August 7, 2009

EARLY REVIEW: DISTRICT 9



DISTRICT 9 just isn't as deep as it would like to be. It's been done with more intelligence and just plain better before (ALIEN NATION, BROTHER FROM ANOTHER PLANET).

The filmmaker, Neill Blomkamp's heart was in the right place, but he didn't quite grasp his own topic. Because of that, DISTRICT 9's take on issues of xenophobia and race has a perspective and frame that is itself laden with those very issues.

Basically, it's a 'RACE MOVIE' with the same clichés I spoke about in this post on both the alien and human front.

It's all there, from the moaning soundtrack, the hammering home of "THIS IS BAD AND THESE ARE BAD THINGS BEING DONE!!1!!" to the presence of Mighty Whitey. Yup, he's even in the allegorical race movie, you guys.

Based on these real-life events, it's somewhat told in faux-documentary style from the perspective of a white man working for a South African government relocation program.

A camera follows him around while he and others attempt to forcibly evict relocate the alien population out of Johannesburg and into a concentration camp.

Said white man goes in treating all of the aliens like garbage, until(!) *he* gets sprayed with alien goo and starts mutating into one of them. Then he is treated *gasp!* JUST LIKE THEM and slowly comes to realize THE ERROR OF HIS WAYS.

He goes on to rescue two ~*extra-speshul*~ aliens (a father and son pair) by doing stuff, the rest of the horde never even thought of (like using advanced weaponry ONLY THE ALIENS CAN USE)...

AND DON'T EVEN GET ME STARTED ON THE REST OF THE ALIEN HORDE *gullible, stumbling, bumbling, idiots who would sell their souls for cat food and piss where they eat for audience LOL's*

It's a real shame too, because the aliens, even when seen through the writer's majorly-flawed lens, were the most interesting thing about this movie.

I would much rather have seen the story from their point of view.


Subtle.
...And the real-live black people in the movie?? You know, the ones Blomkamp is basing his alien population on?

Ooga-booga negroes who think *eating* the aliens will somehow give them their ~*magic*~, gun-toting gangstas, hos, and yes, we even have a barely-there sidekick who is repeatedly called 'boy'.

He might have been trying to be ~*edgy*~ironic when he did this, which seems to be all the rage these days, but I'm not feeling that when those attempting it, don't grasp the subject themselves. You can't say anything to the populace about race and still be in remedial classes yourself.

Even if you were to put aside the righteous racefail, the movie's plot is dumb and full of holes. We're supposed to believe not *one* alien managed to do in over twenty years, what Mighty Whitey did in seventy-four hours.

The only things the writer manages entertainment-wise are a few bits of easy gratuitous violence, satisfying in the same way Mortal Kombat was when you were thirteen, a few limp, bad-taste-laughs, and a very predictable plothole-filled story-arc.

Despite all of this, I might recommend it for a rental if you're curious. It's a failure to me, but it's an interesting failure in that it's the same way Hollywood (and larger society) often fails on race.

Good intentions mean nothing, if you don't empathize enough to stop making it about you. Blomkamp used DISTRICT 9 to tell other people's story using himself, instead of just stepping back to tell *their* story.

The effects and details which are unobtrusively good, are also on the plus-side.

So, there's that.

I have to say, the preview audience seemed to love it. There was applause at the end, but given that G-FORCE was the #1 movie last week, take that as you will.


If you thought CRASH was a brilliant exploration of racism in this country *psst! it's not!*, then you'll probably love this.


PARENTS: It's R-rated for a reason. It's not for the kiddies. It's bloody and there's a cross-species sex-gag.


P.S. Sorry, I failed y'all and didn't deliver an evisceration of Transformers 2: Electric Jiggaboo. Thankfully, I think everyone else pretty much pointed out all the race and sexfail, anyway.

72 comments:

  1. "MIGHTY WHITEY!"

    ROFLMAO!!!!! And thank you for saving me $10 and a spike in blood pressure.

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  2. This is exactly what I suspect will be wrong with this film. All that you've said. I'll see it though. Gotta see it for myself, right? Sigh. At least it's a step in the right direction. I'm glad to see an SF film in Africa. But yep, character point of view seems to be the same 'ol same 'ol. It's like they just wanted to use the African SETTING.

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  3. @Nnedi

    I would love hear your opinion on it. And you are so right. Africa is ripe for more speculative films/fiction.

    I'd say District 9 is one step forward and a few steps back.

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  4. Anonymous4:34 AM

    @dcmoviegirl

    "Ooga-booga negroes who think *eating* the aliens will somehow give them their ~*magic*~..."

    Read this article I found: http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/world/africa/article4958549.ece

    I guess killing for body parts to be used in dated rituals is a minor problem in South Africa.

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  5. Anonymous12:00 PM

    Your review is pretty far off the mark. Seems you saw exactly what you wanted to see. First off, this was never meant to be a movie that makes some kind of profound social commenttary. The director is quoted as saying that, at most, the backdrop was an opportunity to provide some social and political satire, though the real aim was always to make a kickass hollywood action film.

    Also, and this is very important, the Nigerians in the movie are not meant to portray South African black people as a group. It's a very specific post-apartheid reference to the Nigerian gangs and druglords and crime kingpins that have set up shop in South Africa, like they have done all over the continent. Local black people hate these people as much as whites do, if not more, because they tend to prey more on the poor and innocent, and are violent and cruel. This has led to much of the xenophobia you mention early on in your review.

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  6. Anonymous4:58 PM

    Wow, thanks for making a bunch of people miss out on a brilliant film :/

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  7. Normally I'm right there with you but in this case I disagree. I loved District 9, and think that the issues you bring up(while somewhat relevant) don't detract from what is a wholly entertaining story. To me, the only reason to get upset over the depictions of the gang leader, who is the one who wants to eat the aliens, is to deny that people like them exist.Whether we like it or not, there are people out there in those parts who practice arts and religions that we would think is silly(hey, Sarah Palin had a witch-doctor for chrissakes). And the "bumbling" prawns that were too stupid to use their own advanced weaponry? What would've been the point? The only reason it was used in this circumstance was to get what they needed to leave, not to wage war, so it's not as if it was a plot point that was somehow overlooked. I know what Blomkamp was going for, and that was a sci-fi film with echoes of a real life situation he has been making films about for years...but that's all it is. Like the best sci-fi, the social commentary is just a part of the experience but it's not the entire experience. It doesn't need to tell a perfect message. It needs to be entertaining, and make it's one larger point. I think it does that successfully.

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  8. @Anonymous

    Yeah, I know. I also know the gangsters are Nigerian.

    I also know that cannibalism is not culturally exclusive nor seen as a normal practice by either society, right now.

    I also know that the overwhelming negativity in portraying black people in this film (NOT one regular decent human being among them, except the 'boy') was still pretty messed up.

    Thanks, for the comment.

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  9. @Trav

    I agree with your point about and good and bad people existing, but the problem with Hollywood has always has been balance.

    When you depict one group of people overwhelmingly one way, there's a problem. When you use one group of people for inspiration for your allegory and then get the real people wrong, that's a problem.

    As for the plot point? It still makes little sense to me. It was demonstrated in the movie that this race had feelings, desires for themselves and their loved ones. I would see that as being enough motivation to pick up their own weaponry to use.

    As for the entertainment value? You and I disagree about that too. It was far too predictable for me with way too many cliches used.

    So, like I said, even if you take away the other issues I had with it, it still would have gotten the same review.

    Thanks, though. :)

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  10. "Wow, thanks for making a bunch of people miss out on a brilliant film :/"

    I do not have that kind of power. People make up their own minds. Mine is just one opinion.

    I'm glad you enjoyed it, though. :)

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  11. Anonymous7:14 PM

    As I was watching the movie, I had some similar questions as to why the aliens didn't use their weapons that "only they can use." Or, how come they didn't just band together and get what the want from the humans whether it be from the gangs or the local butchers that wouldn't give them an advance on food. But then I realized, we're too conditioned in seeing technologically-advanced or physically more powerful aliens slaughtering humans in movies. I realized this movie depicts stranded aliens that are just trying to survive. They live in a slum! Do people in the slums just naturally band together with other people that look like them to overthrow governments, gangs, food suppliers? Unless you were already in a gang or militia, likely not. If you're in the slum and you see another person causing trouble, trying to steal food, are you going to risk your own life doing the same and backing them up? Probably not. If you're in a slum and have an AK-47 or an RPG, are you going to use it against the authorities, or would you trade it for a decent supply of food for you and your children? Do we see anything beyond this kind of behavior in our real-world slums? Why should you expect anything different, because they're "aliens?" The aliens are disbanded and without a central leader. So none of them are going to want to do anything too drastic or significant on their own. At the most they would do things within the limits of a common slum/street gang. And that was touched upon in the movie.

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  12. @Anonymous

    Too many anonymouses! So, I have to quote you so you'll know who I mean:


    "Your review is pretty far off the mark. Seems you saw exactly what you wanted to see. First off, this was never meant to be a movie that makes some kind of profound social commenttary. The director is quoted as saying that, at most, the backdrop was an opportunity to provide some social and political satire, though the real aim was always to make a kickass hollywood action film.

    Also, and this is very important, the Nigerians in the movie are not meant to portray South African black people as a group. It's a very specific post-apartheid reference to the Nigerian gangs and druglords and crime kingpins that have set up shop in South Africa, like they have done all over the continent. Local black people hate these people as much as whites do, if not more, because they tend to prey more on the poor and innocent, and are violent and cruel. This has led to much of the xenophobia you mention early on in your review."




    Nobody wants to have a bad experience when they go to see movie and I'm definitely not the exception.

    I went in hopeful, but ultimately came out disappointed. The "wanting" thing is something people who bring up race hear a lot, sadly.

    It's an uncomfortable topic. And it puts up people's defenses. Talk about race = "OMG! YOU'RE A RACIST FOR BRINGING IT UP!1! or worse "IT'S BECAUSE YOU WANTED IT!!"

    Usually, it's a combination of the two.

    Like I said, I don't think the director is a bad person, I just think he's effected by the same ingrained biases we all have and it leaked out into his film.

    Just because you don't *mean* something to be, doesn't mean it's not problematic, as in this case.

    How South Africans see Nigerian druglords is irrelevant to my point, which is the fact that every black person in this film is a stereotype.

    In my opinion? In 2009? That's messed up.

    Thanks, for the comment. :)






    Now, I do want to point out that there have been other anonymous comments to this post, better examples of that knee-jerk reactions to "race" topics, I was talking about.

    They have not been published because they are "nasty" and "disrespectful."

    We can respectfully disagree, people.

    I know the movie has gotten overwhelmingly positive reviews and many people will enjoy it.

    More power to those people. :)

    But I'm hoping people who read my blog will consider another perspective.

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  13. @Anonymous


    "As I was watching the movie, I had some similar questions as to why the aliens didn't use their weapons that "only they can use." Or, how come they didn't just band together and get what the want from the humans whether it be from the gangs or the local butchers that wouldn't give them an advance on food. But then I realized, we're too conditioned in seeing technologically-advanced or physically more powerful aliens slaughtering humans in movies. I realized this movie depicts stranded aliens that are just trying to survive. They live in a slum! Do people in the slums just naturally band together with other people that look like them to overthrow governments, gangs, food suppliers? Unless you were already in a gang or militia, likely not. If you're in the slum and you see another person causing trouble, trying to steal food, are you going to risk your own life doing the same and backing them up? Probably not. If you're in a slum and have an AK-47 or an RPG, are you going to use it against the authorities, or would you trade it for a decent supply of food for you and your children? Do we see anything beyond this kind of behavior in our real-world slums? Why should you expect anything different, because they're "aliens?" The aliens are disbanded and without a central leader. So none of them are going to want to do anything too drastic or significant on their own. At the most they would do things within the limits of a common slum/street gang. And that was touched upon in the movie."


    ...Or you wait for one white man to come along to lead you.

    *shrug*

    This is an interesting point, but it also touches on one of my problems with the movie.

    These insect-like creatures who eat cat food, forage through the garbage, and are generally stupid without their queen...

    These creatures are supposed to be like people in slums.

    That's pretty messed up, in my opinion.

    I can't presume the behavior of any entire group of people...

    But I do think this movie does.

    We are all individuals, no matter where you come from.

    Thanks, for the comment.

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  14. Ugh. I'd heard this movie was bad, but wow. I didn't even know what this movie was about (too much fun in the Real World this summer to follow Hollywood :P). Now that I do, I seriously thank you for saving me the two hours I'd waste having the same slop served to me cold.

    I think it might be fun to read yet another impassioned rant about why Transformers 2 was so horribly awful just to see if it was as caffeine-crazed as mine was. Go ahead and swing at it if you had time.

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  15. @tragical

    Thanks. :)

    The director truly does mean well... And the effects are good, but the story, aside from the other heavier criticisms I have is also pretty predictable.

    I'd say Independence Day level without necessarily meaning to be that trite, you know?

    I knew exactly what would happen and it did.

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  16. Anonymous9:04 PM

    One point the movie was careful to make was that no race is perfect and above judgement.

    The way Africans were treated in SA by the Dutch was wrong and at the same Africans were not and are not perfect either. Africa was not a continent of inter-tribal peace and harmony before white colonials showed up.

    And there's nothing racist about saying that.

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  17. @Anonymous

    So, the movie eases white guilt?

    And there's nothing wrong with perpetuating tired old caricatures of black people?

    Nor with it being the 3,245,728,172th film wherein one white person is saving the "other"?

    I'll just say, I disagree.

    Thanks, for the comment.

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  18. The aliens are drone level creatures within a hive structure, without the guidance of more intelligent xenoforms the remaining hive mind is rendered listless. That is supposed to be the explanation for their inability to resist their treatment in any meaningful way similar to an ant colony with the idea centralized control(It's actually a very common theme within the mythos of various sci-fi universes). This fails to explain why joseph and his son are so much smarter than the other drones, likely something to do with containing dna from smarter leader organisms. Though this is somewhat vague most of the issues are addressed through the commentary during the movie.

    Honestly I'm not really sure what racial charactures you are talking about, the Nigerian gangs acted like Nigerian gangs would. If you're confronted by something that is inexplicable like say Aliens. You would consult the people you put the majority of your faith into. Sorry to burst any bubbles or anything, but for many Africans to this day those people remain witch doctors. Aside from the the Nigerian Gangers who else did you consider racial charactures if you had a problem with the way they spoke well deal with it those were south african accents. As far as the reoccuring term of, "mighty whitey" that you place in your analysis you might want to look in the mirror and check who the racist really is. The main character does next to everything wrong throughout the movie, if he hadn't confiscated the cilinder Joseph and his son would've activated the ship under the noses of the mnu before they would've had any chance of stopping them. Wickus is there to represent a flawed human being who makes mistakes and is then given the chance to rectify them(the structure upon which the movie is built), the movie doesn't really end on that much of a high note by the way, "mighty whitey" far from fixes everything.

    From what I gather your problem with the movie seems to be your inability to connect with a white protagonist in a movie set in south africa. At least in the movie the humans were able to set aside their differences to worry about the differences of aliens, not that that is much of an inprovement. Unfortunately you don't even seem to be able to get that far. your review furiously picks racial nits like something that would consider a coke can racist because the lettering is white instead of brown or a nice neutral shade of grey.

    Anyways this is just my opinion, but I actually think your review is far more harmful than the movie because it flares racial tension where none should exist.

    Whatever I'm fairly certain that this movie will be remembered as a classic so no harm done.

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  19. Anonymous11:44 PM

    I just watched the film and thought it was amazing. My friends disagreed with me saying the acting and the story sucked. I think that it's good that the movie acknowledges the corruptness of power and money. Plus, there's TONS of blood and explosives. It also reveals parts of human nature, how greed propels people to do stuff they normally wouldn't do.

    It seems people either loved the film, or thought it was horrible.

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  20. @joe

    The explanation for the hive mindset is irrelevant to the point of my criticism. That is that comparing a hive of insect-like aliens to black people from District 6, is pretty problematic.

    As for not knowing what racial caricatures are. There is google for that. I linked Mighty Whitey for you.

    My issue isn't with the depiction of bad black people. It's that there wasn't a counter-balance. And in a film that is an allegory for apartheid, there was not one black person in this film who was not a caricature.

    (I have to say, I let the "You're a racist for calling something racist" criticism slide, because despite being rude and well, look at it... The rest of your post was pretty benign.)

    Explanations for the main character's actions are also irrelevant to the points in my review.

    You gather that the problem seems to be my inability to connect with the white protagonist. No. My problem is the fact that a white protagonist in this kind of situation is a tired trope and lazy writing.

    The Last Samurai
    The Last of the Mohichans

    ...and so many more films in which "the other" is the backdrop showcase for a white protagonist. It's demonstrative of what we all tend to do. Tell the story we're best at, our own. Which in and of itself isn't a problem, but when applied in this fashion as often as it is in cinema?

    Yeah, it's a problem.

    The rest of that paragraph I won't even dignify with a response because the hyperbole is just odd.

    As for a different opinion being harmful?

    Once again, talking about race; pointing out problems with race = causing the racism(!) And that's a very bad thing.

    If we're all quiet about racism and pretend it doesn't exist, it will stop existing.

    Right. ;)

    As for being a classic?

    Well, everyone thought the same thing about Crash when it came out, but eventually that cooled after the hype died down and people really thought about it.

    I can't predict what will happen with this film. I don't wish the makers any ill-will, though.

    Thanks, for the comment. :)

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  21. @Anonymous

    It does seem to be polarizing. :) But hey different strokes.

    I'm glad you enjoyed it. And your friends criticisms are similar to my other less controversial thoughts.

    Blood's not my problem. I'm a horror geek. :) I LOVE blood, but this wasn't very creative on that front either. Too many moments felt like a bad video game.

    Thanks, for the comment.

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  22. Anonymous12:46 AM

    As someone married to a South African and quite well-versed in their culture, I think you missed some of the points. People really DO disappear to be chopped up in the name of "muti". Google muti murders, you'll find enough info to back that up as factual. It is an offshoot of sangomas (spiritual doctors, or the pejorative witch doctors) who practice versions of "traditional medicine." These sangomas are the same instigators who have made their patients believe that raping a virgin will cure them of AIDS. You don't want to know how young some of those poor virgins are. :( Don't underestimate the power these sangomas have over their constituents, and the muti they offer. It is an extremely notable cultural force.

    The term "boy" is also part of the culture and not specifically directed from a racial point of view but as an underling.

    I respect your review, but there is a LOT more to South African culture that you may well be missing. Lots of undertones in this movie. Even the phrase "One prawn, one bullet" uttered by Kobus towards the end is a POWERFUL phrase used by those who favor repatriating the farmlands (as has been done to drastic and murderous effect in Zimbabwe). In the case of those who would take the land back from white farmers by force, their Tagline (if you will) is "one settler, one bullet." Again, very deep resonance with the southern African culture, but something likely to be missed by the general American population.

    The movie, I believe quite honestly, is deeper than you have given it credit.

    Tot siens. (Google it...another phrase heard in the movie)

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  23. Anonymous1:05 AM

    First of all, the reason why none of the aliens did earlier what Wikus did with that machine is because there was no good reason for it. That one machine could not have ever stood up to the combined might of the human military, and would have attracted even more negative attention than they had already. The reason why he used it then is because the "fluid" that they needed to run their mothership had finally been synthesized after twenty years of painstaking work. Once the fluid was made, they could start the mothership and go home. That is why they didn't take action earlier. The response that Wikus took was meant to be a sacrifice in order to buy CJ (the main alien) enough time to get to the ship and get it started. This action could not have been taken earlier because there wasn't enough fluid.

    WATCH THE WHOLE MOVIE BEFORE YOU ACT SNARKY, OTHERWISE YOU WILL COME OFF AS A SNIDE MORON.

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  24. it's funny how these anon's are telling folks how africans really are or how south africans hate nigerians. or even know how nigerian gangs act.

    in south africa where the majority are black, where are they?

    some would rather put on blinders than recognize cliche tropes and offensive stereotyping, that's fine, no one's asking you to see a movie that uses the other as a metaphor, critically.



    mighty whitey indeed http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/MightyWhitey

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  25. Anonymous2:11 AM

    Forgot to mention....even the surname van de Merwe will ring a note to South Africans. Van de Merwe is more than just a surname, it's a symbolic entity for the one who is always the butt of the joke. LOTS of vd Merwe jokes in South African lore, especially from an Afrikaans perspective.

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  26. @Anonymous

    "As someone married to a South African and quite well-versed in their culture..."

    Thanks, for the additional details!

    No, I didn't miss those points, they're just irrelevant to my own.

    The interpretation of 'boy', may need reconsidering, though. In the U.S. the term has a loaded racial history. If it's slang that grown men of all colors use for each other, even cross-racially?

    A term of familiarity?

    Then, my bad.

    That particular character's lack of fleshing out is still sadly typical.

    I do link a little further up in the comments, addressing the whole cannibal thing. The points made then, still apply.

    As for the cultural information? Again, most of it, though interesting, has nothing to do with what I said.

    And it's second-hand, from one other source.

    That doesn't make anyone an expert on culture and definitely does not prove that it applies across the board (behaviors hardly ever do).

    Even if *you* were South African, you couldn't speak for them all.

    And no. I still don't think it was as deep as it would like to be.

    It would be like making a hip-hop movie, getting all the terms and details right, but portraying every actual member of the culture as violent gangsters, prostitutes, and drug dealers.

    ...And then, of course, we throw in one main white star to be the best EVER at all the elements, and to save the two special members of the neighborhood/community center/whatever.

    Not as deep as this movie?

    That *is* this movie, in another setting and genre.

    I appreciate the comment, though.

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  27. Anonymous10:51 AM

    This comment could have gone in any number of directions, but I'd like to focus on one thing at a time so we're sure to understand each other and not miss anything.

    How, exactly, was Wikus an example of Mighty Whitey?

    Please, please don't just tell me to Google it or click on the link above, which I already did. I'm failing to see what Wikus did that the aliens were unable to do for themselves. Did he free them? No. Did he save them from going to D10? No. In the end, did he make the situation better for any alien than it would have been without his showing up in the first place? No.

    So what gives?

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  28. Anonymous1:27 PM

    There are little things about your review that utterly destabilize your credibility. For one, your criticism of "boy" is a fundamental demonstration of your inability to see outside of the 2-dimensional American race dichotomy. Plenty of other cultures use "boy" and it does not at all have the same undertones as how it can be used in America. But let's get to the meat of the criticism...

    Let's start with your usage of the trope, "Mighty Whitey." First, you used it wrong. In your haste to see nothing but racism, you completely missed the inherent criticism loaded in the character of Wikus. Wikus is a conformist, a low-level bureaucrat/middle-management-type, whose weak trembling smile is indicative of a man eager to please but too cowardly to stand up for himself. He casually aborts prawn children, evicts aliens and thinking that getting their signature first is the correct and peaceful route, which is another glaring criticism/dark humor of the movie towards the white bureaucrats who allow atrocity to occur. There was nothing noble or good or even sentimental about Wikus until the end of the movie. You criticize this aspect of his character as well, as if it is some kind of terrible stereotype that when he starts to mutate and become like them, he sees the error of his ways (it's called character development). But even when he's halfway alien, he still acts selfishly human, willing to put himself before the cause of Christopher, such as when he knocks Christopher out because he doesn't want to wait three years to have his condition fixed. Even when Christopher explains that his own people take priority, even after Wikus saw the medical experiments with his own eyes, he still selfishly acted in his own interest. The movie makes this pretty clear.

    I suspect you didn't actually watch the movie. Your racial criticisms are superficial and you relied on your preconceived assumptions about the world so you wouldn't have to rethink and analyze how another culture might be approaching their own race issues.

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  29. hey i just came over here from angry black womanan i just wanted to thank you for responding to folks with such aplomb. loving the reviews, although sad to hear this movie might be a big ol Fail.

    if i remember, will report back with my findings after i see it! and RSSing ya.

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  30. Thanks on helping me save money. Even more so since this movie is very likely goin' piss me off with its skanky issues that make it unenjoyable.

    Condolences for having to put up with the flack from anonymous chumps that need a clue-by-four.

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  31. OK, where do I begin.

    1. Neil Blomkamp and all the actors are South African, so throw out any ideas about race relations that you know from your experience in America. If it appears that every black man or woman interviewed is stupid and xenophobic (which is not true, there are clearly two very intelligent black men who work for MNU, one of whom is revealed to have exposed MNU's corruption and misdeeds, and is therefore a rather tragic hero), it is because they are poor, uneducated, and used to their isolated lives, not because they are black.

    2. In this case I don't see how the concept of “Mighty Whitey” (which is hardly true in today’s cinema) is even applicable, because the WHITE people who run MNU and their soldiers are worse than the Nigerians; they almost murder a man and harvest his organs ALIVE just for the purpose of making money! I would also say that Wikus is the same way through almost the entire movie; from the very beginning, he condescends to every alien, aborts several crying, unborn aliens with a huge smile on his face, and only wants Christopher and his son's help so that he can get back to "normal" and get back to his self-obsessed wife. It's only at the very end, when he sees how much Christopher is willing to sacrifice for him, although Wikus has been a total asshole to him throughout the entire movie, that he becomes unselfish and defeats the gangs and the MNU soldiers while sacrificing his life.

    3. Does Wikus actually become treated "JUST LIKE ONE OF THEM!!1!1!!!!!", as you said, when he begins to become one of the aliens? He is not at all. Every single alien avoids him, and Wikus has to basically beg before Christopher even allows him to hide in his shack.

    4. As far as your so-called, massive "plot holes," it's pretty clearly established that almost all of these aliens were never trained with any of the technology or weapons, which also explains why they never bothered to fix their ship. They are also stuck in the slums, where they have to fight to survive while being taken advantage of, and also because there is no mass communication, no one alien can get these aliens together to overcome the government or MNU. Blomkamp also cleverly reveals how that ship got under Christopher's shack. He didn't build it, it fell from the mothership, and Christopher just hid it!

    I could go even further, because it angers me that anyone could argue that their closed-minded, ignorant, ethnocentric viewpoint on a film is the ONLY right opinion. I could also have pointed out how scattershot your criticisms are, and only amount to the main plot, or how poorly-written and melodramatic this excuse for a review is, or how little research you actually did. I won't, although I don't doubt that you tried to like this movie, because what would have been the point in seeing it, let alone review it? I just think you saw what you have wanted to see; evidence that Hollywood (where this WASN'T made) hates black people. You couldn't have seen how engaging the plot was, even if it seemed predictable (not every movie has to be fucking "Eraserhead"), or how great the performances are from every actor, or how absolutely gorgeous the effects and action are (Did you know that this film had a 30 MILLION DOLLAR budget? You would have if you had done research), or how Blomkamp shows how humanity IN GENERAL is corrupt and flawed, even the protagonist.

    P.S. I certainly don't think I was vague, and if I was "nasty" or "disrespectful," it's because you were to the makers of this film, who poured years of their lives into telling a heartfelt film, by dismissing their efforts by saying that "those stupid white people don't know shit" (I'm paraphrasing, but that's pretty much what you meant), when they have whole LIFETIMES of personal, first-hand knowledge about this subject, and you have very little second-hand knowledge about it. By the way, don't call me an example of "white racism." Guess what, I'm biracial.

    ReplyDelete
  32. I don't see what's so Mighty about Wilkus. He's just as vile a character as the SA mercenary, until what? the last five minutes when he turns around and saves the one alien?

    He does everything wrong, his only motive for helping out Chris the Alien is so Chris can save HIM from turning into- an alien. So...no, I don't think this is another story of a white man saving the day. He fucks everything up! Missed the mark on this review, here's mine: http://heatherleilamoz.blogspot.com/2009/08/alive-in-joburg-district-9.html

    ReplyDelete
  33. @dave

    Thanks. :)

    I am thankful for comment moderation.

    ReplyDelete
  34. One of my main problems with your objection to the "negative caricature of all black people" is that there are a lot of pretty negatively portrayed white people, too. Executives at MNU, the movie's main villain, and even the main character himself at several points in the movie. The only character that could, without a doubt, be considered good, is Christopher Johnson.

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  35. @Juan

    Thank you. :)

    When anonymous and online, people feel entitled to say all kinds of things they would never have the courage to say in real life.

    And nothing angers people more than criticizing a film they like. *shrug*

    Be critical of issues having to do with race and you're REALLY in for it.

    For those who have other comments in the que?

    I would appreciate you scrolling through to *read* the comments I have already made, making certain that I haven't addressed your points already.

    If you don't repeat what I have already addressed and you follow my little preface (not being vague, nasty, disrespectful...), I will happily respond.

    And to clarify, I mean using insults, racial epithets and slurs (self-explanatory and woefully unoriginal), accusations of wanting to see racism (I've addressed that twice, people...scroll), and wondering what "Mighty Whitey" is.

    That link is pretty thorough.

    Read and think before you post.

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  36. @Heather

    "I don't see what's so Mighty about Wilkus. He's just as vile a character as the SA mercenary, until what? the last five minutes when he turns around and saves the one alien?

    He does everything wrong, his only motive for helping out Chris the Alien is so Chris can save HIM from turning into- an alien. So...no, I don't think this is another story of a white man saving the day. He fucks everything up! Missed the mark on this review, here's mine: http://heatherleilamoz.blogspot.com/2009/08/alive-in-joburg-district-9.html


    I've bolded the relevant quote. ...That and he did save those two aliens.

    That's what makes him Mighty Whitey.

    Thanks.

    I hope you get some traffic for your blog!

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  37. I thought I'd slip one through so you'll know why I used the preface...

    @Mike

    1. Their country of origin doesn't automatically exempt them from being able to do icky, problematic things with race.


    2. "...hardly true in today's cinema". That's a false statement. I've provided a pair of recent examples further up the thread. A simple search will give you many, many more recent examples.


    3. Being shunned by his family and friends, having to forage for necessities, being treated like an object by the government (i.e. the scene where he almost gets dissected alive); this is what I was referring to.


    4. Was he truly the *only* alien in the slum who scavenged for technology and mutating goo? And if he was, what was the difference between him and the rest of the horde? Is it realistic that only one alien would implement a plan of some kind?

    The robot suit works with alien DNA, but there's still no instruction manual. He mastered very complex mechanics in a very short time. ...Thought that might be explained with intuitive technology.

    And the biggest plot-hole is still the weaponry and the will to use it. The aliens' motivations and actions were completely scatter-shot.

    Attacking humans with their bare hands one minute (with MASSIVE amounts of strength and violence) and cringing submissively away, another minute.

    Culturally inconsistent for the sake of a very thin plot.

    As for this:

    "I could go even further, because it angers me that anyone could argue that their closed-minded, ignorant, ethnocentric viewpoint on a film is the ONLY right opinion."

    Ignoring the disrespectful language, your main statement is wrong.

    Never claimed that.

    I certainly don't think I was vague, and if I was "nasty" or "disrespectful,"

    *point to right above this phrase*

    ...Well, you weren't vague. :)


    "those stupid white people don't know shit" (I'm paraphrasing, but that's pretty much what you meant)

    Nope. Not what I meant, but thanks for trying.


    and you have very little second-hand knowledge about it.

    About South Africa? Yes. About racism? I wish.

    And...once again, irrelevant to my points.

    By the way, don't call me an example of "white racism." Guess what, I'm biracial.

    Wasn't planning to.

    Biracial is unclear. Are you Mexican-Iranian? Samoan-Irish?

    Besides meaning absolutely nothing to your understanding of my review, your mixed heritage qualifies nothing.


    Thanks for taking the time to write.

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  38. @Stephan

    The movie is an allegory about black apartheid and yet not *one* black person was portrayed as anything beyond a "type" nor beyond the periphery.

    The star was white.

    Thanks, for the comment.

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  39. @Anonymous

    This comment could have gone in any number of directions, but I'd like to focus on one thing at a time so we're sure to understand each other and not miss anything.

    How, exactly, was Wikus an example of Mighty Whitey?

    Please, please don't just tell me to Google it or click on the link above, which I already did. I'm failing to see what Wikus did that the aliens were unable to do for themselves. Did he free them? No. Did he save them from going to D10? No. In the end, did he make the situation better for any alien than it would have been without his showing up in the first place? No.

    So what gives?


    Okay. I'll keep it simple. The movie takes place among a vast majority of "others", but a white person is the star.

    The white star "saves" two "others" .

    That's what makes him Mighty Whitey.

    Thanks, for the comment.

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  40. @Anonymous

    There are little things about your review that utterly destabilize your credibility. For one, your criticism of "boy" is a fundamental demonstration of your inability to see outside of the 2-dimensional American race dichotomy. Plenty of other cultures use "boy" and it does not at all have the same undertones as how it can be used in America. But let's get to the meat of the criticism...

    Let's start with your usage of the trope, "Mighty Whitey." First, you used it wrong. In your haste to see nothing but racism, you completely missed the inherent criticism loaded in the character of Wikus. Wikus is a conformist, a low-level bureaucrat/middle-management-type, whose weak trembling smile is indicative of a man eager to please but too cowardly to stand up for himself. He casually aborts prawn children, evicts aliens and thinking that getting their signature first is the correct and peaceful route, which is another glaring criticism/dark humor of the movie towards the white bureaucrats who allow atrocity to occur. There was nothing noble or good or even sentimental about Wikus until the end of the movie. You criticize this aspect of his character as well, as if it is some kind of terrible stereotype that when he starts to mutate and become like them, he sees the error of his ways (it's called character development). But even when he's halfway alien, he still acts selfishly human, willing to put himself before the cause of Christopher, such as when he knocks Christopher out because he doesn't want to wait three years to have his condition fixed. Even when Christopher explains that his own people take priority, even after Wikus saw the medical experiments with his own eyes, he still selfishly acted in his own interest. The movie makes this pretty clear.

    I suspect you didn't actually watch the movie. Your racial criticisms are superficial and you relied on your preconceived assumptions about the world so you wouldn't have to rethink and analyze how another culture might be approaching their own race issues.


    You first point was addressed further up in the comments.

    Wilkus' character flaws do not affect his status as a Mighty Whitey. This is made quite clear in the link provided.

    I do, however, appreciate the time you put into writing that out.

    Yes, I have seen the movie, even with my vastly differing opinion and perspective.

    Nobody can determine another person's motivations. Those you've applied to me are wrong.

    I saw it one way. You saw it another. It's as simple as that.

    Thanks, for the comment.

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  41. Wow, I'm not going to jump into the fray of commentary up there. :) I went into the movie knowing that the allegory would be heavy handed and having seen a few "making of" interviews, so I knew that their documentary feel was drawn directly from present feelings about Apartheid.

    We saw the first showing on Sunday morning and it paid off, theater was barely 1/4 full and everyone was well-behaved. I had to laugh because my friend is not a fan of gore, so when they chose to include some bits flying around, he was making the "special finger mask" that keeps the scary stuff away.

    Unfortunately, I didn't feel that this was a movie made better by being on the big screen. I would have been just as happy watching this at home, especially with some of the heavier (non-captioned) S. African accents. But I did enjoy the film, predictable points included. And I hope that they don't go for a sequel, but it was clearly left open with the potential.

    Nice review, and I agree with you. Now lemme go look up SyFy and see if there's an "Alien Nation" rerun on! ;)

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  42. @Mike

    Still, the movie was made in the Hollywood system, and it certainly seems like it's followed the majority of tropes that the American movie industry has built into a language over the past century. Doesn't matter how feel-good the movie otherwise is. Pay attention, educate yourself, learn what the filmmakers are saying to you.

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  43. Anonymous5:02 AM

    ok, here is the first problem

    "The aliens are drone level creatures...hive mind rendered listless".... Ok, so then how are the "prawns" any different than say if 2 million Orangutans showed up in Chicago?

    The prawns clearly could not intergrate with the local population, so what other option was there than to segregate them for both their safety, and the safety of the city? Keep in mind the population of J-Burg is 3million people...at the end of the movie, there were what? 2.5 million prawns? 2.5 million dangrous hostile and stupid drones (even human refugees dont just go meander around the city, it would be nuts..thats why org like the UN create refugee camps in the first place).....its not a morally simple concept
    here.

    If they are listless hive drones, than what "human rights" do they actually have? That say, Pandas dont

    If the prawns are incapable of

    ReplyDelete
  44. Anonymous8:26 AM

    I think I'm going to have to respectfully disagree with our hosts review, however cogent and well thought out. I'm not going to launch into some itemized diatribe about what i found at fault with your review, but will briefly say that despite your previous denial, I suspect you went into the theater with your opinion already calcified within your cortex and what you saw on the screen (or chose to see) only strengthened said preconcieved notions. As a person of color, I had my own notions of how the obvious aparthied allegory would be handled, but what I saw was not quite as nefarious as what you viewed. In my opinion, if this movie is about race, it is about the collective failure of the human race to simply be humane. I hope i'm wrong about you're mindset going in to see the film, but let's face it, we are none of us, truly objective and are all prone to knee jerk reactions from time to time. What I do love about this film, possibly the unintended genius of the film, is the dialogue that it has sparked. Discussion on matters of race, culture, socio-economic issues, and ultimately, what it means to be human, all deliciously spirited and thought provoking, the meat of any worthy story, regardless of genre. Whether intended or not, kudos to you Mr. Blomkamp, you've certainly struck a nerve, which is just what's needed to wake summer movie-goers out out of their torpor.

    ReplyDelete
  45. Delux3:03 PM

    I wonder how much less hostility your criticisms would be getting if peter jackson wasnt attached to this project--

    ReplyDelete
  46. Anonymous7:01 PM

    I have MAJOR issues with those Dutch who claim to be South Africans. So I can't sit and just watch this movie. Your review has made it clear what I thought this film would be.
    The only reason it is set in apartheid, is so we have the white hero and other whites in government. And yes, the "boy" who tags along. Obviously, can't forget the angry black men aka the Nigerians and those living in shanty towns.
    It gets me so angry when I see something like this and people accepting it believing it is the second coming because we live in a rubbish movie world of today with remakes.
    I commend you for your review and bringing out mr. half dutch man's lame attempt at social commentary. How dare he use the sickening era of apartheid as a BACKDROP for a sci-fi action movie.

    ReplyDelete
  47. Anonymous3:00 AM

    While I rather agree with your points, I did *like* the movie. They kept it from being more than it was. I wish they had chosen somewhere else, other than South Africa, some place where we wouldn't expect this. To the western eye, I guess, the movie was business as usual in South Africa. Our news media saturates us with its tragedies and its terrors. In the end all I could say was "so?" Because what did the movie really do that reading about the genocide and the history of South Africa wouldn't do a thousand times better AND in real life. Granted, and I think this is the real horror of District 9, I have had friends get upset with me about my issues with the movie because they had never heard of the Apartheid before, let alone District 6.

    ReplyDelete
  48. Is it really the responsibility of filmmakers to ensure that their portrayal of a certain race is fair and balanced? It seems wrong to me that the runtime of this film would need to be increased (or important plot elements trimmed) in order to add scenes just to satisfy the needs of an audience member unable to recognize that a black man portrayed as superstitious or a white man portrayed as evil and greedy is not meant to represent every member of their race. Or is that not what's ultimately being criticized here? I mean, if there were more scenes with the black MNU employee that blew the whistle on what was happening at the company would that be enough to temper cries of racism even though those scenes were unnecessary to tell this story? Assuming you had to leave the Nigerian gang in the movie, what would you do if you were the filmmaker so as not to appear racist, or do those characters just do irreparable damage to the movie in your opinion?

    ReplyDelete
  49. @Todd

    In answer to your first question. Yes.

    As for your assumptions about solutions? All wrong. It's not the audience's fault that the predominant image of our culture isn't as diverse as we are.

    The solution you assume I would apply, makes it clear that you really don't understand the problems I have with the film.

    "Cries of racism" speaks for itself.

    What would I do?

    Well, I can tell you this. If I were to make a movie allegory about the Bosnian Genocide, I would *not* make a black female character the star, nor tell the story from her point of view.

    Thanks, for the comment.

    (I chose not to publish your second comment because frankly I'm sick of repeating myself about the definition of Mighty Whitey. If you choose to misinterpret the terminology, when there's thorough material on the subject you can find yourself, that just seems like stubborn ignorance to me).

    ReplyDelete
  50. @Anonymous

    I think I'm going to have to respectfully disagree with our hosts review, however cogent and well thought out. I'm not going to launch into some itemized diatribe about what i found at fault with your review, but will briefly say that despite your previous denial, I suspect you went into the theater with your opinion already calcified within your cortex and what you saw on the screen (or chose to see) only strengthened said preconcieved notions. As a person of color, I had my own notions of how the obvious aparthied allegory would be handled, but what I saw was not quite as nefarious as what you viewed. In my opinion, if this movie is about race, it is about the collective failure of the human race to simply be humane. I hope i'm wrong about you're mindset going in to see the film, but let's face it, we are none of us, truly objective and are all prone to knee jerk reactions from time to time. What I do love about this film, possibly the unintended genius of the film, is the dialogue that it has sparked. Discussion on matters of race, culture, socio-economic issues, and ultimately, what it means to be human, all deliciously spirited and thought provoking, the meat of any worthy story, regardless of genre. Whether intended or not, kudos to you Mr. Blomkamp, you've certainly struck a nerve, which is just what's needed to wake summer movie-goers out out of their torpor.

    You are welcome to suspect whatever you'd like about my preconceived notions.

    But again, that is pretty similar to saying "You want racism to happen and that's what causes it."

    I think you're the 3rd(?) person to say that?

    I am jaded by Hollywood movies, I admit.

    I expect all kinds of cliches. I expect the hero to not look back the explosion. I expect the girl in high-heels to trip over something.

    I expect swirly ballet cam from Micheal Bay, and yet...*only* when I talk about *this* particular cliche (THEDREADEDRACISMS!) am I accused of somehow wanting it happen.

    *shrug*

    Blomkamp also gets kudos from me for the attempt, but he's not above criticism. And one can unknowingly do racist things and *not* be a racist.

    That's what I think happened here.

    Thanks, for the comment.

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  51. Orchid7:34 PM

    I think people are reactign this way because they think that if there is something racist about the movie, then they are somehow implicated and so they fight you tooth and nail. they can't separate themselves from the movie and empathize. It's really strange and very disheartening. I love your blog, it has had be in stiches for days now! Stay awesome!

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  52. I see you don't want to get into a Might Whitey talk, so all I'll say is I don't think you should link to a definition if you're not going to stand by it.

    Anyway I read your post and checked out your list of cliches and from what I can remember of the movie most of them weren't present. #1, White Hero. You don't want to argue this so I'll skip it. #2, Howling Black Woman (or equivalent). Nothing like that in this film. The aliens seemed to just accept what was happening to them (those with enough mental capacity to even really comprehend it). #3, I didn't think this film was heavy handed, but maybe you can explain different. I was actually impressed in the way the aliens seemed so repulsive at the beginning but as the movie progressed it was possible to empathize with them. Granted this was mostly due to the main aliens being given human-like traits. #4, No More Overacting. Again maybe your opinion is different, but I didn't see anyone overacting. Maybe the main MNU villain was a bit over the top. #5, If you're going to show it, show it all. What didn't we see?

    As for the Nigerian gangs, I didn't see that as racist, but I'm not familiar with Nigerian stereotypes and how this might enforce them. My own personal thoughts were that, while wanting to eat something to gain its power seems weird, I know I've heard of this happening in other cultures (perhaps not black cultures. i don't remember.) And in a world where aliens have suddenly shown up, I wouldn't be all that surprised to see people fall back on superstition. If one myth turns out to be real, then maybe some others are too...

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  53. @orchid

    I think you're right. :)

    And thanks for the compliments! Usually my blog is a sunny-happy place.

    ReplyDelete
  54. @Barndorfer

    If you don't want to get into the Mighty Whitey talk then don't. Otherwise this just comes off as the coward's way to a parting shot.

    I've stood by the same definitions present in the link.

    Some may choose to only read the first few paragraphs and assume that's all there is, but it's not my responsibility to force people to read thoroughly.

    #1 The Hero was white. His flaws don't invalidate the fact that he "saved" two prawns

    #2 There was a moaning soundtrack, especially at the end when our white hero is oh-so very sad about his fate. I lol'ed.

    #3 I'm loling at this, too.

    #4 Never said that applied.

    #5 Never said that applied, either.

    My follow-up paragraph indicates *exactly*, what I was referring to.

    Not seeing something as racist doesn't make it any less so.

    Thanks, for the comment.

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  55. I don't know why it even has to be an issue. It was a great science fiction film, plain and simple - one of the best in a long time, honestly.

    I think you're digging a little too deep into a film that, at its base, is based not in reality but in the fantastic. Yes, of course there are parallels - but this is not a documentary, it's not An Inconvenient Truth with Prawns or anything...

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  56. Anonymous12:55 AM

    I've posted this elsewhere...I don't think it's racist to portray Nigerians as wanting to eat the aliens. How about Chinese people who eat tiger penis and bear gall bladders, thinking they will gain their magical animal essence?

    Would it be racist to have a movie portraying Chinese people eating tiger penises and bear gall bladders to gain the special, magical essence of the animals?

    "Unleashing the market for tiger parts perpetuates a myth. Tiger claws are worn as an amulet for courage and good luck. Eyeballs rolled into pills are believed to cure epilepsy. The tail, when mixed with soup, is thought to cure diseases of the skin. Tiger penis soup is prized as an aphrodisiac. Bones are thought to cure rheumatism and prolong life."

    http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?file=/chronicle/archive/2007/11/11/TR10T8RBN.DTL


    “Also in danger of extinction, the Siberian tiger continues to be hunted for its bones and penis. Tiger bone is ground into a powder and sold by Chinese medicine practitioners internationally as a cure for a variety of ailments; tiger penis is commonly sold as an aphrodisiac. Between 1991 and 1994, at least 180 tigers were killed for the trade. But increasingly vigilant anti-poaching efforts have given the species a brief reprieve: the tiger population in the Far East has slightly increased in recent years – an estimated 430 now live in the wild.”

    “Under serious scrutiny is the trade in bear parts, particularly bear gall bladders. Asiatic black bear gall bladder bile, which is extracted and then dried, is in such short supply that Asian markets have now focused their attention on another species: the North American black bear. Though black bear populations are not severely threatened, they may soon be: The illegal trade in California alone is estimated at $100 million a year.”

    http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m1594/is_n4_v8/ai_20048286/

    "To ingest the tiger, it is believed, is to gain some of its mythical strength and powers."

    ReplyDelete
  57. @ Those Folks Still Waiting for the Comments in Moderation

    The best thing about this blog has been that it's a fun thing for me. Something I do simply because I enjoy it.

    I don't enjoy flame wars. So, I'm simply not engaging in them.

    If you've said your peace once, I'm not readdressing the same points I already have.

    I have a great luxury here with moderation. I don't have to engage in derailed arguments nor handhold willfully ignorant people about a subject that would take far more time than I have to properly bring them up to par.

    Since you're on the internet, you have the ability to research these subjects further if you choose. Judging from the fact that you have not...

    I will say this, though:

    It is mighty interesting that of all the reviews on this blog, most of them snarky about all kinds of cliches and tropes that I see constantly in film (even the ones folks disagree with), it's only the ones on race that draw any ire, and you can forget *this* much...

    ...From people who aren't even the subjects.

    Funny that. ;)

    I believe Orchid's comment is definitely on to something.

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  58. @The Fraze

    There's the "You're causing the racisms by seeing it where there is none!" thing again.

    I'm not making it an issue. It simply *is* an issue that Blomkamp chose to address in this film.

    He just did so poorly.

    If Blomkamp had followed your advice about "digging a little too deep" he would not have looked at District 6 in the first place and there would be no film.

    Thanks, for the comment.

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  59. @Anonymous

    I've posted this elsewhere...I don't think it's racist to portray Nigerians as wanting to eat the aliens. How about Chinese people who eat tiger penis and bear gall bladders, thinking they will gain their magical animal essence?

    Scroll up through the comments. My third addresses your own.

    Thank you. :)

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  60. I disagree with most of the noted "failures" of the film, because the film has its many faults, but racism isn't one of them. I agree with Mike on a lot that he said. Wikus wasn't the almighty protag in the film; several times I wanted to jump up and punch the crap out of him for the inhumane and selfish actions he took,(which by the way brought a fresh approach to the film).

    But WHERE IN THE WORLD DID YOU ALL GET THAT THE FILM IS SUPPOSED TO BE SOLELY BASED ON RACE AND THAT THE ALIENS REPRESENT BLACKS....wrong! The director never said that. And the film is a culmination of subjects; government intervention/relation with corps in weaponry, racism, class/economic issues of the have and have nots, etc. Once this was noted in the review article and by fellow commenters I lost all ability to actually take what was typed as serious. The film has more to do with war and class and "government&corpate interest relationships" than anything else.

    District 9 is probably at the top of my list as one of the better films of the summer along with Trek and Hurt Locker, but it isn't the best sci-fi flick. I enjoyed it immensely.

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  61. "Even if you were to put aside the righteous racefail, the movie's plot is dumb and full of holes. We're supposed to believe not *one* alien managed to do in over twenty years, what Mighty Whitey did in seventy-four hours."

    Actually... If you read the subtitles when Christopher is talking you'll see he refers to, several times, the 20 or so years it's taken him to collect enough of that fluid to re-initiate the small barge and Mothership. Wimpy Wikis had almost nothing to do with that stuff except getting it in the face and getting it out've MNU HQ

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  62. @tankit

    "Wikus wasn't the almighty protag in the film; several times I wanted to jump up and punch the crap out of him for the inhumane and selfish actions he took,(which by the way brought a fresh approach to the film)."

    Whether he is completely liked or not is a moot point.

    A white male, as is typical is the most important character in a movie full of and about the other. He saves two of them.

    As for the capslocked question. Click the link in my review. You may read about the original inspiration for the film, District 6, if you choose.

    I'm glad you had a good experience watching it.

    Thanks for the comment.

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  63. @Sumguy Fou

    "Actually... If you read the subtitles when Christopher is talking you'll see he refers to, several times, the 20 or so years it's taken him to collect enough of that fluid to re-initiate the small barge and Mothership."


    ...Which this one alien out of thousands(?) never got to do onscreen.

    But we *did* see Mighty Whitey mutate, stylishly blow people away, and catch a missile.

    The reasons behind it, which we both witnessed, don't take away from the fact that Wilkus still did more in seventy-four hours than the *entire* alien population did in almost thirty.

    Thanks for the comment, though.

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  64. Wilkus was the protagonist, hence the movie followed his actions most of the time.

    The events in the film were brought about by the decision to move the aliens.

    The lethargy and inaction of the aliens was explained several times in the movie.

    You're right that Christopher did not re-initiate the two ships onscreen. It was his son. He did this while simultaneously remote piloting the alien battle armor and saving Wilkus' life (by stylishly blowing away the gang members).

    You are wrong in applying the Mighty Whitey trope to this movie.

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  65. I have to admit that alot of the things that you pointed out, I hadn't noticed before. I did encounter a few plot holes of my own during the movie, mostly concerning the rapid pace at which Wikus seemingly rights his wrongs and his SUDDEN and ALL ENCOMPASING understanding of the prawn technology, but they were easily brushed aside by my overall love of the film.

    While many of the people who've commented here (I've read through just about all of them) seem to have focused on race, I find that- for me- the film addresses another idea entirely. Instead of it being 'Mighty Whitey' versus other bad white men + bad black gang members, I found 'District 9' to be a very stark protreyal of how human beigns have treated each other throughout history. We have continuously enslaved and taken advantage of people we've considered different or inferior, and while- as a whole- we have taken huge leaps to ammend these actions and cease them from continuing, people still have a long distance to cover. And after seeing 'District 9', I'm not sure if we will ever be able to successfully close the gaps we have between our egos and our compassion.

    I left the theatre after watching 'District 9' in near tears. One particular nerve that struck me was the use of the aliens for inhumane scientific experiments. In my sociology class, we discussed morality and the Code of Ethics used in scientific discovery. My teacher mentioned to us that some of the greatest advancements in technology came from vile lapses in the Code of Ethics- primarily during the Holocaust. And it made me think- are humans so eager for advancements, so hungry and greedy to exploit any possible niche of self gain, that they would execute such attrocious actions against innocents?

    Yes.

    And while 'District 9' left me feeling even less hopeful about or future on this planet, I admire the ingenuity of Mr. Blomkamp. He took the failure of his inital project (a cinematic production of HALO the video game) and turned it into a low bugdet sci-fi film that has sparked massive debates over everything that should be important in popular culture. I think it is painfully rare, now-a-days, for a movie containing very few 'Fame Names', on a very low bugdet, to spark such wonderful conversations.

    Also- I wanted to thank you, D.C. Girl, and everyone else who commented, because this blog had me challenging, changing, and defending my views on the movie all at once. I found nearly every response to be extremely well thought out, highly educated, and (mostly) non-repetative.

    However, I did still enjoy the movie very much- but will be taking all of these ideas into the theatre with me for examination when I go to see it again.

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  66. Anonymous1:46 AM

    i think you got it all wrong the movie wasnt from anyones perspective it was from your own perspective as if you were actually there... there were lines like "these are very bad things being done " because it was made to be realistic and when really really bad things are going on in real life, all your brain can think of doing is saying these are bad things and cursing

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  67. Anonymous12:50 PM

    You say that "Wilkus' character flaws do not affect his status as a Mighty Whitey"...well, actually, they do, and to say they don't is either disingenuity on your part, or selective reading about the definition of a Mighty Whitey according to your own link, which defines a Mighty Whitey as someone "naturally superior to his racially different counterpart" and someone who can do anything better than the racial other. Having seen the film you will know that firstly, in no way can Wikus be described as naturally superior to either the aliens he condescends to, or the black trainee he works with (who ends up, tellingly, being the only human character in the film who retains any integrity). In fact it's quite the opposite - for most of the film Wikus is completely repugnant, selfish and officious. Your claim that he "saves two of them (aliens)" isn't strictly true, either - the motivation for his apparent sacrifice for the two aliens was not exactly altruistic. You are dismissive of all these flaws in Wikus' character as not relevant to your argument that he represents the Mighty Whitey. Yet the problem with that claim is that the flaws in his character are not only relevant they actually invalidate your argument that Wikus represents the Mightey Whitey who (by the definition you linked to) is "naturally superior" to the racial other - which Wikus is not. I agree with Barndorfer - you shouldn't link to a definition if you are not going to stand by it.

    You're drawing a long bow by linking the supposedly offensive depiction of the aliens as bumbling cat meat eating buffoons, based on the premise that the movie was inspired by forced evictions in District 6. First and foremost the movie is sci fi, with allusions to political satire. The aliens are not supposed to BE black people. They represent an underclass that other people (eg the human residents of Joburg) look down on and don't understand. The political satire is just that - satire. At all times the film illicits sympathy for the aliens, cat meat eating or not, as an oppressed underclass. No one in their right mind would react to the film by thinking that what the aliens do = a representation of what black people in South Africa do. Secondly, District 6 is not the sole raison d'etre for the film - making a sci fi film was another reason. Blomkamp says as much: "I felt like half of my mind wanted to make some serious film about these topics and the other half wanted to make a bloody genre film. And then I thought maybe I'll be able to do both" http://www.huffingtonpost.com/brad-balfour/qa-sci-fi-director-neill_b_265672.html. (As an aside, in that same interview he describes how he used Wikus to make a mockery of the typical white male in South Africa today.) A third inspiration for District 9 was a short film by the director based on Zimbabweans fleeing Mugabe's regime and living as "aliens" in South Africa. "The inspiration for District 9 came from one of Blomkamp shorts, titled 'Alive in Jo’burg' " (http://scififantasyfilms.suite101.com/article.cfm/peter_jacksons_district_9_scifi_film_review) So it seems wildly tenuous to make a link between the real forced evictions in District 6 and taking offence at the way the aliens are portrayed in the film "District 9".

    Finally...Your complaint that there was no corresponding negative portrayal of white people ("My issue isn't with the depiction of bad black people. It's that there wasn't a counter-balance") is also blatantly and clearly wrong. As Mike and a few others have pointed out, and as you should know having seen the film, the white South Africans come off as equally bad as the Nigerian gangsters - completely devoid of any humanity, and more than willing to kill one of their own employees for the possibility of financial profit. Thus I'm not sure why you insist that there was no "counter-balance" in terms of the depiction of bad white people, when every white person in the film including Wikus was bad (selfish, violent, inhumane and pathetic).

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  68. @mercyect

    I appreciate the comment. I have to say, yours is probably the most civil of those who haven't completely agreed with what I had to say about the film.

    That said. If you are white? It is your privilege to not notice the things I pointed out.

    Seeing your image reflected in all kinds of ways, positive, negative, complex, in all genres is common.

    When you are a non-default, however, that's a different story.

    I'm a black woman. When I go to movies forget wide-ranging portrayals, more than 90% of the time, my image is completely absent.

    That doesn't stop me going or enjoying the movies, but those few times, when people *do* look like me, it's logical that while you would not notice, *I* would.

    And yes, I notice when we people who look like me are written in pretty much the same ways, again, and again (District 9) and when they actually *are* different.

    I'm making another post listing films that actually *have* done some interesting things representing the underrepresented, that will hopefully illustrate better what I mean. :)

    In the meantime, I would encourage those people who dismiss the above point to try a little experiment.

    The next time you sit down to watch TV, go to the movies, heck even surf the web, try imagining every image of the people you see who are white, aren't.

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  69. Anonymous1:50 PM

    This is the biggest load of rubbish I have ever seen. Those movie critics that coerced me into going to waste my money (by giving this piece of junk a good rating) should be ashamed of themselves.

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  70. Anonymous3:28 AM

    Personally I dont give a toss what race, colour or creed a person is. Gender only matters in passing.
    What matters what you do, what you stand for. All in all I thought it was a good movie.

    Rare where I end up cheering the aliens. If you're worried about representations of people, as whitey myself, I can say not one person beyond Fundiswa ,the "boy" ,as you put, it was remotely morally praiseworthy.

    If anything it was an even more damning appraisement of "the man" and "whitey" than has been written about.
    Have a nice day

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  71. I believe that District 9 is a well made movie just because it is not as deep as it needs to be. the metaphor is plain simple and due that, this movie is suitable for a wide range of ages, which is good and even important!

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As always, I appreciate all comments whether you agree or disagree. Just do not be vague, spammalicious, or disrespectful.

Trolling will get you deleted.

Thanks. :)