During class on April 17th we were shown a film called District 9. This was not a movie I had enjoyed very thoroughly, and throughout the whole movie one of the questions the class was to consider was, “Why is our professor showing us this film?”–something that resonated with me the whole movie.
However, as the movie progressed, I was able to grasp the reason for why we were watching it. It relates to outsiders and different cultures not accepting one another. As an outsider we judge and make misconceptions about other cultures. We are content and satisfied with ours, so why should we be envious of another? People always think theirs is the best and do not take the time to get to know another. Even if they do, are they getting the full effect or just a peek from the outside?
When I went to France with my high school class, I was definitely submerged into the culture, however my stay with a host family impacted that experience even more significantly because they were able to show me the ins and outs of everything. I think that my overall stay was changed simply because of their influence as they showed me the “local” places to go, more so than the touristy areas. Much similarly in the film, outsiders judged the culture of the aliens by assuming they were grotesque for what they ate and how they lived. While this may still seem valid to some, once a human was turned into one of them, he was no longer accepted into his culture, but pushed into the once he was morphing into physically.
In many cultures it is expected for them to get angry at people coming into their home and stealing things away from them–such as jobs. While this did not happen in the movie, it did happen in South Africa’s past. Many aspects of the movie correlated to South Africa. For instance, our professor mentioned that we will be seeing shacks much similar to the ones in the movie. Also, during the film, officials went door to door to the “aliens” in District 9 to provide them with eviction notices, which we also know happened in South Africa after watching the film Dear Mandela.
It made me angry when they were evicting an alien, and the alien was reading the lease and he said, “you have to give me 24 hours notice before kicking me out”. This showed that he was educated and could read, and knew his rights however the officials did not care. It reminded me of when we watched the parts from Have You Heard from Johannesburg? where individuals who were educated tried to use factual information to stick up for themselves, but officials did not respond to it.
It seems as though if you have higher power then you could boss around anyone. It was also interesting how they had signs that were labeled, “no humans”; when in South Africa there were signs designated for black and white stations only during the apartheid. These signs show that each alien represented a person oppressed during the apartheid as they were excluded from places as well.
Overall, this has made me look at my trip to South Africa a little differently. I do not want to just read about their culture or watch movies. I want to ask the people we will be working with like the children at the schools, or the people in the community to share with me their culture so I can try and understand it and grasp a deeper meaning on it then what I have read. I know the history of South Africa, but I am interested to see how it has affected people first hand from all different races.
Although this movie did relate to the apartheid and how people were affected, it also made me realize that you cannot learn about one’s culture from the outside. Wikus who was the character being turned into the alien started out the movie being an official who told aliens they were being evicted. As he became one of them, he had them on their side and they worked together to achieve a common goal. I feel as though the deeper you are exposed to a culture, the more open you will be to work with them to achieve common goals.