Transcript of "District 9, Genre and Representation v3"
Genre and Representation
Recapping on Genre
- Genre is a careful and delicate combination that Media
producers must balance in order to attract their target
- A director for instance must balance familiarity and
difference to ensure audience engagement.
- This equation can be in balanced depending on who the
preferred target audience is.
The Sci-Fi genre
Recapping on Genre
- Steve Neale (1980) “Genres are instances of repetition and
difference” – it is essential for genres to deviate occasionally
in order to attract and engage audiences.
- Current audiences are the most informed and cine-literate
audiences ever. Why?
- We have seen more films than anyone in the history of the
How do we recognise Genre?
Genres are recognisable through the repeated use of generic codes and conventions.
If we recognise the genre of a text it enables us to feel at home and gives us a sense of
familiarity and security. The existence of Genre proves repetition and familiarity
gratifies and empowers an audience.
However if a text deviates from the conventions it can confuse audiences, but at the
same time we enjoy seeing the rules broken, providing that the film-maker doesn’t go
The concept of genre relates and fits within the Post Modernism theory
Remember the Post modernism theory states, all art has been made and we
now can only repeat, recycle or remix to mimic originality.
This theory developed the term Hybrid genre or Hybridity. Any thing that is a
hybrid is classified as Post Modern.
Documentary style conventions
Remember; If a text pays tribute to genre conventions it is defined as “Paying Homage”
If a text mimics genre conventions it is defined as “Parody”
Both are self aware.
Traditional Sci-Fi Genre Conventions
1.The narrative themes of;
a)Aliens and humans coexisting
b)New technologies and their consequences
c) Transformation/body horror
2. The use of Polysemic narrative
A polysemic narrative enables multiple
readings and therefore attracts a wide
audience. It uses advanced scientific events
within a fictional narrative to propose and
discuss a real moral debate
3. Traditional iconography (the visual images
and symbols used in a work of art)
Sci-Fi Genre Conventions
Neil Blomkamp’s “District 9” pays homage to the genre with its inclusion of the typical
narrative theme of body horror. A specific intertextual reference is made to David
Croenberg’s “The Fly” a previous Sci-Fi. This gratifies the preferred audiences viewing
Typical Documentary style Genre Conventions
1.The use of on screen graphic to introduce
2. Camera time codes
3. Acknowledgement of the camera
4. The use of interviews/vox pops
5. The use of stock footage
The exam formula (how to approach your exam answer)
“To what extent are your chosen texts typical
of their genre?” 2011 Exam
Stage one – Identify your 3 texts and their genres in a
Stage two – For each text demonstrate an understanding of
the genre conventions that apply. (Choose 3 genre
Stage three – For each individual genre convention chosen,
ensure you give an example of a scene reference.
High grade students can link theory and contextual information to justify
The films context
The city in question is the director's hometown of Johannesburg, South Africa. The
film was made after apartheid was abolished. The texts offers a cold reminder of
attitudes of prejudice, fear and racism. It challenges localism and questions how
this concept expands and declines depending on the state of affairs.
It has been 33 years since South Africa’s Soweto riots stirred the world’s disgust
with that country’s regime. Remember Apartheid is the legal segregation and
separation of race. The government kept blacks “apart” from whites and located
them in Ghettos. The text discusses these issues but via Aliens and Humans.
A row broke out over the film's representation of Nigerians as gang members,
weapons dealers, cannibalistic, voodoo using prostitutes. A back lash from blogs
complained the film would reinforce negative stereotypes of the country. A
Facebook group, District 9 hates Nigerians, was also hastily created, and is urging
people to sign a petition demanding an apology from the film-makers.
If District 9 really does hate Nigerians, it clearly hates its powerful, white characters
even more. Objecting to Nigerians being portrayed as morally bankrupt criminals
seems pointless when almost every group of characters in the film have little or no
regard for the law and a predominately negative representation.
The company in charge of shipping the aliens away from humans, MNU, and many
of the white politicians giving the orders are invariably ignorant, double-crossing,
ironically inhumane and corrupt. The soldiers are again white, with characteristics of
being easily mind-controlled thugs, using violence, threats and tricking aliens into
signing dubious eviction notices. Scientists are white and carry out underhand
experiments on captured "Prawns"; Even the representation of the aliens is negative,
they arm themselves with illegal weapons and brawl in the streets.
Blomkamp makes it clear the Nigerians are no better or worse than their white (or
alien) counterparts, creating an unsettling sort of equality among the characters.
And while the film may occasionally play on clumsy racial stereotypes, it also
encourages us to challenge them. All are represented in a negative nature when in
Blomkamp passes the baton back to us as viewers to question how our own beliefs
shape our opinion of representation and racism. Are we defensive when in a
minority? Are we unaware when in a majority? However right or wrong or cynically
you view Blomkamp’s views, what is undoubtedly true and maybe a little ironic is it
is he who has the opportunity to present them and it is he who is a white middle age
District 9, A Post Modern Film?
Typical features include a deliberate mixing of different artistic
styles and media, the self-conscious use of earlier styles and
Satire/Parody (why should it not be entertaining for a film to
discuss heavy political and spectatorship issues?)
Dilution and mixture of genre
The postmodern author deliberately undercuts the smooth
surface of his narrative and by somehow standing back and
commenting on the action prevents the reader from losing
themself in the story.
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