Unless you’ve been on another planet for the past few weeks, you’ve probably heard something about ‘District 9’ – a science fiction movie shot in Johannesburg, South Africa – where stranded alien visitors become the victims of a new apartheid.
Nope, I haven’t seen it, and yes I’d love to… but some reviewers have been taking the position that District 9 isn’t just about racism – it is racist itself in its stereotypical portrayal of blacks and Nigerians in particular.
How is the movie racist?
Well, to discuss that subject one has to decide to ignore the following reality…
WARNING: Plot Spoilers Ahead!
So there. Don’t say we didn’t warn you…
Okay, to start things off here are a few quotes from blogger D.C. Girl At the Movies…
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.
..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.
Nothing like a good African Cannibal & Inter-Species Prostitution Movie!
Carrying the observations about Hollywood racial stereotypes a little bit further is our friend Nicole Stamp at her Pageslap blog. The following excerpt is taken from Nicole’s article District 9 is racist…
If you look at the film as an apartheid allegory, it has problems right off the bat. The aliens are loathsome, trash-eating vermin who fight endlessly, destroy property for no reason, and piss on their own homes, which isn’t a truthful or flattering allegorical comparison for actual black South Africans under apartheid. Apartheid is terrible because humans were denied rights. The “apartheid” of these aliens isn’t that terrible- it’s kind of justifiable, because they’re actually dangerous, violent and destructive.
The Nigerians have a wailing “witch doctor”. Who instructs them to eat the aliens. And they do it. Bloody, wriggling, and raw, of course.
We’re told that the black prostitutes “service” the aliens sexually. ARE YOU EFFING KIDDING ME??!
And when Wikus’ arm grows a claw, the Nigerian gang boss starts licking his chops, eager to commit cannibalism.
Yup, that’s Hollywood’s Africa, isn’t it. Black Africans shown as degenerate savages who’ll have sex with non-humans and are pretty damn eager to eat people.
The thing that really upsets me is that most people who see this movie won’t question, or even notice, this incredibly racist portrayal. It wasn’t even necessary for the plot, and in fact the racist elements actually created some plot holes.
What Do You Think?
Google “District 9 racist” and you’ll see how this discussion about the movie is taking off, with good people finding themselves on opposite sides of the arguments.
It will be interesting to see how this movie does in theatres in the Caribbean and, I guess, in South Africa. Is ‘District 9’ fatally flawed by racism in the making of the movie? Will black audiences notice or care? Is the criticism justified? Do the critics realize that some of the nasty values and behaviors portrayed in the movie (cannibalism, rape, rape to cure aids) aren’t exactly unknown today on the continent?
Is the criticism justified? Once again, I haven’t seen District 9, but I have that impression. Nonetheless I’m wanting to see ‘District 9’ anyway for two reasons…
1/ The discussion of race, culture, history and the media always interests me.
2/ I love a good shoot-em-up!
Beliefnet: District 9 (Review)
Beliefnet: District 9 – About Racism or Racist?
Racialicious: Shrimpin’ Ain’t Easy – A Look At District 9
Sony Pictures: District 9 Official Website
Wikipedia: District 9