Monday, February 14, 2011

Distict 9's Social Critic

I saw District 9 in theaters when it came out and reviewed it this week. The same encompassing thought that dictated my viewing in theaters came back during my review. District 9 serves as a social critic on the segregation of races and the poor treatment by those in power. The first clue that this film serves as a social critic is the setting. Johannesburg, South Africa is one of the most infamous cities in the world for the social injustice by white settlers on black natives. The apartheid in South Africa lasted well into the 1990's, and effects of this history are still seen today. The South Africa depicted in District 9 is an apartheid one, albeit with different subjects. Perhaps a commenter can help my theory, because it has one gaping hole. If the director/writer wanted to draw parallels to historic South Africa, why make the settlers, in this case the aliens, those held in apartheid? It does not hold a true representation of the past in South Africa. Other examples of this social critic include the derogatory naming of the aliens, how they scavenge for trash, and their inability to read English. I can't help but notice as well the treatment for aliens by both the black and white characters in the movie. Perhaps this is a comment on how any group/race/ethnicity will control and poorly treat those beneath them in the social order.

1 comment:

  1. Perhaps the idea was to demonstrate that segregation is segregation, no matter if it is chosen or forced. Being trapped on the inside or the outside of the gates is still the same effect, a community is restrained by a wall, groups are being forced to live in a specific location. Yes in South Africa’s past the whites, the minority yet ruling group, were kept in “the district”. In the film again the minority is placed in “the district”, yet this time the minority does not have the control. This switch leads to the similarities between the ghettos created by the Nazis and the camps created by the US government both during WWII. The “districts” were both created to contain a group different from the “ruling” party. I saw this melding of historic events and terms to describe District 9 as an effort to lead the viewer to see the film on multiple levels and question what they are being shown. Viewers seem to easily understand and accept the segregation and wrong treatment of the aliens but fewer people seem concerned with the depiction and treatment of the Nigerians (contained to the film). In the film it seemed that some characters gained a greater understanding of the aliens yet this same understanding was not developed towards the Nigerians. I think the confusion leads the viewer to question the role of the Nigerians, a role that still confuses me. The Nigerians seem to serve as the human form of discrimination and misunderstanding from the ruling party towards a different group. They are depicted as a group openly taking advantage of the aliens yet we have to remember as viewers that the mock-documentary would have been created by the same people who at one time experimented on aliens to try and gain technology. Thus we should question the depiction of the Nigerians in the film and think that it could be similar to the same depiction the government tried to use of the aliens to keep the group oppressed.