‘You are not welcome here’: post-apartheid negrophobia & real aliens in Blomkamp’s District 9

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Gunkel, Henriette ; König, Christiane (2010)
  • Publisher: University of East London

When District 9 (D9) was released in August 2009, the film was an immediate box office hit in several countries. This was much to the surprise of critics, reviewers and bloggers, who seemed astonished by the fact that a science fiction film with this impact could originate from South Africa. Internet forum discussions and an E-Symposium emerged as a response to the film, which continues to be the subject of controversial discussion.[1] While many celebrate the film in relation to the ‘generic’ genre of Science Fiction as a promising representative of a thriving African Cinema, others reject the film on the basis of its socio-political message, as yet another racist movie about Africa – with reference to the depiction of both ‘the Nigerians’ and the aliens.[2] In this article, we would like to move beyond a crudely metaphorical reading of representation (‘the aliens stand for X in reality’), and explore the degree to which the film foregrounds its own mediality. This focus moves us beyond a polarizing position that immediately rejects the film as racist, and allows us to engage with a complex and original text unlike so many other films that take ‘Africa’ as their subject.
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