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Movie as Allegory: “District 9”

“It’s been a long time, I shouldn’t have left you…” —Eric B. & Rakim, “I Know You Got Soul,” Paid in Full
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Okay, so I’m clearly late, seeing as how District 9 came out a month ago, but to say that I’ve been busy would be an understatement. I hope you can be consoled by the fact that as I watched it, dear readers, I could only think about how I had to get back to my PowerBook to tell you all about it. Dare I say it, I missed you!
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For those of you who have no idea, District 9 is set in South Africa, and it follows what happens after a UFO stops its flight and hovers over Johannesburg. When humans enter the vessel, they find aliens, hungry and in need of medical attention. So they pull them off the ship and settle them in an alien settlement where they are quarantined. We enter the story as the humans near the settlement are complaining about the alien’s now 28-year stay on earth (and their attempts to leave their slum), at which point the Multi-National United (read: the United Nations), decides to move them into a barbwire surrounded tent settlement far from the city. And then all hell breaks loose.
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I’m won’t tell you what happens, because I think that every one of you should see this movie, whether or not you’re a fan of sci-fi. It’s smart and well written and even funny, and definitely better than whatever crap is playing right now. While the obvious parallels that many folks will draw to the plot is that it’s an allegory for the horrors of Apartheid’s District 6 (and still others will see their own ethnic group’s struggle for independence in the story), I argue that it’s not just a condemnation of that particular South African institution, but for many of the offenses that have befallen all of the African Diaspora—including the aftermath of the United States’ own peculiar institution.

Just a few of the metaphors that jumped out and slapped me in the face:

Space ship = Slave ship
Aliens = Black people
“Prawns” = “Niggers”
Alien settlement = AIDS-riddled shantytowns in South Africa = Ghettos worldwide
Cat food at exorbitant prices =
Poor quality food sold in the hood at exorbitant prices
“Humans Only” signs = “Whites Only” signs
Medical experiments =
Tuskegee Experiments

Watch the trailer below, go see it ASAP then come back and talk to me about it. Seriously. It’s that good.

Have you already seen it? What did you think? Tell me!

—Kenrya

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