Autism Through Cinema

Under the Skin (2013) dir. Jonathan Glazer

July 9, 2021

A sci-fi film, based on Michel Faber’s novel and set in Glasgow, follows Scarlet Johansson as a nameless alien recently arrived on earth to prey on men and harvest their organs. The discussion considers whether Johansson’s character offers an outsider’s view of neurotypicality that is close to that of autism, looking on at a world of perplexing social rituals of seduction and consumption, or whether a suggested affinity between autism and a character who is alien is problematic. Also debated are the topics of posthumanism, feminist alien abduction of the male species, the film’s ethnographic style of filming ‘humankind’, Glasgow and white working-class culture, compassion between male characters, and the exploration of sexuality and gender as alien concepts.

Discussants: Georgia Kumari Bradburn, Janet Harbord, David Hartley, John-James Laidlow, Alex Widdowson.

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