The Gremlins films are ultimately about fear of the other, and the consequences of the erosion of universal rights/citizenship. The Gremlins understand language, humor, art, friendship - yet we cheer on as they are microwaved, ran over, electrocuted, melted into green sludge, etc
You may ask: should human rights apply to little non-human monsters? Perhaps the reason we are so quick to accept the film's framing, and the Gremlins status as disposable, is because human rights no longer even fully apply to humans, let alone the antagonistic Gremlins.
As Hannah Arendt observed in 1943, being merely a human being is no longer enough, "since passports or birth certificates, and sometimes even tax receipts, are no longer formal papers but matters of social distinction." Rights do not flow from basic humanity but from legal status
The same argument is elaborated in this essay, "On Post-Fascism", about how the erosion of the enlightenment idea of universal citizenship is the common connecting thread between the horrors of the 20th century and the world today.
The Gremlins demonstrate the same capacities that make humans uniquely human, and thus deserving of basic dignity and rights. But perhaps the reason why we are so willing to accept their demise is because they run contrary to the enlightenment's other tendency - classification.
Clamp Tower, the setting of Gremlins 2, is the epitome of this tendency. Employees are classified by barcodes they wear on their lapels, and put under surveillance 24/7. Clamp Tower is a workplace, shopping center, public forum - but most of all it resembles a prison.
By destroying Clamp Center, the Gremlins reclaim a level of freedom and autonomy the human characters could not. But by rejecting this apparatus of classification and domination, they put themselves outside of it, and thus beyond the basic qualifications for having rights.
Gremlins 2 is a cautionary tale, and a challenge. What really separates the Gremlin from the human? To view the film is to be complicit in this cruelty: we accept the framing that makes their massacre permissible, if not celebrated.
You can follow @G2Institute.
Tip: mention @twtextapp on a Twitter thread with the keyword “unroll” to get a link to it.

Latest Threads Unrolled: