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Author Topic: District 9  (Read 18191 times)

Chesire Cat

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Re: District 9
« Reply #50 on: 01 Sep 2009, 12:52 »

In a way, and that's kind of what annoyed me. They didn't have to be aliens. The movie could have been about District 6, and still been the same movie. An alien movie should show some difference.

I beg to differ, I think they *had* to be aliens. You guys seems to be under the impression the general public is well versed in the apartheid, and quiet frankly you are absolutely wrong. By using aliens as placeholders it lets Joe Plumber experience and enjoy the film and accidentally get some understanding of the situation. Then maybe as everyone is happily walking out of the theatre, he will hear that apartheid word he doesn't know again and decided to learn a little more about it.

Standalone with absolutely no historical backdrop to work off of, this is an excellent movie, and the racism was played very well in terms of the little thing. Once again I will go back to the Chris's child and Wikus sitting in the spaceship, where he point at his own arm then at Wikus and says "like me". That kind of enlightenment actually happens, but the reality of life in many African countries and middle eastern, is much of the strife comes from people believing they are different from each-other. Much of it isnt even about different truly different races but about different clans or sects of religion but it all generally plays out the same.

Think about Sunni vs. Shi'ite Muslims or the Tutsi vs. Hutu in Rwanda or naturally the Whites vs. Blacks in South Africa.
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Iguana Baritone

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Re: District 9
« Reply #51 on: 02 Sep 2009, 05:05 »

I beg to differ, I think they *had* to be aliens. You guys seems to be under the impression the general public is well versed in the apartheid, and quiet frankly you are absolutely wrong. By using aliens as placeholders it lets Joe Plumber experience and enjoy the film and accidentally get some understanding of the situation. Then maybe as everyone is happily walking out of the theatre, he will hear that apartheid word he doesn't know again and decided to learn a little more about it.
I don't really get the point you're trying to make. Are we supposed to have sympathised with the aliens in a way that we wouldn't for humans? The only alien I felt any sympathy for at all was Christopher, and even he was a little on the annoying side.
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Chesire Cat

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Re: District 9
« Reply #52 on: 02 Sep 2009, 09:07 »

What I am saying is you can extend the viewing audience, and as such the message, by hiding a highly political movie in a sci-fi action film with explosions and fun.
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variable_star

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Re: District 9
« Reply #53 on: 03 Sep 2009, 10:43 »

I can think of quite a few movies where humans are the invaders/oppressors actually. The films don't always purposefully portray it as such, but there are plenty on both sides of the fence.

Awesome, do tell. I might be interested in seeing some of those.

For starters, Starship Troopers.

That's a bit borderline, isn't it? Granted, it's been awhile since I've seen the film, but I recall both the humans and the aliens were pointlessly hostile. The theme of the piece seemed to be that the humans were just as vile as the aliens. I did a bit of checking on my own and found the two films D9 is most compared to are "Alien Nation" and "Enemy Mine", so I've got both of those on my list. I suppose three films can be considered "quite a few" if you take the expression at its most literal interpretation, but maybe ackblom12 can suggest a few more.

My complaints: I had a hard time believing the aliens had all that weaponry and never defended themselves.

The film is never quite clear on this. One nameless prawn is seen firing a weapon into the air, but the only prawn who actually uses alien weaponry in combat is Christopher. It's not because their access is entirely restricted either, because it's made clear (when a couple of prawns trade the pseudo-mechwarrior machine for cat food) that some still own alien weapons. Of course, the film does mention that the overwhelming majority of the aliens appear to be worker drones. They're good at taking orders, but lack initiative entirely, probably because their leadership died off as a result of disease.

Still, I'm unable to reconcile that with the fact that many prawns are seen wielding human weaponry (one is seen in a helmet and AK-47, another is seen in a pink bra and a shovel, etc.) I can only surmise that they're engaging in random acts of violence, which certainly doesn't require initiative. Christopher appeared to be the only one with any leadership qualities, as even his assistant lacked notable intelligence, considering he was one-upped by a child in his first scene. Here's hoping there will be an extended cut on blu-ray that will shed a bit more light on things like this.
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Lise

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Re: District 9
« Reply #54 on: 03 Sep 2009, 11:56 »

I don't know, I interpreted that one alien wearing human clothing and brandishing a human weapon as an attempt to appear well... more human, even though he is clearly a "prawn." I could be wrong of course, it could've been done in mockery or for no particular reason at all.

And variable_star, as for your complaint that no one has produced a list of movies so far that exhibit humans as the oppressors rather than the oppressed, I did a quick search and found this great article:

The Best of Science Fiction's Oppressed Species. It includes some obvious examples where stranded aliens are forced into human slavery (ex. Alien Nation, which you already mentioned) and less obvious examples where the humans have artificially created creatures to serve as a workforce and they rebel (ex. Cylons in Battlestar Galactica or the Exosapiens in Exosquad). Even the mutants in X-men, though they resemble humans and not the traditional "alien," have to fight for their civil rights.

So there you have it, a handful of significant movies where humans aren't the most dignified race. As for upcoming movies that focus on this relationship between humans/aliens, how about James Cameron's Avatar?? (encroaching on another planet in blatant search for materials, which results in violence consequences).
« Last Edit: 03 Sep 2009, 12:05 by Lise »
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Ozymandias

Re: District 9
« Reply #55 on: 03 Sep 2009, 12:00 »

Actually, Blomkamp answered that in a FAQ somewhere.

The way their species is laid out is sort of like an insect colony. There's a "royal family" that gives orders and binds them together in a sort of low level hivemind. The reason the mothership came to Earth was because the royals controlling that ship (it was an exploration and mining vessel) got infected by a disease and died off. The ship then went into autopilot and flew to the nearest habitable planet to deposit the drones, disconnecting the control module so that they will stay put and not put themselves in danger by attempting to fly the ship. Without leadership, however, they were listless, disorganized, and somewhat less intelligent.

Eventually, however, temporary leadership can come from a particularly intelligent drone- Christopher. These drones would usually be subservient in a complete prawn society, but take control if the royals are dead, then proceed to rebuild their society, eventually causing a new royal to be born and take command.
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Re: District 9
« Reply #56 on: 03 Sep 2009, 12:35 »

I'm not sure if this is the one you are talking about specifically, but here is an interview with him. He covers some of those points towards the middle/end.
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Re: District 9
« Reply #57 on: 03 Sep 2009, 13:33 »

Speciesm, guys, not racism.

All-in-all, I thought it was a fantastic movie. Nothing I could say about it hasn't already been said in this thread, so I'll leave it at that.
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Chesire Cat

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Re: District 9
« Reply #58 on: 03 Sep 2009, 14:01 »

Ok fine, speciesism is an allegory for racism in this movie.

Did you have any other semantics you would like to discuss? No? I thought not.
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Johnny C

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Re: District 9
« Reply #59 on: 03 Sep 2009, 14:50 »

was there any need to be hostile dude
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Re: District 9
« Reply #60 on: 03 Sep 2009, 14:53 »

I liked this movie quite a bit but I was a bit caught off guard at just how violent it was! Not that it was a bad thing, I just didn't expect going in to see guys exploding into bloody paste once every 10 minutes for the second half of the movie.
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Re: District 9
« Reply #61 on: 03 Sep 2009, 14:56 »

I don't know, I interpreted that one alien wearing human clothing and brandishing a human weapon as an attempt to appear well... more human, even though he is clearly a "prawn." I could be wrong of course, it could've been done in mockery or for no particular reason at all.

And variable_star, as for your complaint that no one has produced a list of movies so far that exhibit humans as the oppressors rather than the oppressed, I did a quick search and found this great article:

The Best of Science Fiction's Oppressed Species. It includes some obvious examples where stranded aliens are forced into human slavery (ex. Alien Nation, which you already mentioned) and less obvious examples where the humans have artificially created creatures to serve as a workforce and they rebel (ex. Cylons in Battlestar Galactica or the Exosapiens in Exosquad). Even the mutants in X-men, though they resemble humans and not the traditional "alien," have to fight for their civil rights.

So there you have it, a handful of significant movies where humans aren't the most dignified race. As for upcoming movies that focus on this relationship between humans/aliens, how about James Cameron's Avatar?? (encroaching on another planet in blatant search for materials, which results in violence consequences).

Again, those are all really quite borderline. I was looking for films that specifically cast humans as the aggressors/oppressors and aliens as the innocents/oppressed. In BSG, the cylons prove themselves to be much worse than humanity in the end and many of the X-Men prove to be just as evil as the humans who oppose them. They certainly share some similar themes, but ultimately they're much too divergent in their respective narratives to directly compare with D9.
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Lise

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Re: District 9
« Reply #62 on: 03 Sep 2009, 15:00 »

There wasn't a need to be hostile Johnny C, but it is kind of anal/irrelevant insisting that "Speciesism" be used instead of "racism" in District 9, when the "alien species" is clearly a metaphor for a particular "race."

The point is, you can use the two terms interchangeably in discussion of D9 and we'd still get your point. It doesn't matter.

PS: variable_star, I don't see how "compulsory alien servitude" in the movies the io9 article listed doesn't illustrate a human oppressor/alien innocent relationship to you. I think by being overly critical, you're missing out on watching some really worthwhile sci-fi. If you're looking for a rehash of D9, I don't have any further suggestions for you. Just because a downtrodden species decides to rebel (in a violent fashion) against its captors doesn't necessarily change the fact that they were originally persecuted or exploited. To compare this concept to a recent film (say, Inglourious Basterds), did the actions of the Basterds or Shosanna in retaliating against the Nazis somehow undermine the fact that millions of Jews suffered? I don't think so.

If you ask me, alien-human relationships (hypothetically speaking) would never be so black-and-white. Even in D9, the aliens aren't completely blameless (for example, the scene at the end when a group of Prawns rips a MNU soldier apart), though there are definite situations where humans are reprehensible (such as when Wikus is forced to shoot a captured Prawn in the science lab). Yes, the aliens were cruelly treated, yes, it was the fault of the humans, but the Prawns are not harmless creatures, either. IMO, a movie dealing with a human oppressor/alien innocent relationship wouldn't be as interesting if the aliens were fragile, defenseless creatures incapable of fighting back.

« Last Edit: 03 Sep 2009, 15:31 by Lise »
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Re: District 9
« Reply #63 on: 04 Sep 2009, 13:22 »

Damn, lots of deep commentary going on.  And of course some sniping and griping, but that's to be expected.

I just wanted to say that I saw it and thought it was much better than I'd expected.  There was enough sci-fi to make it interesting (DNA- or bio-based tech is kinda neat) and the story was highly metaphorical but I didn't find it to be the horrible heavy-handed message that some people - not here - are making it out to be.  Maybe because I'm not as close to the issue as some.  Yes, I know what apartheid is, but I focused on Wikus' journey through it and experiences on both sides rather than getting all upset that someone was being allegorical with the human/prawn stuff.  Or is it metaphorical?  I'm not sure anymore.
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Re: District 9
« Reply #64 on: 12 Sep 2009, 20:31 »

The main problem I had with this film (other than finding the change from faux-documentary to action film a bit jarring at first) is that an allegorical portrayal of racism would probably be a little clearer if it didn't have "evil Nigerians" as a main part of the plot.
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Chesire Cat

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Re: District 9
« Reply #65 on: 12 Sep 2009, 20:40 »

As if you couldnt find 10 examples of 'evil nigerian' exploitation in Africa within the last 50 years. As bad as the rest of the world is at exploiting Africa, its pretty damn good at exploiting itself too.
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Re: District 9
« Reply #66 on: 12 Sep 2009, 20:56 »

Right. Go. Find me ten examples of "evil Nigerian" exploitation, please. Whatever the hell that's supposed to mean.

It's one thing to make the point that some Africans exploit other Africans. Fair enough. That's not the issue at hand, though. My point was that the Nigerian gang in the film would not have been out of place in a 60s Bond film. It struck me as being quite a racist protrayal, to be honest - "Look at these unsophisticated fools with their eating of body parts and what not, silly backward Nigerians."

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Alex C

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Re: District 9
« Reply #67 on: 12 Sep 2009, 21:37 »

Right. Go. Find me ten examples of "evil Nigerian" exploitation, please. Whatever the hell that's supposed to mean.

Well, the Niger Delta does actually have a pretty damn high violence rate because it's an area with corrupt local governments trying to control a ton of oil revenue. The New York Times likes to blame gangs, but these "gangs" aren't the quite the same animal that North Americans or Brits are likely to think of when we hear the term "gang" tossed about. Basically, the good ol' capitalists come in offering to buy resources and then the Nigerians get to fight over who can provide them (or who gets to keep the money for the job, at any rate). If you want to hire security to protect your operations in Nigeria, you have to make a deal with the locals and a lot of these locals are quite happy to fight over who gets the contract. So, really, the only part that hit me as over the top was the part about wanting to eat the dude's hand; a simple mercenary attitude would have been enough to get the point across.
« Last Edit: 12 Sep 2009, 21:50 by Alex C »
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Re: District 9
« Reply #68 on: 13 Sep 2009, 06:21 »

Oh yeah, I wouldn't for a second deny that there's a metric shit-ton of violence in Nigeria for economic reasons and so on, and in large parts of the rest of Africa as well. The "evil Nigerians" thing, though, is a bit more along the lines of the 'eating body parts' and generally being dicks for little reason (eg killing the prawn for body parts after they buy the deathsuit). The gang seemed to be  fairly one-dimensional evil rather than having the slightly more believable motivations of most of the other actors in the story (nasty soldier-man who likes watching prawns die being the exception.)
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Chesire Cat

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Re: District 9
« Reply #69 on: 13 Sep 2009, 09:58 »

Im more referring to warlords and tribes and such. A couple examples, Revolutionary United Front in Sierra Leone, the Hutu in Rwanda, pretty much every faction in DRC. and Somalia etc etc.

I didn't even really consider the whole eating alien flesh thing as being evil. I thought it was more an insane feeb wanting to walk. But lets face it, alot of the forces I mentioned arent strictly political, alot of them are clans and tribes who are lead by the tribal leader, as well as spiritual leaders hence the witchdoctor as the tribes are very often supersticious. This kind of thing (assuming we are going to follow the allegory and call eating aliens 'cannibalism') *does* happen.
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Johnny C

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Re: District 9
« Reply #70 on: 13 Sep 2009, 11:19 »

The scientists were just as bad as the witch doctors.

Yeah I think this is probably the most accurate reading of it. The levels of sophistication are moot in the face of the identical ethics of the MNU and the Nigerian gangs. They're meant as moral parallels.

There are black people in the movie who are smart and aren't evil.
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Re: District 9
« Reply #71 on: 21 Sep 2009, 02:38 »

Just saw this finally, and I probably have more to say.

What struck me after thinking about it for a while is that the allegory isn't apartheid, it's the current situation with many of the refugee camps in Africa. You have the (generally) white do-gooders who hand out food and really hope they can make things better, but still probably end up thinking "why can't these people just get their acts together" mixed with the local warlords who see the masses of helpless people as either a source of their powerbase (stealing kids to be their soldiers), or as just somebody they can rule over with intimidation and fear.

While the first group in real life doesn't have the lure of the alien technology in this parallel, what they do have behind them are governments who see the disposition of these refugees as a matter of larger global issues that can be exploited. Whether it's China buying oil concessions to whoever has control over that piece of land that day, or western powers putting pressure on the local government to "clean out" the camps where terrorists recruit and train. Working towards an actual solution starts to fade into a secondary goal at best, and in some cases a real solution runs counter to the interests of both internal and external groups.

So it's really talking about the dehumanizing of the refugees in various parts of Africa (and the world), much more than racism. Even the "solution" parallels a lot of what happens in the real world, we don't fix the problem, we just occasionally upgrade the camps from squalid to cesspit, shuffle people around a bit, and expect the local government to handle all of it on top of caring for their own people.

EDIT: Oh, and I have a theory that explains everything about the prawns: The ship was an interstellar football fan charter.
« Last Edit: 21 Sep 2009, 08:22 by Jimor »
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Re: District 9
« Reply #72 on: 21 Sep 2009, 09:59 »

Wow, that sounds pretty good to me.  Even the bit about them originally being on an interstellar charter bus.  It broke down in some crappy neighborhood somewhere, and look what happened.

Unfortunately for me I guess, I'm not very familiar with what's going on in Africa, or South Africa (which I realize is part of Africa but definitely has its own identity and its own issues) so I don't know how well your analogy works.  But it's refreshing to hear an interpretation other than "it's supposed to be apartheid but a lot of the details are wrong/skewed".  If it's not supposed to be apartheid in the first place, that argument goes out the window.
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Re: District 9
« Reply #73 on: 21 Sep 2009, 14:44 »

Storyline question (POSSIBLE SPOILERS):

How did Wikus escape from the testing facility? I had the same reaction to this movie as Cloverfield and left for the bathroom during the gun-testing bit and returned to see Wikus outside.
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Re: District 9
« Reply #74 on: 21 Sep 2009, 15:25 »

"it's supposed to be apartheid but a lot of the details are wrong/skewed". 

Neill Blomkamp has said outright that he meant it as an allegory for apartheid.
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Re: District 9
« Reply #75 on: 21 Sep 2009, 15:30 »

Quote
The plight of the film’s crustaceanlike extraterrestrials can be easily read as a metaphor for the persecution of South African blacks under apartheid. But Mr. Blomkamp said he was also trying to comment on how the country’s impoverished peoples oppress one another. While “District 9” was being filmed in the Chiawelo section of Soweto, Alexandra and other townships were ravaged by outbursts of xenophobic violence perpetrated by indigenous South Africans upon illegal immigrants from Zimbabwe, Malawi and elsewhere.[1]
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