Autism Through Cinema

Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1978) dir. Philip Kaufman

March 25, 2022

Our podcast people - namely John-James, Alex and Ethan - tackle the pod people of Philip Kaufman's 1978 sci-fi horror film Invasion of the Body Snatchers. This unnerving tale of alien invasion arose from the anxieties of the 'Red Scare' of the 1950s when Soviet Union communism was the peak existential threat to the American way-of-life. The aliens clone humans in pods and use those clones to lure new victims. It is the strange behaviour of the clones that alerts the heroes to the presence of an invasive force. So, in the context of autism and neurodivergence, we find here a tale of neurological difference where behaviour and social divergence marks people out as 'other'. We toy with the idea that the pod-people are the conformist neurotypicals determined to assimilate everyone into their ideology, but those same aliens could metaphorically stand for the fears of the 'contagion' of neurodivergence. Perhaps the pod-people are thrillingly different? Perhaps they are revolutionaries? We twist and turn around these ideas, before contemplating what a present day version of this timeless tale might look like.

The voices in this episode are Ethan Lyon, Alex Widdowson, and John-James Laidlow.

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