Wednesday in class we watched District 9. I knew District 9 was about aliens, but I never expected it to be what I watched. District 9 is based off of the real District Six of South Africa. There were several similarities between this movie and documentaries we have watched about South Africa throughout the semester.
District Six was known for the forced removal of 60,000 of its inhabitants during the apartheid regime. The regime stated that interracial interaction bred conflict, thus worked to separate races. This could be seen in the movie where aliens and humans were separated.
In District 9, there was an initiative to move 1.8 million “prawn” (a derogatory term for the aliens) to a safer place. During this initiative black South Africans dressed in red suits, like the red ants in the real South Africa, served eviction notices to the prawns. Many were beaten and abused, and some were killed if they did not cooperate. This also occurred in many black and coloured townships where evictions were given.
Another similarity between the film and real life South Africa during the apartheid regime was how the media lied. A specific instance where media lied in the previous documentaries we watched was Steve Biko’s death. The police brutally beat Biko and left him to die with no medical treatment; however, the media said he died of a hunger strike. In the film, the main character, Wikus Van De Merwe, was accused of sexual intercourse with one of the aliens. In reality, the government was performing tests and experiments on him.
There were a lot of things that frustrated me in the movie. The South African government said they wanted to keep the aliens in Johannesburg, yet black citizens wanted them out. Similar to how whites wanted the blacks out during apartheid. Another similarity I found was the xenophobia exhibited in both the film and real life. In modern day South Africa, immigrants are often hated and terrorized by the burning of their houses or by rejection from the natives.
This movie showed how people are often reluctant to let outsiders into their society. This may stem from fear, hatred, or economic reasons, but mostly from each sides unwillingness to know and learn about each others “differences.”