eventually winning over accompanying adults too, but only for aliens that are cute, naive and undersexed. If you’re feeling more like feeling up the locals, go for the My Stepmother Is An Alien route and romance the single parents, or follow Paul's example and find some almost-equally immature buddies. Otherwise it’s a bit creepy, dude.

As seen in:* Transformers / Species / Invasion of the Body Snatchers / The Thing / Earth Girls Are Easy / Men In Black / Predator / Meet Dave*

The strategy: Can you shapeshift or otherwise pass for human? Then you’re quids in! After all, what humanity doesn’t know can’t hurt it, or you, and while you might want to be out-and-proud as a carnivorous and voracious shapeshifter, there’s a time and a place. So shapeshift into something more appealing, shave off that coloured fur or hide inside a human carcass. If looking human being is beyond your abilities, disguising yourself as man’s best canine friend or a large vehicle can do just as well. Do pay attention to detail: if you have three toes, like The Brother From Another Planet, equip yourself with shoes post-haste. Equally, if you’re an emotionless body snatcher, consider mimicking some of humanity’s trademark laughs or responses. It will pay off long-term. If you’re not terribly adept at disguise, follow Predator’s example: a) head for less populated areas and b) invest in invisibility.

Possible pitfalls:** **You’re going to have to keep that masquerade going indefinitely, because if at any point the people around you twig that you’re actually a vicious killing machine / giant robot, you’ll find yourself on the wrong end of an RPG. This is true even if you’re a deadly sex-alien disguised as a supermodel-type nympho. Sorry, Natasha Henstridge.

As seen in:* Coneheads *

The strategy:** **OK, yes, your disguise has to be good – but what if it isn’t? What if you have a head like the Gherkin? Well, just go with it. You can still forge a perfectly respectable middle-class life and be one of the more popular girls in school. You can even go to prom and interact with your neighbours, and *no one will ever notice *that, well, your bonce looks like a windsock. The trick is to claim that you’re from France. Any amount of weird behaviour will be accepted at face value in that case. Everyone knows those Gauls are crazy.

Possible pitfalls:** **The INS, or equivalent, could quietly ruin your life of quiet mediocrity if they ever come a-callin’, looking for evidence that you are (gasp!) illegal aliens. Yes, turns out that the INS isn’t just after innocent hard-working Mexicans. They’ll go for pointy-headed pseudo-French extraterrestrials too.

***As seen in: ***Howard the Duck / Cocoon / Batteries Not Included

The strategy:** **Here’s a thought: you’re an alien. You probably have unusual abilities, comparative to the Earth population, whether that’s a way with electrical wiring or anti-aging vibes or “Quack Fu”. So why not use those for the betterment of mankind? You could save Lea Thompson from a mugging, or some OAPs from the grave, or a crumbling tenement building from demolition. This has the happy side-effect of getting humanity (or at least a portion of it) on your side to boot, and it’s always nice to have friends.

Possible pitfalls:** **Make sure you’re not over-matched by whatever you take on. There’s nothing worse than getting people’s hopes up and then getting yourself shot while you try to foil that robbery, or ending up *not *stopping those pesky developers. That would be a total bummer, even if you are adorable little flying saucer thingies.

As seen in:* Superman / Transformers / The Day The Earth Stood Still*

The strategy:** **Nothing will endear you to the inhabitants of this third rock from the sun like saving us all from some sort of catastrophe – especially if said catastrophe is not of your making. After all, Superman’s one of the most recognisable figures in the world despite not, strictly speaking, actually existing, and all he does is fly about catching people who were fooling around in high places. Equally, all Optimus Prime and the Autobots had to do was defeat a couple of menaces to our very existence to land them in a cushty US government protection programme – so just find a world-threatening force (global warming, say, or Rupert Murdoch) and deal with that.

Possible pitfalls:** **If you bring said threat with you – like the Decepticons, say, or General Zorg – it’s only a matter of time before some bright spark finds a way to blame you for the whole crisis in the first place.

As seen in:* The Man Who Fell To Earth / Race To Witch Mountain / The Day The Earth Stood Still / E.T. / Paul*

The strategy:** **Man, these Earthlings can be a tough bunch, and none more so than their government agents. Chances are that if you do show up on The Man’s radar, the government will have you strapped to a table and autopsied quicker than you can say, “Argh! Get that scalpel away from me you freak!”. Or, in David Bowie’s case, they’ll turn you into an alcoholic TV addict, a fate which may not be worse than death, but which doesn’t do much for your home planet’s chronic water shortages. For every Agent Mulder, all in touch with his extraterrestrial side, there are a hundred trigger-happy suit jockeys just dying to shoot first and pick up your blue-blooded corpse later, so be careful!

Possible pitfalls:** **There may come a time when you *have *to trust the authorities in order to get out of jail / home / back to your ship before it goes nuclear. If this happens, weigh up your options carefully. If The Man comes with your childish buddy in tow and has clearly developed romantic feelings for said child’s mother, you’re probably OK.

As seen in:__Men In Black

The strategy:** **Everyone needs a helping hand from time to time, and in general the Men In Black in Barry Sonnefeld’s films are there to ensure that everything goes smoothly during your Earth trip. They’ll fix the memory of anyone who sees you sans disguise, provide material assistance in case of medical emergencies and settle any disputes with other races that you might encounter. And as if that weren’t enough, they’ll look good doing it. It’s the tailoring, we think, or maybe the sunglasses.

Possible pitfalls: Do take a careful look at what Will Smith is wearing, and be quite sure that it’s a black suit before you approach. If you accidentally bump into Will Smith in Independence Day-mode, he *will *punch you in the face by way of a welcome to Earth, and might possibly deliver a computer virus/nuke one-two that will destroy your entire civilisation in a flimsy deus-ex-machina ending. So maybe watch out for that.

As seen in:* Battlefield Earth / Mars Attacks / Invasion of the Body Snatchers / War of the Worlds*

The strategy:** **Can’t get along with the locals? No problem: with your superior technology / weaponry / numbers / sneakiness, you can just displace us as the planet’s dominant species! Seriously, our weapons are very 21st century: we haven’t developed a single working ray gun (that we know of), nor issued portable death lasers to everyone. We’re a sitting duck! So land in force, dare us to use our nukes (which will no doubt prove ineffective against you guys, and just result in higher human casualties) and you can pretty much stroll into the rubble that used to be the White House.

Possible pitfalls:** **There’s always one. Whether it’s Barry Pepper, Slim Whitman’s Indian Love Call or the common cold, we’ll find a way to get back at you eventually. OK, so the Body Snatchers managed to take over, a couple of times, but the rest of you Scientology-loving, dreadlocked Martian barstools can naff off right back where you came from.

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