Author Topic: Racial Allegory in 'District 9' sci-fi film  (Read 8875 times)

Offline Magic Wand

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Re: Racial Allegory in 'District 9' sci-fi film
« Reply #15 on: August 21, 2009, 11:15:21 am »
Hmmm.....I didn't get that Wikus was fighting to preserve his humanity as much as he was fighting to preserve his status and his marriage.

This film disturbed me.
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michaelintp

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Re: Racial Allegory in 'District 9' sci-fi film
« Reply #16 on: August 30, 2009, 09:27:07 am »
So all in all, I gather that District 9 is worth seeing, yes?

(I was out of town so I missed my Academy of Science Fiction, Fantasy and Horror Films screening)

(On the other hand, sounds like GI Joe was just your regular lame movie)

Offline Magic Wand

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Re: Racial Allegory in 'District 9' sci-fi film
« Reply #17 on: August 30, 2009, 09:58:03 am »
District 9 is Alien, Predator, Logan's Run, Watermelon Man, War of the World's and some other stuff all squished together.
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Offline Open palm

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Re: Racial Allegory in 'District 9' sci-fi film
« Reply #18 on: September 01, 2009, 01:20:50 am »
This movie is one the best sci-fi films I've watched this year. It's so disturbing and exciting. On the Nigerians, it could have been any other ethnic group preying on the aliens. I've posted links to articles about real cases of Africans mutilating African albinos for medicinal purposes. If they landed in China the same thing could have happened too, as they've killed many animals believing in their exotic properties. The white Afrikaaner mercs are another stereotype. But what was truly enthralling was not being sure what the two protagonists' true goals were. Was Christopher sincere in promising to restore Wikus to full human form? Or did he just change his mind like Wikus changed his mind in anger and hit him? It wasn't like they were truly working together so much as they just gave up and decided to help each other for the sake of it.
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Offline Open palm

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Re: Racial Allegory in 'District 9' sci-fi film
« Reply #19 on: September 01, 2009, 01:26:30 am »
When you watch the short film the movie was based on, it all becomes clear.  Apparently South African has an immigration problem.  The filmmaker interviewed South African and got their reactions, then shot additional footage with "aliens" to intercut with the documentary interviews.

Yeah. Despite the praise that South Africa is an economic model for African success, recent analysis shows close to 1 out of 4 South Africans are unemployed. Last year there were the riots with South Africans attacking immigrants and refugees. That included Zimbabweans and Nigerians.  :(
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Offline Emperorjones

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Re: Racial Allegory in 'District 9' sci-fi film
« Reply #20 on: September 01, 2009, 02:56:11 am »
OP,

The fact was the director didn't pick any other ethnic group. It was Nigerians that were specifically put out there and defined in well-worn stereotypes about black people. And just because some Africans do some of those things can we then extrapolate and say that all Africans do? These things you documented, were Nigerians the ones doing them?

Offline Open palm

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Re: Racial Allegory in 'District 9' sci-fi film
« Reply #21 on: September 01, 2009, 03:57:15 am »
OP,

The fact was the director didn't pick any other ethnic group. It was Nigerians that were specifically put out there and defined in well-worn stereotypes about black people. And just because some Africans do some of those things can we then extrapolate and say that all Africans do? These things you documented, were Nigerians the ones doing them?

I didn't document them. I read them off other news reports. But no, Nigerians aren't specifically the ones killing African albinos. I suspect the director is touching on current immigration problems by using them. But I doubt anybody can tell the South Africans to be more humane to them anyway. Even though Nigeria helped them during the apartheid era the current problems have made them resent anybody who appears to be taking away their jobs and land. The nation's economy has now shrunken for three quarters straight! The people will get angry and they'll just blame the other guys.  :(

Update: holy sh*t! I just learned there's a South African slur for foreigners like that: amakwerekwere. And yes, Nigerians are angry about the movie, but they're accusing the South Africans for being their usual xenophobic self.

In addition: I have always been bothered by BP's enemy, Achebe, having the same name as famous Nigerian writer Chinua Achebe. Giving that name to a crazy, black African 'schemer' should have been denounced years ago.
« Last Edit: September 01, 2009, 08:34:49 pm by Open palm »
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Offline Vic Vega

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Re: Racial Allegory in 'District 9' sci-fi film
« Reply #22 on: September 01, 2009, 08:13:10 am »
Saw this yesterday.

The film make the point in showing that everybody is dehuminzed by the Prawn's captivity,the Prawns themselves, the banality of evil hero, the Afrikanner corporate types, the Nigerians, the mercs and average guy on the street.

The only completely decent soul in the movie is Chris the Prawn. All Wikus wants for 90% of the movie is for things to go back to the way they were.  Its not til the end of the film that he shows the capacity for empathy and self sacrifice.

Like EJ I take issue with the portray of the Nigerians as well. I fully well undrstand that violence and superstition are problems in Africa as a whole. But I have to think the depiction of bug-eyed, superstitous, crazed Nigerian Shottas are more about filmic shock value than anything else.

michaelintp

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Re: Racial Allegory in 'District 9' sci-fi film
« Reply #23 on: September 06, 2009, 02:49:15 pm »
To me, this film constitutes a strong indictment of racism and bigotry. 

None of the human characters, whether they be black or white, are portrayed without taint. Even Wikus Van De Merwe, the main protagonist in the film, who is fundamentally not a bad guy, is shown to be permeated with "racism" against the aliens, all the way down to an unthinking level.  In part the film shows how "good men" (and women) may participate in a bigoted system, when the system is widespread and commonly accepted.  The commentaries by pundits and family members, the justifications, the rationalizations, the misperceptions, and the denials of implications (with regard to both past conduct and the future) are also very revealing.

By calling the aliens by the insulting name "Prawns" the humans "dehumanize" the aliens, as is typical with racial/ethnic bigotry.  Of course the interesting twist is that the aliens are NOT human, but they are clearly intelligent - though that too is denied by the humans, as part of the scheme of rationalization (that the aliens were believed to be the "worker" class).  This is reminiscent of the attitudes held with regard to slaves in 19th Century America.

Giving the aliens "slave names" (i.e. absurd human names, such as "Christopher") was an amusing touch.

Beyond all this, there were elements of humor and drama, betrayal and commitment, sometimes unfolding in unexpected ways. 

I won't say anything about the ending (though I could, don't want to create a spoiler) but I will say the commentaries at the end totally fit with the themes expressed earlier in the film.

Offline Jihad the Roughneck

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Re: Racial Allegory in 'District 9' sci-fi film
« Reply #24 on: September 06, 2009, 09:39:30 pm »
Sisters prostituting themselves to another species, Africans eating another species.  If thats not racist then what is.  Then the Mafia leaders name is Obasanjo.  I understand that South Africans and Nigerians do not get along so well but really.  Has anyone on this board ever studied racism because few of you seem to have a good grasp upon what is and is not racist not saying any names but you could use a university class or two on the subject.  When African inhumanity is depicted we are the thug the prosititute the shanty town dweller and the gangster.  Africans are not perfect, Africans do some bad things but News flash so do Caucasions but I have yet to see the film where whites are portrayed as cannibals prostitutes and subservients, hmm why is that?  I mean Chikatilo the russian ripper he was a cannibal Garrido raped a girl for what 19 years. I'm really disapointed by the responses about this film.     
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michaelintp

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Re: Racial Allegory in 'District 9' sci-fi film
« Reply #25 on: September 06, 2009, 11:11:53 pm »
Ray, the superstitious things you reference in the film attributed to the Nigerians in District 9 seemed to me to be allusions to the absurd superstitious explanations for disease and cures for disease, such as for AIDS, in Africa; people without scientific or medical training are spreading outlandish folk "explanations" for what they are perceiving and experiencing.  Perhaps this was not the intent of the filmmakers, but that was what I immediately thought of when I saw the incantations, eating alien flesh to gain the alien's power, and the like.  I viewed this to be a social commentary, not a "racial" commentary.  Just as the revealing portrayal of the whites (and their black colleagues in the South African Establishment) constituted a social commentary on the Establishment. The portrayal of the whites (and their black colleagues) in the film was every bit as disturbing, and in some ways even more so, than the portrayal of the Nigerians, in unmasking the sham veneer of reasonableness that is in fact steeped in bigotry and bias (with the less educated soldiers portraying in more stark terms what it really meant). Many of the observations of the "commentators" in the film showed just how easy it is for educated people to kid themselves, if they wish to embrace bigoted self-delusion.

[SPOILER ALERT, but necessary in the context of Ray's comment, so don't read if you have not seen the movie]: Regarding the Official South African Media allegation that Nigerian women were engaged in prostitution with the Aliens (a very odd thought), I viewed that as a parody of the Media.  Query whether we are to take those charges seriously, or if we are to view them as another manifestation of the bigoted distortions disseminated by the South African Regime.  Because, recall, later in the film there is a photo displayed on national television of Wikus Van De Merwe allegedly having sex with an alien, with the Media disseminating a story that he was having repeated sex with the aliens and that this was the cause of his "disease."  These "Media Reports" were remarkably similar, and thus in the context of the storyline, probably equally false, given their source.  In other words, that this entire aspect of the film should be viewed through the lense of parody - of the biased Media.
« Last Edit: September 07, 2009, 06:58:36 am by michaelintp »

Offline KIP LEWIS

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Re: Racial Allegory in 'District 9' sci-fi film
« Reply #26 on: September 07, 2009, 06:50:28 am »
<<but I have yet to see the film where whites are portrayed as cannibals prostitutes and subservients, hmm why is that? >>

I don't think you intended that question the way it sounds, because there have been many movies with white prostitues. (Personally, I think I see more white prostitutes than black in police shows.)  Silence of the Lamb, and other movies have had white cannibals.  Horror movies have families and communities of white cannibals.  And white servants?  From Alfred in Batman to Upstairs-Downstairs to tons of movies have white servants or in the role of lower class. 

michaelintp

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Re: Racial Allegory in 'District 9' sci-fi film
« Reply #27 on: September 07, 2009, 10:21:47 am »
As I think about it ... really the entire film has to be viewed as a satire to understand where its coming from.  There is a sardonic humor to the whole thing.

Offline Emperorjones

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Re: Racial Allegory in 'District 9' sci-fi film
« Reply #28 on: September 07, 2009, 11:37:38 am »
<<but I have yet to see the film where whites are portrayed as cannibals prostitutes and subservients, hmm why is that? >>

I don't think you intended that question the way it sounds, because there have been many movies with white prostitues. (Personally, I think I see more white prostitutes than black in police shows.)  Silence of the Lamb, and other movies have had white cannibals.  Horror movies have families and communities of white cannibals.  And white servants?  From Alfred in Batman to Upstairs-Downstairs to tons of movies have white servants or in the role of lower class. 

True, but few or none of these disparate white portrayals have a whole history of racial stereotyping behind them like the stereotypes in D9 had for blacks. With the white portrayals, they could be written off as individual things and not endemic or indicative of an entire group of people. And usually these movies have a variety of white characters that counterbalance the negative or potentially negative portrayals. That's not often the case when blacks are portrayed this way. Heck, they made a whole prequel film to attempt to explain Hannibal Lector's cannibalism and he was made into a bad ass, anti-hero in the other films. The movies were often based around him and you got a multifaceted look at Hannibal. He was a monster that the audience actually could identify with and many cheered. Will the warlord from D9 get the same kind of treatment.

The funny thing about D9 is that it was a movie that had a supposedly strong message about intolerance that utilized stereotypes to help tell the story.

Offline voodoochild

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Re: Racial Allegory in 'District 9' sci-fi film
« Reply #29 on: September 07, 2009, 03:14:56 pm »
[SPOILER ALERT, but necessary in the context of Ray's comment, so don't read if you have not seen the movie]: Regarding the Official South African Media allegation that Nigerian women were engaged in prostitution with the Aliens (a very odd thought), I viewed that as a parody of the Media.  Query whether we are to take those charges seriously, or if we are to view them as another manifestation of the bigoted distortions disseminated by the South African Regime.  Because, recall, later in the film there is a photo displayed on national television of Wikus Van De Merwe allegedly having sex with an alien, with the Media disseminating a story that he was having repeated sex with the aliens and that this was the cause of his "disease."  These "Media Reports" were remarkably similar, and thus in the context of the storyline, probably equally false, given their source.  In other words, that this entire aspect of the film should be viewed through the lense of parody - of the biased Media.

I was thinking this exact same thing.  I'm not even really sure any of the aliens had compatible genitalia with humans.

People keep talking about negative stereotypes and images...this is a film where the lead character is a middle management coward and racist(species-ist?).  He has no honor and thinks nothing of killing the offspring of the prawns if that's what his job requires of him.  He spends most of the movie performing selfish acts.  The only reason he helps Christopher and son is because they promised to cure him. No one gets away unblemished in this film.