The film clip I chose is a scene from the movie District 9 (2009), directed by Neill Blomkamp. The movie focuses on issues of xenophobia, racial segregation, and class tension regarding the arrival of a number of alien refugees to South Africa. In this scene, alien Christopher Johnson is being evicted from his home by private military agent Wikus van de Merwe. The relocation of the alien population out of District 9 has been prompted by recent conflicts between humans and aliens, whom the humans derogatorily refer to as “prawns.”
The film itself is categorized as Science Fiction, noted for its striking visual imagery of the alien species and unusual depiction of human-alien interaction. At the same time, the film draws heavily from events of apartheid-era South Africa, during which black South Africans were similarly evicted from their homes as part of the creation of “white-only” neighborhoods. District 9‘s vivid illustration of racial tension and life in the slums for the aliens also hearkens back to our class discussions on NoViolet Bulawayo’s novel We Need New Names. In this way, the truly disturbing aspect of District 9 rests in its portrayal of how quickly human beings can begin to mistreat those they see as different from themselves, and how uncomfortably close the supposedly fictional movie lies to reality.
– Joe Joseph