This essay is from the book Predator: a Memoir, in which I watch the 1987 movie Predator over and over for several years, looking through it as a lens at lots of other subjects. The film is notable in part for the way in which we get to see from the point of view of the alien, a rarity in 1980s action films or science fiction films for that matter. This essay is one of a series in the book in which the Predator looks at us and sees things we may not.
– Ander Monson
Something in you must be pursued so we pursue. We are like you in this way; you too chase and hound your prey; you summon us with likeness. We like your softness. In the event that you kill one of us another will appear. It’s like Highlander. It’s like Buffy the Vampire Slayer. It’s like zombies or theories of martyrdom or terrorism. The kingdom always has more room. If there are two or more of us on your planet you know something has gone bad wrong.
Between our visits you proliferate. You kill each other with aplomb. Don’t you know by now there is no honor in a bomb? We would kill those of you who prey on you. We would thin your ranks as you fill your tanks at Chevron stations listening to Alt Nation on the radio beamed down from space and try to forget about the past. Have you forgotten that what we learned we learned from you and from the habits of your dads?
We float like moths around your disbelief. It’s not a love of light that draws us here but misdirected instinct, wet and pink and waving. What is the meaning of being lonely, your Backstreet Boys ask—but do not answer—on the radio. Monette says you all have souls, and that we can’t understand, and what we cannot understand we have to try to kill. You seem to need to do the same.
When we hold your skull in hand what is it we hold? Have you ever held a spine and raised it to the skies and felt your life had changed or someday could? What am I supposed to feel when I perform this rite? Is it what I see gleaming in the songs of the Backstreet Boys? I spent weeks in your back streets in the second film waiting for my moment as your city burned. There I waited for the Boys but encountered none. There were only men, and I killed the men who interested me. On another visit to Los Angeles I watched the Boys go onstage and found them lip syncing songs to a sea of swaying, underdressed meat. The heat of all of you assembled was intense to watch, almost too much to bear.
Why do you go to see a fake group sing? What knowledge could it bring? Camouflaged on a catwalk above the stage I watched their pantomime proceed. It went on for some time. Though accustomed to waiting for my prey to move I soon grew confused. I wondered: if they want it that way, which way is that? What do you want from us? Is it like prayer? If you pressed a gun into the leader’s hand and hunted him how would he be transformed?
I don’t long for the day when you are gone. Without you there is only me and I can’t bear to be alone.
Ander Monson’s most recent books are I Will Take the Answer and The Gnome Stories, both forthcoming from Graywolf in 2020. He edits the magazine DIAGRAM, among other projects, and teaches at the University of Arizona.