Saturday, February 12, 2011

Perspectives in District 9

While I appreciate the social commentary that is very obviously being made in District 9, I am hung up on how anthropocentric this blockbuster was. As previous posts have been pointing out, there is definitely an allusion towards the racism and discrimination that exists in our society to this day, specifically calling forth the recent era of apartheid in South Africa. This was especially interesting because of how up-to-date the movie made a point of being... it featured current-day technologies and social situations that really recall the 21st century and the extent to which people are used to living with advanced technology. At times using a mockumentary style of filming, the director seemed very interested in having the events of this movie feel as close-to-home as possible for the viewer while incorporating one of our greatest fears, alien invasion on Earth. I think the use of very current social settings and technologies, as well as the portrayal of the discrimination we still grapple so much with, allowed this film to feel just "real" enough for the viewer to that that eerie unsettled feeling that this scenario represents a possibility on any given day in their own life.
However, while I would have been pretty dragged into the movie for those features, I couldn't help but continue to notice how, aside from the modern-day perspectives employed, the film was a bit too anthropocentric. I feel like in this day and age, science has started to understand that there are myriad possibilities for the way things could be, regarding lifeforms we haven't researched, etc., and things we cannot even begin to conceive of. That's why I was surprised to see the aliens take on such human-like behavior and characteristics. It seems to me that older films, first portraying aliens, had the excuse of zero precedential images, except human form, on which to base our idea of alien life. Therefore, I would expect most contemporary films to try to portray a less predictable, more imaginative form of alien life that doesn't so closely resemble a human, both physically and in its instincts and behaviors. I just think it is too unlikely, especially for a film that makes such a point of trying to make this occurrence as realistic as possible. I think the fact that the director took such an anthropocentric view on alien life speaks further on our inability to understand and appreciate differences in others. Really, the anthropocentric view towards alien life in District 9 adds to the commentary on racism and discrimination, as our societal fear of the "other" is still evident in our inability to imagine life forms of intelligence that don't look and act like humans. The aliens in District 9 were human enough for the humans to interact with, but different enough for humans to fear and justify controlling and oppressing the alien population.

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