The alien as ‘other’ in district 9
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The alien as ‘other’ in district 9

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The alien as ‘other’ in district 9 The alien as ‘other’ in district 9 Document Transcript

  • The Alien as ‘Other’ in District 9 „Alien‟ as a noun refers to those who have come from elsewhere and are foreigners or strangers to their surroundings. „ Alien‟ as an adjective describes something so “foreign or different it is incomprehensible or incompatible”. The aliens District 9are…. …seen asrepulsive, skittish scavengers with crustacean-like features (they are referred to as „Prawns‟) who feed on cat food. ….. the evil threat from outer space and are the opposite of our western civilized society. …..However, despite their appearances, almost immediately the audience senses that, even if they are somewhat unpredictable in their behaviour, they are not villainous because the whites behave far worse. Victims of an apartheid system Stranded on earth by a glitch in their navigation system, they are forced into make-shift concentration camps. Ultimately they are refugees in an alien world which rejects them. They are treated barbarically living in squalid circumstances and left to fend for themselves. With no means to communicate properly with the dominant white race (although some can interpret their clicks) they are denied basic rights. In this sense, the aliens are read as the blacks of an apartheid era who with no voice against the white man, are deprived of basic „human‟ needs. Allegory for racial division As the representations of the alien develop, it is no longer a simple metaphor for apartheid but more like an allegory for racial division. The aliens are shown to be „like us‟: they have kinship systems, they are supremely intelligent, they are parents and love their children, they want to „belong‟ and return to their home.
  • For example, Christopher Johnson, (this giving of Western Christian names was also common practice amongst slaves who took on the names of their owners) is the leader of the aliens and is shown to be a caring father, highly intelligent and most of all increasingly desperate. Aliens as ‘others’ The aliens are „othered‟ on many levels in District 9. 1. They do not belong on earth although their own ship hovers above the city, this is a reminder to the audience that they are from an „Other‟ place. 2. They are physically segregated and not allowed to assimilate with humans, but neither are they helped to leave. 3. They are physically „Other‟ to human form. 4. The could be said to be „Othered‟ within their own group as the 
 fight to survive as individuals ultimately breaks down their sense of community and „natural‟ hierarchy. Only Christopher Johnson, their leader, is able to focus on repairing the ship. Juxtaposed with this complex, but ultimately positive and empathetic representation of the alien, is the representation of „the whites‟. Definitions Apartheid refers to the 46-year South African regime that was a system of racial segregation. It removed citizenship from black people, provided them with inferior public services (healthcare, education, etc), and incorporated ‘forced removals’ to ensure separation. In Afrikaans, ‘apartheid’ means ‘separateness’. Holocaust is the term used to refer the extermination of many Jewish people and other people within minority groups by the Nazis in World War II. These „no non-human‟ and „for humans only‟ signs are in the film and were also used as part of the marketing campaign. They can be seen as metaphors for racial segregation, not only in South Africa, but, perhaps, as part of the historical segregation of blacks in the U.S.