Ok, so I didn’t end up finishing my post exactly how I hoped, because I left out stuff, so here is the stuff I left out (because I was sleeeepy).
My girlfriend’s reaction to slaters was more along the lines of “ew, gross” than “ARGH, take it away, take it away”. That said, she grew up in an environment where gardens were enjoyed but not something she had to tend, so the likelihood of her coming across garden critters such as slaters was much reduced than my childhood – where we gardened whether we wanted to or not. I think that the fact that my household considers slaters to be cute is a socialised thing. We learnt that they’re harmless and fun to play with (they roll into little balls). My girlfriend has had no such exposure and it’s a small chitinous thing with lots of legs, which does sound gross. This is a nice supporting argument for e.smith’s post about likes, dislikes, attractions, and revulsion not being innate.
The second bit that was in my head when I first started thinking about this post, was the narrator’s commentary in Jeff Wayne’s musical of War of the Worlds. I don’t like the narrator actually… he’s condescending, rude, and acts superior to everyone else in the story, he’s almost unemotional, which given his world is being taken over by massive tripod aliens with laser beams is ludicrous. In both HG Well’s version of War of the Worlds, and in the musical (which is from the same work), the people of the village are curious about the capsule that has fallen from the sky, and initially fear that a man is trapped inside. Eventually the capsule starts to open:
Next morning, a crowd gathered on the Common, hypnotized by the unscrewing of the cylinder. Two feet of shining screw projected when, suddenly, the lid fell off! Two luminous disc-like eyes appeared above the rim. A huge, rounded bulk, larger than a bear, rose up slowly, glistening like wet leather. Its lipless mouth quivered and slavered, and snake-like tentacles writhed as the clumsy body heaved and pulsated. A few young men crept closer to the pit. A tall funnel rose, then an invisible ray of heat leapt from man to man and there was a bright glare, as each was instantly turned to fire. Every tree and bush became a mass of flames at the touch of this savage, unearthly Heat Ray. People clawed their way off the Common, and I ran too. I felt I was being toyed with, that when I was on the very verge of safety, this mysterious death would leap after me and strike me down. At last I reached Maybury Hill and in the dim coolness of my home I wrote an account for my newspaper before I sank into a restless, haunted sleep. I awoke to alien sounds of hammering from the pit, and hurried to the railway station to buy the paper. Around me, the daily routine of life – working, eating, sleeping – was continuing serenely as it had for countless years. (from Jeff Wayne’s musical – emphasis added)
So in this story people were curious, so curious they approached the strange object to see what would happen. When an otherworldly creature came out of the craft, they crept closer again to look. Only when they were threatened and some killed, did the crowd scatter, but not too far… they resumed their daily activities, despite the fact that several of them had been killed with a laser like device, which to me isn’t even remotely plausible, but in HG Well’s view of the world at that time, it may well have been. And perhaps it is still now, perhaps if aliens did turn up tomorrow a percentage of the population would continue on as normal, failing to see a threat until it is in their faces (or they are dead), I do know some incredibly oblivious people after all.
So yes… when the aliens eventually arrive, I’ll go and hide until I have proof they’re safe, my husbands will want to watch and see what happens, and there will no doubt be some people saying, “Flying saucers? Bah… I have things to do.”