District 9 is ascience-fiction film about an alien spaceship appearing over a town in South Africa.The story centers on the main character Wikus and his transition from someonein a position of power to one of the prawns themselves. Annaliza states that even though, “the eventsin this story are fictional, there are harsh realities portrayed through storytellingand analogy (Savage).

” Apartheid caused great economic and politicaldifferences between majority (whites) and minorities (blacks). This is similarto the Jim Crow law era in America where segregation was everywhere. TheDiscrimination and racism faced by the aliens in District 9 represents the racism in both South Africa afterapartheid and in America. The sign of Wikus’ actions and how it changesrepresents the belief of “treat others how you want to be treated.”            Racism in theUnited States is a well-known concept. Joe states, “Since the colonization ofthis country, there have always been minorities on the receiving end of racialdiscrimination. Mainly against African Americans during the Civil War and theJim Crow periods. Discrimination against Irish immigrants during the 19thcentury.

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Discrimination against Asian immigrants during the mid to late 19thcentury (Feagin).” In District 9, thealiens, or prawns, are treated as the lowest scum of the earth. The aliens arebribed with cat food and forcefully relocated at the beginning of the film. Theylive in a ghetto outside of the city in segregation. The denotation of thesesigns are the direct effects of Apartheid and Jim Crow.

Blacks were forced tolive in segregation, eat in segregation, and travel in segregation. Peacefulprotests in both South Africa and the United States were attacked with teargas, water cannons, and attack dogs. The aliens in the film were bribed withcat food, and then removed with sometimes lethal force if they refused.Although the film does dramatize some of these events, they portray the wayunwanted minorities were treated during those times.             The alien discrimination is a signof the longevity of discrimination in America and also in South Africa. In over20 years in the film’s timeline, the condition of the aliens is horrible.

Acommon misconception is that discrimination ended with the death of the JimCrow era. The belief that Martin Luther King Jr. and John F.

Kennedy wereprogenitors of the death of racism is exactly the reason racism slips throughthe cracks today. Shaila Dewan writes, “In each of the study’s 8,000 tests, onewhite and one minority tester of the same gender and aged, posing as equallywell-qualified renters or buyers, visited the same housing provider oragent…the white tester was usually favored” (Dewan). This subdued racism isdetrimental to hardworking men and women who are just trying to make their ownversion of the American Dream a reality. Dewan describes this type of racism as”door-slamming,” an apt term for having a door slammed both literally andfiguratively on an individual or a family. Another instance of discriminationin the current societal climate can be found with sentencing for crimes.

TheU.S Sentencing Commission indicates that, “African-American men serve longersentences than white men for the same crime” (King). King further states, “theracial disparity can’t be accounted for by whether an offender has a history ofviolence” (King). The crime could be identical and be committed by a black orwhite man. The black man would be given a longer sentence due to his race,regardless of prior history.

Historically the United States has one of thehighest incarceration rates in the world, it is not surprising why that happensgiven the information from this news article. These studies show thatdiscrimination is not something that can be simply changed with policy. It isoften incredibly difficult to identify racism and discrimination but when it’sidentified it can be easily passed off by using excuses.                         Thesecond major sign of District 9 is Wikus’behavior in several scenes. The first is during the eviction process.

Hetravels with several armed guards, air assistance and even authorizes deadlyforce. His role as is one of the oppressor. He actively uses his position ofpower to put down and oppress the minority and lesser race. This wouldrepresent how Congress and big businesses operate for their own agendas andagainst the greater good or the moral right. Wikus is using his position ofpower to enact a policy regardless of how it is done. For him, as long as thealiens are relocated, he has done his job. Compare this to congress, wherelegislators and senators are often paid or have vested interests in certainthings that influence their decisions and votes.

A direct connotation of this behavioral sign is thecurrent fight for Net Neutrality. Ajit Pai, the FCC chairman, “wants to destroyNet Neutrality” (save the internet). Net Neutrality is “legislation thatprohibits internet service providers from slowing down service or censoring content”(save the internet).

The relevancy of this sign is displayed with Ajit’sactions. The internet is such a fundamental resource in the world, but Ajitplans to vote to repeal Net Neutrality. He is a former Verizon lawyer with apotentially vested interest of Verizon’s agenda. The response with thepopulation’s interest would be to preserve the law, but conflicting interestsallow him to enact policy regardless of the input of millions of peoplenationwide. This is an example of how he uses his power to put down and oppressa larger population from an oppressor role.

It also shows how an oppressor doesnot necessarily have to be part of a majority class. They just need to hold thepower to do so. Now compare this to the later parts of the film where Wikusis slowly turning into an alien after being sprayed with black liquid. Thealiens risk lives to help protect Wikus, even though he was one that has causedthem grief in the past.

The way the alien’s treat Wikus and Wikus’ sadness ofnot having an immediate cure even though his life was saved countless times bythe aliens. The actions of the aliens in this scene is a sign of treatingothers how you want to be treated. Although Wilkus and his security team werebrutal in their actions in the relocation process, the aliens treated Wikus asone of their own.

Even then, Wikus still shows indignation when he finds outthe cure is not available. The scene is humbling to watch from an outsiderperspective, to see people who have been treated so poorly turn around and evengive their life for one of their wrongdoers. The aliens had every right toleave him to be captured and experimented on, but they chose to protect him. It is a great lesson to the viewers to treat others howyou want to be treated. Even when it how doing the right thing will often notbring the best results.

It brings strong a lesson of morals and principles intoa science fiction film. It can further be connotated as an attack on racism anddiscrimination. Treating minorities such as African, Asian, and Latin Americanswith disrespect or contempt for being a minority is easy to do. When you actwith the norm, there is often little to fear in terms of repercussions. It’sharder to be the person that objects to the norm than one that goes with it.

 

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