Study Guide

Gremlins Foreignness and the Other

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Foreignness and the Other

RAND: Are these things real?

KID: I told you. Everything's real.

Rand is a guy who made an electronic chicken to crack eggs, yet he thinks the stuff in this shop is weird or fake? How rude.

MR. FUTTERMAN: These goddamn foreign cars, they always freeze up on you. You don't find American machinery doing that. Our stuff can take anything. See that plow? Fifteen years old. Hasn't given me a day's trouble in fifteen years.

Mr. Futterman is a little xenophobic, yes, but his anti-foreign vehicle commentary is dripping with both irony and foreshadowing. Mr. Futterman gets run over by his own American plow when it's taken over by gremlins.

PETE: Hey, look, that one's got a cute little stripe on its head.

Pete's the youngest character in the movie, and youngsters are generally more accepting of foreignness and change. Pete thinks Stripe's adorable… until it bites him. Maybe these foreign creatures are dangerous after all.

DAD: I bet every kid in America would like one of these. They might even replace the dog as the family pet. Think about it, the Peltzer Pet. This could really be the big one.

Rand envisions a world where he transitions from inventor to importer, bringing over a foreign creature and packaging it in a way that makes American kids want to buy it. Considering he's better at telling stories than he is at inventing, this just might work.

MR. HANSON: Can I keep one of these here, run some tests on him?

The mogwai are foreign creatures. Mr. Hanson's a curious American, so he does what all curious Americans do: he sticks needles in them. He'd probably dissect the thing if he the opportunity to.

MR. FUTTERMAN: Gremlins! You gotta… you gotta watch out for them foreigners because they plant gremlins in their machinery. The same gremlins brought down our planes in the big one. […] That's right. World War II.

Mr. Futterman falls into the category of an "I told you so!" character. His lunatic ramblings turn out to be right. Foreign things are dangerous! This whole movie is like his worst nightmare.

BILLY: They're gremlins, Kate. Just like Mr. Futterman said.

When the mogwai mutate into green, gross, violent creatures, they get a different name: gremlins. That name distances them even further from normality, making them seem more foreign and dangerous.

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