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Thoughts on District 9…

I ❤ Peter Jackson. He is my new fake boyfriend.

This summer has been shiteous for movies. Let’s just put that out there. I don’t need to go any further. You guys know how I felt about Transformers 2, Wolverine and GI Joe.

However, there have been a few diamonds. Terminator: Salvation was awesome. The Hangover was hilarious. And District 9…oh gosh!

So I went into the theater under the impression that it was going to either be an effective social commentary, or a confusing mess that was trying too hard. Either way, I figured that it couldn’t be that bad, right? Come to find out, it was really neither.

SPOILERS AHEAD!!

District 9 is a beaut of a film. Think “Blair Witch Project” meets “Transformers: Salvation” meets “Quarantine” in terms of shooting style. It was a mockumentary, in that it cuts between interviews, “stock footage” from security cameras, in-your-face-right-in-the-moment POVs and true cinematography. Oh it was visually orgasmic. And it looked good. Like, the aliens, the ships…everything – it just all looked like someone took the time to make sure that we were totally immersed in this world. Loved it.

I also enjoyed the fact that there weren’t any huge names in the flick to throw me off. I feel, at times, like a good movie takes me away from who the people are as actors and draws me into their characters. That’s something that’s been missing in movies recently. I liked the idea of only knowing these actors as the characters they were portraying. And, what a good job they did. Great group of actors.

I read an article before seeing the movie that said that District 9 was allegorical to South African apartheid, in that the aliens were assigned to a slum and were to be moved to concentration camp at the request of human citizens who did not want them around them. I can see that. There were blatant official sections of the city where the “prawns”, as they were called, were not allowed. District 9, where the aliens lived, was an inhabitable slum controlled by the government and a gang of criminal humans who were using the area to traffic alien weapons and technology. I don’t have to summarize the whole movie, but basically, yeah, apartheid. I see it.

But I’m not sure that that’s where we’re supposed to stop thinking. It’s easy to make ties to South African apartheid. Both happened in South Africa. White people were in control in both situations. Both involved blatant government mandated discrimination. But how can we look at District 9 as a commentary for what’s going on in today’s society?

1) Loyalty is a low-class idea and form of survival. – It is well documented that in slums inhabited by lower-class people, there is a sense of unorganized unity and loyalty that cannot be found at the neighborhood cocktails parties of the upper class. It’s interesting that when our friend Wilkus starts to become an alien and goes back into District 9, none of the aliens attempt to hurt him. In fact, at the end, they come to his aid to kill the people who are attempting to kill him. I just found it so interested that not one person from Wilkus’ life pre-alien wanted to help him.

2) The government really does not care about you. – Like, really. So they went up in the space ship and took all the aliens out under the guise of “let’s help the poor sick whatevers”, right? But then they stick them in dirty slums and refuse to take care of them anymore. Sound familiar at all? I’m not just referring to apartheid. Look at Section 8 programs. Let’s take a bunch of poor black people out of the city where they have access to their families, jobs, cheap food and public transportation and put them in the boonies in an apartment complex surrounding by white people who moved to the ‘burbs to get away from the “urban aspects of city life” and not give them access to public transportation, food or any other resources. It never makes sense, yet the government continues to do it to populations of people all over the country.

3) The government really does not care about you (part two) – Poor Wilkus. He was the “chosen one”, picked to go out into these slums and get signatures from aliens…yeah I know, it makes NO damn sense. Either way, once he’s injured in the line of duty and becomes part alien, they decide to harness his new DNA to control the alien weapons. They didn’t just ask him nicely to help. They tried to kill him. Ignorant to the idea that turning into an alien little by little may kinda suck, they shocked him with electricity to force him to shoot cows, pigs, and eventually, to kill another alien. Really, the government does not like people who do not look like them.

4) The government really does not care about you (part three) – The government would rather keep you in a landfill than give you the resources to better yourself. Why didn’t MNU just help the aliens fix their ship so that they could leave? Why doesn’t the government do more to better inner city schools so that the children can learn and not have to turn to crime? Why can’t the government help people who don’t speak English so that they can become members of American society? Basically, why havent’ we learned yet that if you provide a group of people with the resources to better themselves, there’s a good chance that they will not squander them?

5) Regardless of what’s going on with other species, the government is going to still kinda screw black people over – Did anyone else notice how Wilkus didn’t care that the black dude didn’t have a bullet proof vest when they first went into District 9? Enough said.

6) Majority culture may learn all about your culture, but sadly, in a lot of cases, that knowledge is then used to kill what bits of your culture you’re still allowed to have. – So, Wilkus could definitely understand the alien language. He knew what their signs meant (somewhat). But they still went and changed their names? Christopher? Way to Kunta Kente/Toby -erize a whole culture of people. And I’m not just looking at white people on this one. In the same light that white people took over black culture and they gave us BET, the poison that’s killing what’s left of us, black people, in some ways, only look at white culture as a way to make fun of and hold other people back. It’s really sad.

7) Fear is the most destructive force in the universe. – This is the most important. We fear what we don’t understand. And in most cases, we try to make our fears go away. I’ll admit, I used to be afraid of Playdoh when I was a kid. So you know what I did? I threw it all in the trash can. The citizens of South Africa were afraid of the aliens, so they moved them to a landfill and then planned to put them in tents far away from civilisation, knowing that they would all die out there. Hitler managed to convince a whole nation of people that they should fear and hate the Jews. We all know how that turned out. White people were convinced that black people were an ignorant, feral people and are still holding them captive in slums without the resources to better themselves. People are afraid that gay people are evil and will give everyone AIDS, so we refuse to give them equal rights. It’s a never-ending cycle because no one wants to take the time to understand anything. We’re too much about action.

I might have thought way too hard about that.

Either way, District 9 was more than a movie. It was a call to action. I left the theater angry. Not just at white people, but at all people.

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Discussion

One thought on “Thoughts on District 9…

  1. A US friend told me all about it. I really can’t wait for its September release herein the UK. Top post!

    Posted by On the Money | August 25, 2009, 8:51 am

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