During our last class we watched the movie District 9. This film was interesting, to say the least as it depicted aliens, or “prawns,” living in South Africa. While at first I found myself questioning the pertinence of watching an alien movie during class, the relevance to our class soon emerged as the similarities between the film and the history of South Africa are undeniable. Specifically, the parallel to District 6, the portrayal of the outsiders, shack dwellings, and derogatory language.
While I had never heard about District 6 in South Africa and the history surrounding it, I learned during class that the film District 9 is based off the events that took place in District 6. More or less, that coloured people living in District 6 were forcibly removed by the Afrikaners just like the aliens occupying District 9 were forcibly removed. Ultimately, although I was initially somewhat deterred from watching a film about aliens, it proved to be an interesting and eye opening experience. While the parallels between District 9 and the real District 9 aka District 6, are undeniable, I found myself far more interested in the inherent complexities in human nature — more or less how we are a race obsessed with the idea of “the other.”
The idea of “the other” is one that goes even beyond South Africa and apartheid — it is an idea that has become an innate part of our society and culture. While we have been taught to accept everyone, based on our history, it seems that our most basic and primal reaction towards other beings is to focus on the differences. These differences are then exploited and discriminated against out of fear, naivety, and myopia. While some may say I have a negative view of humanity — if we really stop and think about our history, we must accept the facts.
The fact is that our history is wrought with discrimination, segregation, and exploitation of one group of people, in order for another group of people to gain superiority. Human beings are constantly trying to push down “the other” in order to elevate themselves into power and wealth.
While I’d like to think this inherent quality within all of us is caused by fear rather than innate hatred, it’s hard to say for sure. However, it is an idea can be transferred into the idea of xenophobia — the fear of immigrants.
After discussing the film and learning about xenophobia, it is clear that there will be some cultural tension amongst groups of people while in South Africa due to the competition for jobs. However, this idea is not foreign to the United States. We too are a nation with xenophobia — a feeling that has only been exacerbated by the recent economic struggles and a decline in jobs.