Colonialism and District 9

A great example of using cinema as a medium for political messages is the film District 9. For those of you who haven’t watched it, the plot is about a group of aliens who get stranded in South Africa. The South African government is then forced to support the aliens and they do this putting them in a sort of heavily patrolled ghetto. The film is mockumentary style and follows a government employee who through some unfortunate circumstances is changing into an alien. It also shows clips of interviews with citizens of South Africa expressing their disdain for the aliens.

While at face value District 9 could be viewed as just an entertaining science fiction movie, there is a lot more to it than that. The setting is a big part of its message on colonialism. As a country with a terrible, colonialist history, the interviews of both white and black citizens saying the aliens shouldn’t be there are just dripping with irony. Some of the aliens are portrayed as violent and unruly, but for the most part, they are shown as being decent. A big part of the movie is that the government of South Africa is about to move all of the aliens to what is basically a concentration camp. This could definitely be an allusion to the way that the native people of South Africa were grouped up and forced to live separate from the British colonists. Although the use of literal aliens isn’t always a perfect metaphor, the movie does a great job at delivering its message on immigration and colonialism. It also doesn’t hurt that the movie is really entertaining and well done. If you haven’t seen it yet I would definitely recommend watching it.


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