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Supernatural beings lusting after human women

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I just finished a pretty dumb graphic novel that I got from the library:

It's pretty standard-issue supernatural thriller stuff: giant demon-king wants to take over the world, and needs human hosts to do it. His little goblin-imps can possess people and make them do their bidding. Only four teenagers stand in the way: the geek, the jock, the cheerleader and the outcast, helped by a lady pastor and her giant, silent tough-guy helper.

What struck me was a scene where this invisible demon-imp, watching a high school corridor from atop the lockers, suddenly wants to touch the bottom of the cheerleader character, is overcome by lust for her, and so possesses one of the teachers so he has solid hands to touch her with. Yeah, it's creepy in a bad way. But this demon-imp risks the whole big evil plan just so he can get his hands on a human girl. I mean, this is another species, from another dimension, and still earth girls are hot to him?

It reminded me of all those movies where angels come to earth, and fall in love with human women, and give up immortality in order to love her. What is it with supernatural beings and earth women?? How come there are no stories about female angels giving up immortality to be with earth men?

So; for discussion:

What are some films that line up with this stereotype?

What are some films that break with this stereotype? (I can already think of at least one)

And why is this theme so prevalent in fiction? What is it about earth girls?

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What are some films that line up with this stereotype?

Wings of Desire/ City of Angels

Superman II

And why is this theme so prevalent in fiction? What is it about earth girls?

Earth Girls are Easy

Just ask Jeff Goldblum and Jim Carey.

:)

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What are some films that break with this stereotype? (I can already think of at least one)

The one I was thinking about is Return of the King - in that one, it's a female angel giving up immortality for a human male.

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Backrow Baptist wrote:

: Superman II

In that spirit, we could also nominate The Last Temptation of Christ, although there it is divinity rather than angelicity that is (seemingly) abandoned for the love of a woman.

Then again, what's the difference between an angel and a god, anyway? (Paging Professor Ransom... paging Professor Ransom...)

From a Judeo-Christian point of view, the ur-text for this sort of thing would be Genesis 6, where the "bene ha'elohim" -- variously translated as "the sons of God", "the sons of the gods", "the company of the gods" and so on -- enter into marriage with human women, and these relationships, combined with the heroic demi-gods which are the offspring of these relationships, are one of the main reasons that God decides to send a flood, to wipe out this forbidden mating of heaven and earth.

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Backrow Baptist wrote:

: Superman II

In that spirit, we could also nominate The Last Temptation of Christ, although there it is divinity rather than angelicity that is (seemingly) abandoned for the love of a woman.

Then again, what's the difference between an angel and a god, anyway? (Paging Professor Ransom... paging Professor Ransom...)

From a Judeo-Christian point of view, the ur-text for this sort of thing would be Genesis 6, where the "bene ha'elohim" -- variously translated as "the sons of God", "the sons of the gods", "the company of the gods" and so on -- enter into marriage with human women, and these relationships, combined with the heroic demi-gods which are the offspring of these relationships, are one of the main reasons that God decides to send a flood, to wipe out this forbidden mating of heaven and earth.

To supplement Genesis 6:1-4, I recommend the first book of Enoch, and the section called the Book of Watchers. I think the extra-canonical work falls under the time period of Second Temple Judaism. The writer of Jude was familiar with the first, second, and third book of Enoch, for he alludes to the third.

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Angel?

LOTR 101: Wizards ≈ angels; elves ≈ "chosen people"

I was speaking thematically, not literally. I understand the taxonomy of Middle Earth...

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And why is this theme so prevalent in fiction? What is it about earth girls?

To be fair...it's been prevalent since the earliest days of mythology. The Greek gods were not human. But boy did they chase the humans. I think it makes more sense in the "spiritual thriller" story than in the sci-fi stories. Especially with a demon that is probably driven by general lusts and desires and seeks to satiate them.

In fiction, generally speaking (not in the example you cite), the idea of the non-human desiring a human plays more for the metaphors of the lengths people go for "love". It's also a metaphor for the inter-racial relationship.

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Prophecy 2 and Prophecy 3 both have plot lines revolving around angels mating with humans.

Also, Angels in the Outfield shows angels giving baseball players massages. That is semi-erotic activity. :)

Lets not forget The Bishop's Wife and later The Preacher's Wife. Cary Grant and Denzel Washington as far too frisky angels in my book.

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Let's not forget the "sons of god" and the Nephilim in Genesis 6.

FWIW, it's not just "supernatural" beings per se. Human women are hot to many non-human species, e.g., King Kong (and others have already pointed to alien connections). On a related note, John Byrne once pointed out in his run on She-Hulk that many alien races in pulp fantasy have women who are babes while the men "look like something you scrape off the bottom of your shoe" (paraphrased from memory).

LOTR 101: Wizards ≈ angels; elves ≈ "chosen people"

Um. Let's not get too rigid here. The most basic taxonomical distinction in Middle-earth, even more so than original/unfallen species and corrupt/fallen species, is between mortal and immortal races. Elves and wizards are immortal, Ents, men, dwarves and hobbits are mortal. Elves, with wizards, certainly qualify as "supernatural beings" in a way that the mortal races do not.

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I'm not sure if the definition of supernatural for this thread applies to vampires, but it seems to me that the downfall in most vampire films (from Nosferatu to Keanu Reev... uh Francis Ford Coppola's Brams Stoker's Dracula) is the lust or wanting of human women. I know that vampires were once human, but are described as supernatural once they cross over into the realm of the undead. Near Dark reverses the norm, by having a female vampire's attraction for a human male lead to the downfall of her clan.

Also, does Emperor Tod Spengo's (jon Lovitz) lust for human Marge Nelson (Teri Garr) in Mom and Dad Save the World count here?

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Michael Todd wrote:

: To supplement Genesis 6:1-4, I recommend the first book of Enoch, and the section called the Book of Watchers. I think the extra-canonical work falls under the time period of Second Temple Judaism. The writer of Jude was familiar with the first, second, and third book of Enoch, for he alludes to the third.

FWIW, I'm not familiar with these books myself, but your reference to Enoch reminds me that Philip Pullman's 'His Dark Materials' trilogy includes a depiction of Enoch as a former human who has since become an angel, and an evil angel at that; and if memory serves, his downfall ultimately comes about because he longs to feel a woman's flesh again.

SDG wrote:

: Let's not forget the "sons of god" and the Nephilim in Genesis 6.

We didn't. ;)

: On a related note, John Byrne once pointed out in his run on She-Hulk that many alien races in pulp fantasy have women who are babes while the men "look like something you scrape off the bottom of your shoe" (paraphrased from memory).

Hmmm, reminds me of Disney's depiction of the "Red Man" (and, uh, "red woman", I guess) in Peter Pan. Tiger Lily may be kinda sexy, but her dad ... ugh.

FWIW, I think the male-angel-fallling-for-female-human motif may be driven to some degree by a tendency in some quarters to see women as sexual and physical and men as spiritual and cerebral. But in cases where, e.g., someone like Arwen gives up immortality for someone like Aragorn, the tendency may be to see women as exalted and ethereal and men as physical and brutish (and I don't mean that last word as a criticism; I'm just acknowledging that warfare tends to be men's work, not women's, in places like Middle-Earth, exceptional cases such as Eowyn notwithstanding).

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: Let's not forget the "sons of god" and the Nephilim in Genesis 6.

We didn't. ;)

Darn it, I scanned on both "sons of god" and "Nephilim," figuring that any mention would be sure to use one of those phrases -- and somehow you avoided them both. I knew I should have checked "Genesis 6" too....

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Darn it, I scanned on both "sons of god" and "Nephilim," figuring that any mention would be sure to use one of those phrases -- and somehow you avoided them both. I knew I should have checked "Genesis 6" too....

Hmmm ...

From a Judeo-Christian point of view, the ur-text for this sort of thing would be Genesis 6, where the "bene ha'elohim" -- variously translated as "the sons of God", "the sons of the gods", "the company of the gods" and so on -- enter into marriage with human women, and these relationships, combined with the heroic demi-gods which are the offspring of these relationships, are one of the main reasons that God decides to send a flood, to wipe out this forbidden mating of heaven and earth.

Would the capitalization have made the difference, I wonder? The punctuation, maybe? (Serious questions. Search engines puzzle me sometimes.)

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In Starman, the alien guy falls for the human woman, but I can't remember if he gives up his life voluntarily or not. Anyone remember?

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In Starman, the alien guy falls for the human woman, but I can't remember if he gives up his life voluntarily or not. Anyone remember?

He's really a sort of alien intelligence temporarily animating the recreated body of Karen Allen's husband, so his time on earth is limited by--something or other--the fact that his alien essence is incompatible with human DNA? Anyway, he doesn't actually die, just returns to the mother ship/planet while a giant flashing light points out that the character's a Christ-figure.

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And then there's Hancock, which offers its own special twist on the subject. If you were smart and stopped watching halfway through the movie, the twist is that Will Smith and Charlize Theron are immortals of some kind or another, and at one time there was a whole race of these immortals all over the world, but they end up pairing off together eventually, which makes them mortal for some reason. Smith and Theron were the last two holdouts.

To paraphrase Dave Barry, I promise I'm not making that up.

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Seriously , no mention of Jabba the Hut and Princess Leia on this thread yet? Granted it could be argued that she too is an alien (to us at least) but still.

I think a lot of it is to do with projecting our (men's) baser lusts. The angels in Wings of Desire (and City of Angles) aren't really lusting so much as falling in love, so arguably that's a different scenario. But in terms of demons/gross aliens I think it's the feeling that somehow that lust is sub-human, grotesque, and so occasionally it gets projected onto non-human and grotesque characters.

Matt

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Nice thoughts, Matt.

It reminds me of the stories of the philandering of Jupiter/Zeus, who just could not keep his hands off of good looking women, despite being married to a stunningly beautiful goddess. Except he's not grotesque, so the qualities of lust that are being projected onto his behavior are more: intensity, irresistibility, fantasy.

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David Smedberg wrote:

: It reminds me of the stories of the philandering of Jupiter/Zeus, who just could not keep his hands off of good looking women . . .

Or boys, in the case of Ganymede at least.

: . . . despite being married to a stunningly beautiful goddess.

And when he's hot for his wife, he brags to her about all the other women he's bedded, and how much more desirable she is! (I forget which passage in The Iliad this is, but it's in there somewhere.)

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There is a lot of talk about this in literature on the growth of sci-fi. Often, the depiction of alien/supernatural being sexual relationships became a way to critique race relations in the US. A white man coming to love a purple female with three breasts and an eye stalk would have been accepted as an off-kilter civil rights metaphor. Assuredly, this then became a pulp staple for those knock-off sci-fi romance novels. I still remember that pre-pubescent frisson of being vaguely attracted to a stacked blue or orange female on a worn paperback cover in a used bookstore.

But then, I can't think of any alien male/female examples from that era, which I think can be accounted for on the basis of Matt's "projection" theory. Any glance at a shelf of anime magazines in a Tokyo dimestore is pretty convincing that direction.

On the whole Enoch thing: In Enoch and related literature, the basis of demon/nephilim/angel attraction to human females is related to their unique physical status of having been formed according to "God's image." We anthropomorphize angelic beings far more than Hebrew Scripture or Christian apocalyptic literature does, so it can be hard to wrap our heads around this. But the female form was quite simply like nothing else that had been created by God (as well as this new thing God invented for humans called "sex"), and some commentators go so far as to muse about this in their explanations of the head covering passage in 1 Corinthians 11.

There is also a very sexualized female angelic/demonic being named Lilith that is often an inverse of the Nephilim saga. Her tradition varies widely in Judaism, but in at least one strand, she predates Eve both as a human and angelic being involved with sex.

Edited by MLeary

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MLeary wrote:

: But the female form was quite simply like nothing else that had been created by God (as well as this new thing God invented for humans called "sex"), and some commentators go so far as to muse about this in their explanations of the head covering passage in 1 Corinthians 11.

Fascinating!

: There is also a very sexualized female angelic/demonic being named Lilith that is often an inverse of the Nephilim saga. Her tradition varies widely in Judaism, but in at least one strand, she predates Eve both as a human and angelic being involved with sex.

If memory serves, she is supposed to be the wife that Adam had in Genesis 1 before Eve was created in Genesis 2, yes? I have also heard it speculated that she might have been related somehow to the dark presence that almost killed Moses on his journey back to Egypt (on that occasion when Jochebed called Moses "a bridegroom of blood").

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If memory serves, she is supposed to be the wife that Adam had in Genesis 1 before Eve was created in Genesis 2, yes? I have also heard it speculated that she might have been related somehow to the dark presence that almost killed Moses on his journey back to Egypt (on that occasion when Jochebed called Moses "a bridegroom of blood").

She is that wife, yes. I think Talmud says somewhere that two angels were sent to kill Moses, one male and one female. Perhaps some Talmudic commentators associate the female with Lilith, but the female angel is typically taken as something more generic, like a spirit of anger or destruction. God was an equal opportunity employer: hitman and hitwoman.

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I am wondering though, in a case like, say Superman...the "different species" thing is ... debatable. I mean, technically, he is an alien...but for all intents and puproses looks exactly likeus...so his being attracted to the women of earth really does not seem so strange...you could even apply that to the angels most often represented in films...when the creature in question can pass for human...is mutual attraction really unlikely?

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