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Alien Arts Are Appreciated
"I hadn't known you were a connoisseur of Kdatlyn artwork."
The puppeteer scratched idly at the floor with one of its fore-hooves. Beowulf ignored it, concentrating on the touch-sculpture. The exhibition was supposed to be some of the greatest works by the Kdatlyno sculptor, Loobee. It was an impressive sculpture, to be sure, but nothing really to write home about visually. He ran his hand across it, vaguely feeling the surface texture of the work. "It's not bad, but I don't know if I'd call it a masterpiece" he said finally.
The puppeteer turns its heads to look itself straight in its own eyes, a gesture Schaeffer had come to associate with Puppeteer humor. "Perhaps you're not getting the full intended effect," it said. "Try touching it with your tongue. Your tongue is much more sensitive than your fingertips."
"The Borderland of Sol" by Larry Niven

Rubber-Forehead Aliens as applied to aesthetics rather than physiology, or alternatively the cultural counterpart to No Biochemical Barriers, Alien Arts Are Appreciated when Speculative Fiction depicts arts and entertainment made by one species as finding an audience among aliens. As for how likely this would be to occur, ask yourself the following: What human being would appreciate the works of a species that communicate by emitting scents, with the closest equivalent to a novel being a device that emits smells in order to tell a story, or a "sculpture" consisting of a single scent? Or a painting made by a being blind in the spectrum visible to humans but sighted in frequencies humans cannot perceive? Of course, there are also the psychological differences: What would a species with no concept of fate make of the Iliad, for example?

But hey, who knows? One species might become inexplicably fascinated with some minor part of another species' culture in the way that Germans Love David Hasselhoff. It should also be noted that all of the above only applies to Starfish Aliens, there's no reason to assume an alien species with enough in common with humanity couldn't appreciate the arts.

Common in Space Opera. When done by an alien to humans this is Klingons Love Shakespeare, which may be a result of Intrigued by Humanity; when done by humans to aliens, it may be because the character/group in question is The Xenophile. When this is applied to TV, it's Aliens Steal Cable. When applied to human music or cuisine, this can overlap with Sense Freak. See also Humans Through Alien Eyes.

Examples

    open/close all folders 

    Anime & Manga 
  • It's unclear exactly how much exposure Kaworu Nagisa of Neon Genesis Evangelion has had to human culture, but he does specifically cite music as the Lilim's crowning achievement, claiming that it "cleanses the soul".
  • A huge part of the plot in Super Dimension Fortress Macross/Robotech. One major reason that humanity wasn't wiped out by their vastly more numerous foe was that many Zentraedi were interested in human entertainment and didn't want to see it disappear. This gets amusing when humanity figures this out and essentially weaponizes pop music.
  • This is the premise for Haiyore! Nyarko-san. Aliens love human entertainment - specifically anime, manga and Video Games - so much that it's become a controlled substance within the galaxy. The titular Nyarko is an alien sent to track down and prevent illegal smuggling from Earth, and ends up spending most of her time enjoying herself with all this Earth entertainment.

    Audio Play 
  • In Gallifrey, a Gallifreyan collector of alien art asks whether the owner of a mobile phone composed that "wonderful tune" himself, when it plays the default Nokia ringtone.

    Comic Books 
  • Xavin from Runaways refers to Starbucks Caramel Machiato as the finest accomplishment of the whole solar system; it also could be his/her personal taste though.
  • New Mutants and X-Men supporting character Lila Cheney is an Earth-born folk rock musician who uses her mutant power to teleport interstellar distances to include alien planets on her concert tours.
  • In El Eternauta a "Mano" starts ranting on beauty after seeing a coffee pot.
    "Pass me that sculpture, please. In that neck's grace lay centuries of art. [...] Are men aware of all the wonderful things that surround them? Do they have any idea of how many inhabited worlds there are in the universe, and how few of them have flowered with objects such as this one? "
  • In Nexus, the strange sculptures dug up on Ylum prove to be tremendously popular throughout the galaxy, and command high prices. That's partly a result of the fact that the artifacts in question are made of unidentifiable materials. Also, it's not unreasonable to think that people might be interested in the artifacts of an otherwise unknown alien civilization.
  • Buck Godot: Zap Gun for Hire: Buck is informed by his uncle Frakkus that many species on Gallimaufry Station that are indifferent or even hostile towards humans and their affairs still attend their parties — they're in it for the popsicles, humanity's great contribution to galactic culture. One particularly alien species likes to stuff and mount their popsicles. Even the other Starfish Aliens think they're weird.
  • By volume two of Young Avengers, Marvel Boy has become something of an alien hipster. He enjoys close-harmony girl groups and Nina Simone (who Norse God Loki also likes).
  • In the IDW G1 Transformers series, after spending an extended amount of downtime on Earth, Thundercracker has become so enamored with a tv drama called 'Nurse Whitney', that he's started working on his own screenplay.
    • He needs to start looking online for an agent.

    Fan Fiction 
  • Human arts are generally quite well received in Diaries of a Madman, with the exception of Shakespeare's tragedies, which Celestia bans Nav from transcribing and selling after they cause a lot of upset.

    Films — Animation 
  • In Megamind, the title main character is a blue, big headed villainous alien who loves classic rock and pop, using the former as stage music for dramatic entrances whenever possible. He displays fondness for Guns N' Roses, AC/DC, Minnie Ripperton and Michael Jackson. On the other hand, Metro Man's singing is atrocious, although Megamind likes it too.
  • Daft Punk's Interstella 5555: The 5tory of the 5ecret 5tar 5ystem features a blue-skinned alien quartet who are kidnapped by Earl de Darkwood and disguised and brainwashed to perform for humans, who completely love their music and instantly make them a world-wide phenomenon. Their fans are not fazed when the truth comes out. It even turns out that many music legends, from Mozart to Jimi Hendrix, are also aliens who were similarly kidnapped.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • In Galaxy Quest, the aliens think the eponymous TV show portrays actual events... and base their entire culture on them. They have no concept of "fiction", and assume any story is either true or a lie. It's understandably confusing to them why intelligent beings would lie to each other for fun. Even lying is new to them; they apparently had no concept of deception until they met Sarris. In contrast, Sarris laughs his ass off when he finally sees the "historical documents".

    Literature 
  • Star Wars Expanded Universe:
    • Grand Admiral Thrawn uses his appreciation of alien art to get inside its creators' heads and come up with tactics to fight them more efficiently, ideally making them submit rather than be wiped out. In Outbound Flight he also demonstrates that he can determine the visual ranges of these creators and how many arm joints they have. Thrawn considers it his greatest failure the one time where he was unable to do that with a race and was forced to destroy them. Bear in mind, it's not the destruction of an entire species that bothers Thrawn. It's the failure of his analysis.
    • In The New Essential Guide to Alien Species it is explained that Zeltrons, who are offshoots of humanity, write some of the best erotica. To be fair, Zeltrons are also a Free-Love Future race with empathy abilities, so it makes sense for them to have a good understanding of the subject.
    • In the X-Wing Series, an insectile species called the Vratix, which trusts its sense of touch over all others, has a role. Vratix art never comes up, but it's shown that the insides of their homes, created by mixing mud and chewed leaves with their saliva, are covered in intricate texturing, which seems to call up an emotional response in the human touching it. She likens it to a symphony, except that in choosing to stroke which way she could choose what to feel in what order. This fuses with function, since near the doorhole there are many raised bumps to evoke caution.
    • Some of the barriers to this trope are shown (sort of) in the second movie, according to some EU sources, those bare, plain walls that all rooms on Kamino had, turns out they were actually all covered in grand, colorful murals. It's just that you have to be able to see into the ultraviolet spectrum to notice them. Similarly, another X-Wing book has a Gand character painting his X-Wing. To humans it looks plain white, but characters who can see ultraviolet comment that it's a work of art.
    • During Splinter Of The Minds Eye, Luke and Leia see a performance the alien Coway put on. Luke doesn't like their music, finding it wailing and discordant, but likes their dancing for its aggressive physicality. Leia, who as a former Senator is far more cosmopolitan, enjoys the performance without reservations.
    • Galaxy of Fear: The Swarm has its protagonists visit a world whose natives are enormous insects who like gardens. The studious Tash likes the gardens and the variety of plants in them, while her younger and more tech-minded brother is bored. They meet a local poet who composes in "wingsong", which neither human can understand.
      Sh'shak fluttered his wings. As he listened, Zak heard the soft skrrrrrrrr sound change its tone and pacing. By moving his wings at differing speeds, now rubbing them together, now fluttering them apart, Sh'shak created a series of intricate tones and humming noises. Even Zak had to admit that it was beautiful.
      • Then-captain Thrawn is also there and appreciates the gardens and how plants are arranged, but... see above, he would.
  • Ax of Animorphs is the only alien on the team. His species consumes food by absorbing it through their hooves, and have almost no concept of taste. Once he gains a human morph, it takes no time at all for him to become a Sense Freak, to the point where he once crawled around the floor of a movie theater, looking for "brown globules" (Raisinets). And his favorite television programs are "These Messages".
  • Larry Niven:
    • In the Known Space 'verse, the Kdatlyno "touch-sculptor" Lloobee is a celebrity throughout human space. The Kdatlyno "see" using sonar, so their sculptures are impressionistic masses with all sorts of interesting micro-angles and shapes that are pretty much invisible to the naked eye. Humans can enjoy a touch-sculpture by, as the name implies, touching the things. Especially if they use their much more sensitive tongues to do the touching...
    • The Mote in God's Eye has an aversion of some interest: the Moties' color vision works differently from humans', so to humans the colors in their paintings all look off.
  • In the Uplift universe, several alien species are enamoured with human literature and poetry (including old science fiction pulp novels), because the human languages present a high degree of ambiguity of meaning and pronunciation which is not present in the artificial languages used by galactic society. Just as many species revile human culture for the exact same reasons, of course. Also, whale songs are considered an art form beyond peer by some aliens, to the point where once an alien ship once held a Terragen ship hostage until they transmitted several whale songs.
  • In an obscure German vignette nominally set in the Perry Rhodan universe (although that's not central to the plot), a Terran ship encountering an alien beacon that seems to broadcast an invitation to an art exhibition sends a shuttle to the indicated world. The shuttle crew (including an actual professional art critic) find the exhibition hall empty. It eventually turns out they weren't invited as visitors...
  • In I Married An Earthling, Earth's TV broadcasts are the subject of academic study on the planet Zeeron.
  • An Honor Harrington example can be found in the short story "The Grand Tour". There are very few intelligent alien species, only about 12 known ones in human space, and none currently advanced enough for space travel. One species which died out was advanced, and are simply known as the Alphanes. There are large crystal pillars that remain of their architecture which are considered quite beautiful.
  • In The Tangled Strings of the Marionettes, certain humans become so enamored by the local Starfish Aliens' epic ballet/ritual suicide that they resort to extreme body modification to make themselves nimble enough to perform the moves. As the title suggests, they only have limited success.
  • In James P. Hogan's novel The Legend That Was Earth, Hyadean films (which are mostly exercises in social engineering) fail to make a splash on Earth. Human films, on the other hand, are becoming very popular on the Hyadean homeworld.
  • Murray Leinster's classic short story "First Contact" is centered around the dilemma of a human and alien ship, meeting unexpectedly for the first time, who can't possibly trust each other because they have no shared frame of reference, so they can't be certain that they're interpreting anything the other side says or shows correctly. While the captains agonize over this, two low-level crewmembers somehow manage to swap dirty jokes.
    • The problem isn't that the two sides don't understand each other; ironically it's that they're too similar, so both sides know that the other will look for any advantage to insure the survival of their own species, even if that means wiping out the other.
  • In Perdido Street Station by China Miéville the character Lin is a khepri (basically a human woman with a large beetle for a head) sculptor. Her art consists of chewing colored sticks and extruding a resin of some sort out of the back of her beetle head's body and using the beetle's hind legs to form it into statues. She's commissioned by the (arguably) human Mr. Motley to create a sculpture of himself.
  • In Roger Zelazny's This Immortal, the aliens view original-formula Coca-Cola as humanity's second-greatest contribution to galactic culture. The first being a new and interesting problem in the social sciences, namely, what to do with a species who managed to ruin their own homeworld. (They also apparently appreciate poetry).
  • Often in the Star Trek Novel Verse. As an example, in Star Trek: Ex Machina, the government of Lorina has decorated its public buildings in a wide variety of alien art forms, most of them from the Federation. The public speakers even play Andorian music. One of the art styles on display is Tellarite Erotic Abstract (introduced as part of a Crowning Moment of Funny in Star Trek: Millennium). Meanwhile, in the Star Trek: A Time to... series, Klingon Councillor Kopek decorates his office with items of art from across explored space. Among the paintings, artifacts and sculptures are those created by humans, Vulcans, and Betazoids. This despite the fact that Kopek despises those races. To be honest, he probably justifies them as "trophies". In Star Trek: The Lost Era, one book shows Enabran Tain, a Cardassian, admiring human stained-glass windows, while another Cardassian (Danig Kell) hangs Lissepian paintings in his office.
  • Played with in John Ringo's Troy Rising series, along with No Biochemical Barriers: the Glatun traders, barred from buying the platinum-group metals they want by the Horvath warship in Earth orbit, buy a load of human artistic masterpieces (including, but not limited to "Starry, Starry Night" and the Venus de Milo). It's described as the equivalent of European explorers reaching various "primitive" cultures and buying the local glass beads and seashells. They are, however, big fans of the protagonist's webcomic. And while Coca-cola is deadly poisonous to them, maple syrup is some sort of ambrosial booze equivalent. (They sell the masterpieces back, plus more computing power than in the whole of Silicon Valley, for a semi-truck load of maple syrup)
  • Invoked in The Stars Are Cold Toys by Sergey Lukyanenko. Earthlings end up as a Lesser Race in a galaxy full of Scary Dogmatic Aliens. As such they are forbidden to import any pieces of advanced alien technology, but apparently allowed alien art. Humans use this loophole to get their hands on things like decorative plating that is, conveniently, more durable than any human-made material. Hey, it's not a crime if you want your body armor and starships pretty, is it?
    • Actually, humans are allowed some advanced technology, but they're only allowed to use it for its primary purpose. The protagonist mentions there is a large supply of superstrong monomolecular string that the worm-like aliens they get them from use for their version of a C-section. Humans are perfectly welcome to use it for the same purpose, but to build a Space Elevator? No way.
    • In another Lukyanenko novel, Line of Delirium, the massive bear-like Bulrathi are Blessed with Suck by evolution to have extremely-high-pitched voices. Certain establishments, however, hire Bulrathi singers as tenors, although you have to have a lot of self-control to avoid laughing at a huge bear singing falsetto (that is, if you care about your life). The protagonist also visits the Bulrathi homeworld of Ursa, which features gift shops for tourists, run by humans.
  • In the Alan Dean Foster novel Nor Crystal Tears, the Thranx, a species of intelligent insectoids, makes an alliance with Humanity. One poet notes that this development is not only fascinating to contemplate, but also gives him a new audience as well as we see him take a bow from an enthusiastic human audience to one of his readings.
    • The Thranx poets are thrilled by the range of human artistry. In Phytogenesis, a small-time crook who's never been particularly into human art sees a Thranx poet's spontaneous recital, spawned by the poet's reaction to seeing the man eat a fish, and despite the fact that the performance is whistling and clicking in a language he can't understand, accompanied by expressive gestures he also can't understand, the crook finds it amazingly beautiful.
    • On the flip side, the thranx are fascinated by the unparalleled flexibility afforded by humans' internal skeletons, and teams of human gymnasts and dancers quickly find huge audiences among them.
  • Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency: Near the end of the book, Richard Mac Duff is awed by the alien music he hears playing aboard a spacecraft, thinking it's the most beautiful thing he's ever heard. When he returns home, he hears the same music playing. Professor Chronotis had gone back in time and given the alien music to Bach. And now you know where the piece of music "Ach bleib bei uns, Herr Jesu Christ," comes from.
  • In the Retief series, members of the Diplomatic corps are generally forced to pretend this trope applies, even though it is almost always averted. It simply wouldn't be appropriate to admit that more than two minutes of Groaci nose-flute music invariably causes a splitting headache, or that the delicate interplay of shades of ultraviolet in a painting are outside our visual range.
  • This is basically the point in Year Zero by Rob Reid. The rest of the universe loves (really loves, 'like literally die from the happy' loves) our pop music. The problem is they also respect our copyright laws...
  • There are no aliens in the Vorkosigan Saga but there are genetically modified humans who have their own peculiar forms of art. Miles is impressed by the Quaddies' null-grav ballet. Miles and his friends seem to be more ambiguous about Cetagandian art, which is fascinating and requires a great deal of skill but kind of creepy.
  • Averted in the Chanur Saga by C. J. Cherryh. For the color-blind kif art consists of objects with bumps, concavities and varying textures which is appreciated by feeling it with your hands. For the stsho art consists of interior art and abstract paintings, both of which are done in infinite shades of white.
  • The Tendu of The Color Of Distance speak with color-changing skins. Their favored art form is qabirri, dancing to music while flashing bright, elaborate words in patterns. A visiting human is enthralled by a performance. One of her Tendu friends, seeing her watching, thinks unhappily that she's not appreciating it correctly - she's too new to their language to understand the fast-moving formalized words or the history on display.
    • In Through Alien Eyes some Tendu visit Earth. Art forms with an emphasis on harmony, including some well-planned gardens, appeal greatly to one. He also takes a liking to improvisational jazz music and enjoys a joint performance with musicians, their playing and his qabirri skills together. A different one is extremely interested in Japanese plays.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Star Trek:
    • In some versions of Star Trek, human adolescents appreciate Klingon heavy metal. It is apparently pretty much the same thing as our heavy metal, except that Klingons do it and it's in their character, so it becomes "alien". Their opera, on the other hand, is supposedly without any direct real-world equivalent.
    • The trope runs both ways in Star Trek, as Klingons have a particular affinity for the works of William Shakespeare, and often say that to get its full effect, it must be read "in the original Klingon." The single exception to this is Romeo and Juliet, which is actively despised by Klingons. Whereas humans see it as the tale of two tragic, star-crossed lovers doomed to die, Klingons see it as a story of two children act like honorless ptaq who put "love" ahead of family loyalty and duty and thereby dishonor their parents.
    • There's an episode of Star Trek: Voyager in which a technically-minded alien race is entranced by the Doctor's singing, an art that they'd never experienced before. It later turns out they have distinctly non-human tastes in this department; they are impressed by technically hard pieces that have no rhyme or reason to them.
    • And then of course, there is Star Trek IV, when aliens threaten to destroy Earth because they cannot hear whalesong.
    • After figuring out that Tamarian language is based on metaphors from their own mythology, Picard attempts to connect with Dathon by reciting the Epic of Gilgamesh.
    • The TNG episode "First Contact" (not to be confused with the film) reveals that it's standard Federation procedure to pirate a selection of entertainment programs of a civilization about to discover faster-than-light technology, to help them get a sense of what the race's society is like. One of the people contacted in the episode is quite embarrassed at this idea, and Picard admits that they give an "incomplete" picture of the society.
    • A Star Trek: Enterprise episode has the crew encounter a race of Human Aliens with three sexes. The alien captain turns out to be a huge fan of plays, going through Shakespeare and Sophocles in a matter of hours.
    • Played with in Star Trek: Deep Space Nine in the case of the Vorta, who apparently have no appreciation for any aesthetics at all, leading to Weyoun asking Kira if one of Ziyal's paintings would look better if it were blue.
      • Ziyal's paintings themselves are a somewhat extreme case, as apparently mixing Cardassian and Bajoran painting techniques somehow ends up producing works that are appreciated by both cultures.
      • Also played with in the episode The Wire. Garak gives Dr. Bashir a Cardassian novel to read and Bashir thinks it's terrible (and from the description we get of it he's right). Meanwhile Garak reads Julius Caesar and is thoroughly unimpressed, commenting that Caesar should have known Brutus was going to betray him from the first act.
  • In Stargate Atlantis, Teyla really has a thing for popcorn. She and Ronan, however, do not seem to understand the attraction of TV. Also, Nerus, a Goa'uld, is fascinated with such Earth delicacies as chicken, seedless grapes, and cupcakes.
  • The Torchwood episode "A Day in the Death" had a music box/light show thing, which was explicitly the originating species' equivalent of music. It is primarily visual, but pretty.
  • Babylon 5:
    • The Narn and the Centauri each have their own forms of opera, equally detested by the other. Then again the two are at each other's throats all the time anyway, so this may just be simple prejudice. But human culture, especially humor, is generally agreed among aliens to be about as incomprehensible as the Vorlons.

      The Narn opera is briefly heard during the series, and apparently sounds like loud screeching. The human humor is considered odd by many alien characters, but others are shown to like it - they seem to imply that the Marx Brothers-style slapstick is once again the most popular form of comedy on Earth.
      "Zooty-zoot-zoot!"
    • While Human humor often relies of physical injury or embarrassment, Minbari humor centers on failure to achieve spiritual enlightenment. Or puns. Or inappropriate greeting protocols.
    • Centauri opera is also heard - Vir and Londo sing a bit at the beginning of a season 2 episode - and although it's in Centauri language it still sounds rather human. Londo later studies Human music and finds "remarkable composers" and "astonishing symphonies", but after a solid week of study cannot make any sense out of the Hokey Pokey.
    • Ambassador G'Kar is depicted singing while he prepares dinner in Parliament of Dreams. The song is from the Gilbert and Sullivan operetta Iolanthe.
    • In the prequel "In The Beginning" Londo says that human "art, trinkets, and eccentricity" were what got the Centauri interested in the Humans in the first place.
    • In the last episode of the fifth season, Vir mentioned that he and Londo heard some Pak'ma'ra singing. And that it was beautiful.
  • In Angel, Lorne is a native of the dimension of Pylea, which doesn't have singing or music of any kind, although they do have dancing. ("Numfar! Do the dance of joy!") When he finally went to Earth, he loved music so much that he opened a karaoke bar. He can also read peoples' futures when they sing. When he revisits Pylea, it turns out that singing causes excruciating pain to other Pyleans.
  • In Doctor Who, the Doctor himself seems to appreciate human art. On the other hand, Romana didn't seem as impressed when they visited the Louvre in "City of Death".
    • He also likes their jelly babies and edible ball bearings, but that could just be the Genius Sweet Tooth talking. In the case of the latter, he's amazed that humanity are the only race in the entire galaxy to come up with such a thing!
  • An example that doesn't leave Earth: Lily from How I Met Your Mother is having no success selling her abstract paintings (one trendy gay couple makes a purchase just to get the frame). When she throws them in the trash, they are found by a veterinarian who discovers that her work has a remarkable calming effect on dogs, even in the midst of operations.
    • Birds however just didn't get her work, and would even kill themselves in efforts to dive bomb her paintings in hatred.
  • Alien Nation:
    • One of the TV movies had Cathy moving in with Matt and decorating the place with clown paintings and figurines. It turns out that clowns are pretty popular with the Tenctonese, partly because they're so colorful, and partly because the Tenctonese have never seen anything like them.
    • In the series, Cathy can't understand how Matt can watch something as violent as The Three Stooges, and recommends a really great movie... The Love Bug.
  • Almost every episode of 3rd Rock from the Sun - All the aliens love earth television, in "The Art of Dick" we learn that Harry can paint, the aliens like a number of human foods, and are seen to enjoy dancing.
  • Lister from Red Dwarf apparently enjoyed reading Cat's books which were basically lines of scents. Granted one of those books, their holy scripture, was about him.
  • One episode of Sesame Street has the yip-yip aliens investigate a radio. It takes them four tries to find a channel they like, but they do it - one that sounds suspiciously like static.

    Tabletop Games 
  • In Traveller K'kree perfumers are famous. K'kree have the best sense of smell of all the "major races" and so their perfume can sell well to others.
    • Aslan epics and decorative weapons are lovingly described in Alien Races 2 however it is not said whether humans find them popular. However some Aslan ship designs are rather liked by Solomani humans and there were tales of human warbands in the past who affected the customs and dress of the Aslan even when fighting them
    • One of the straightest examples in Traveller is the J'aadje. They are obsessed with beauty and what looks beautiful to them will often look beautiful to a human. Not least of these reasons is that popularity tends to be the goal so symbolism is downplayed among them to make sure that the works are as impressive as possible to the uneducated. Therefore there is no need to worry about inscrutable and untranslatable cultural concepts.

    Video Games 
  • The alien artifacts in Freelancer start out as nothing but nice-looking, highly expensive engraved lumps of stone, crystal and metal. Their sudden ban is one of the things that cause Junko and Lonnigan to suspect something's wrong.
  • Mass Effect:
    • The asari are said to be the foremost exporters of culture among the species of the known galaxy. It also works the other way round; at one point, we hear that the elcor plan to stage a production of Hamlet. Since elcor speak veeerrry sloooowly and preface all their lines with a statement of emotional content, since other species can't read their body language or inflections, this is one of the funniest moments in the game. And yes, the sequel includes an advert showing clips.
      "Nostalgic Melancholy: Alas poor Yorick. I knew him, Horatio."
      "Be sure to see it live. An unforgettable fourteen-hour experience."
      • One of the ads for the play states the (human) director had hoped this would cause the audience to judge the character Hamlet on his actions instead of the emotion behind it.
    • Also the exploitation movie "Blasto", which parodies Dirty Harry with a Hanar in the lead role, a race of pacifist, philosophical jellyfish aliens. As of Mass Effect 3, Joker mentions that "Blasto 6" is currently in cinemas, apparently a buddy movie in the style of Lethal Weapon.
    • And there was a multi-species production of The Pirates of Penzance we get to hear second-hand from Mordin Solus, who played the equivalent of the Modern Major General.
    • Stolen Memory, a piece of DLC, involves going into someone's art gallery. Kasumi, your companion, can remark on various pieces, saying for instance that asari go wild for ancient Egyptian relics, and being disparaging towards an abstract turian work which appears to be a few steel girders randomly welded together..
    • In Lair of the Shadow Broker, you get to wander around Liara's apartment, where she keeps a lot of Prothean relics. Justified because she used to be an archaeologist with a fascination with the Protheans.
    • A small joke in the second game involves a salarian video game store shopkeeper being distracted by a fascinating human game—Solitaire.
    • One of the reports for Cerberus Daily News says that the asari and the volus have embraced Valentine's Day, due to its focus on reproduction and commerce.
  • In the 1997 Point-and-Click Adventure Game The Space Bar, the films of Jerry Lewis are considered to be the pinnacle of comedy and are universally loved by all species across the galaxy, besides humans.
  • The Reticulan ambassadors that were stationed on Earth prior to the attack in UFO: Aftermath apparently had an appreciation for human art, and traded for it with small samples of their advanced technology.
  • The unggoy in Halo have a black market built around human soap operas, sitcoms, and the like. This probably has more to do with them being tasked to monitor UNSC communications and their superiority at learning (and therefore familiarity with human language) compared to the rest of the covenant than any fondness of humanity.
  • The Thraddash in Star Control 2 are a race of Chaotic Stupid Warriors who have bombed themselves back to the stone age multiple times, only to develop a new "Culture" that tries (and fails) to fix the problems with the last one. If you defeat enough of them, they are so impressed that they request your help in coming up with their next Culture. So you send them some The Three Stooges films, and they like them so much they they reinvent their entire civilization around emulating them.

    Web Comics 
  • In a Starslip strip, curator Vanderbeam wanders into Jinx's quarters for the first time and praises the artistry in the crystalline structures he's decorated it with- whereupon Jinx mentions that he has the Cirbozoid equivalent to a human's head cold.
  • Quentyn Quinn, Space Ranger shows how one can appreciate art intended for senses one doesn't have, using a robot and an ice cream sundae. Said robot also states that Quentyn lacks antennae or electromagnetic sensors, but still enjoys certain sculptures made by a race that has both.
  • In Homestuck, Karkat, who typically derides human culture as primitive and simplistic, considers Serendipity one of his favourite movies, partially because of its resonance with troll ideals of romantic destiny, and partially because he has pretty bad taste in movies.
    • Judging by some movie posters we see in Karkat's hive, troll movies are at least superficially similar to Earth movies (the posters are more or less direct copies of real movie posters with horns added to the actors), except that troll movie titles are actually more like plot synopses.
  • Kevin & Kell plays this straight, with canines having a scented candle novelization.

    Web Original 
  • Generally averted in Orion's Arm: alien minds just work too differently to really appreciate each other's art.
    • The To'ul'h greatly enjoy something called "polmusic", which is apparently political debate mixed with opera. Most Terragens (Earth-origin beings) don't really understand how that can even be a thing.
    • There's mention of a provolved mollusk that wrote a poem lovingly describing a patch of sand on the ocean floor. According to other intelligent mollusks, this poem is beautiful. To everyone else, it's just weird.
    • And there are the transapients, whom nobody understands to any great degree anyway. It's believed that the Kedric Incident, in which the questionably-sane archailect Kedric for some reason kidnapped billions of intelligent beings and re-engineered them all into some strange bio-mechanical construct, may in fact be an example of transapient "artwork".

    Western Animation 
  • Futurama:
    • Lrr, the perpetually angry and warlike ruler of Omicron Persei 8 is a fan of modern-day Earth sitcoms like Single Female Lawyer. Although Friends doesn't make sense to him. He doesn't understand why Ross, the largest, doesn't eat the other five.
      • They were saving that for sweeps.
    • Then there was this gem of a tale:
      Brain Ball #2: The Elders tell of a young ball much like you. He bounced three meters in the air. Then he bounced one point eight meters in the air. Then he bounced four metres in the air. Do I make myself clear?
      Henry Kissinger: Mr. Ambassador, our people tell the same story.
    • Again in the episode Three Hundred Big Boys, there is a showing and sale of the loot Zapp Brannigan won over the spider people of a foreign world. Their silks and art are appreciated, including the tapestry depicting Zapp invading their homeworld, woven while he was invading it.
  • Transformers:
    • Bulkhead, the resident big guy of the Autobots in Transformers Animated, develops an interest in art and eventually gets a gallery show of his own. The humans are very impressed with his abstract work...even though his best one was basically an accident with a blowtorch.
    • G1 Autobot Pipes has a fondness for human knick-knacks and made a collection of "nose hair trimmers, patent rulers, and other worthless but fascinating ephemera of the throwaway society."
    • Several of the G1 Autobots are fond of a soap opera called As the Kitchen Sinks.
    • And of course, the Junkions based their entire language on Earth's TV broadcasts.
    • Transformers Prime: Knock Out likes his human vehicle form, and takes part in human drag racing. Later episodes show him having an interest in human horror films.
  • Gargoyles are not immune. The younger ones break into movie theatres to watch Bambi, Hudson develops a fondness for television, and Goliath raids the library for Dostoevsky.
  • A variation applies in the Beetlejuice cartoon with Lydia Deetz's mother Delia. Delia's weird sculpture art is laughed at by the living people in the Outerworld, but it's a smash hit with the dead ghosts of the Neitherworld.

    Real Life 
  • While not alien in the sci-fi sense, there are hundreds of CDs dedicated just to whale and dolphin songs, so someone out there must appreciate them. What's more, paintings done by elephants sell for hundreds of dollars: [1]
  • Åke "Dacke" Axelsson, a journalist at the Swedish tabloid Göteborgs-Tidningen, came up with the idea of exhibiting a series of paintings made by an ape, under the presumption that they were the work of a previously unknown French artist named "Pierre Brassau", in order to test whether critics could tell the difference between true avant-garde modern art and the work of an ape. "Pierre Brassau" was in fact a four-year-old Common Chimpanzee named Peter from Sweden's Borås djurpark zoo. Critics praised the chimp's works, with Rolf Anderberg of the morning Posten writing, "Brassau paints with powerful strokes, but also with clear determination. His brush strokes twist with furious fastidiousness. Pierre is an artist who performs with the delicacy of a ballet dancer." One critic, however, panned the work, suggesting that "Only an ape could have done this". After the hoax was revealed, Rolf Anderberg insisted that Peter/Pierre's work was "still the best painting in the exhibition." A private collector bought one of the works for US$90.
  • This beluga whale apparently enjoys mariachi music.
  • Scientific studies have confirmed that parrots have a sense of rhythm like humans. A cursory search on Youtube will bring up a slew of dancing parrots.


Alien AbductionSpeculative Fiction TropesAlien Autopsy

alternative title(s): Alien Art Is Appreciated
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