AGORA
: Dragged from her chariot by a mob of fanatical vigilante Christian monks, the revered astronomer was stripped naked, skinned to her bones with sharp oyster shells, stoned and burned alive as possibly the first executed witch in history. A kind of purge that was apparently big business back then.


CRITICAL WOMEN HEADLINES

8/12/09

DISTRICT 9: Artsy Vertigo, Creature Discomforts, And Inter-Species Sex For Sale

Pregnant Man: I Did Not Have Sex With That Alien

Artsy vertigo, racial profiling from outer space, black on prawn violence, Nigerian gangsters into cannibalistic health food diets, and inter-species creature sex for sale. And no, I did not have sex with that alien.

While Hollywood's early venture into science fiction predominantly pandered to public panic related to the Red Scare, the postmodern sci-fi paranoia of choice, if District 9 is any indication, seems to be the color black. In utter disregard of the loathsome racist history of apartheid in their country creating the dismal reality of poverty and pending chaos today, a team of white South African filmmakers has concocted a racially coded alien invasion mockumentary in the guise of entertainment...

CLICK TO CONTINUE READING REVIEW HERE

READER MAILBAG: South Africans Okay Racial Profiling As Entertainment

As a South African I can say that I found Prairies preachy, outraged tone offensive in the extreme. She has no idea what it was like growing up in a military dictatorship and what the sensibilities of South Africans are. This film is going to be interesting for us, as it is set in an environment that is essentially familiar, but wrapped up in Hollywood action. It's something I'm sure people in SA will find interesting and liberating, as it embraces the darkest side of our lives, and then essentially frappes it; creating something new and unrecognisable. We live in a country with a tortured, twisted past... We've been longing for some lighthearted entertainment, something that looks us in the eye and affirms our difficulties, but in the end simply entertains. This might well be it. With the recent past steeped in shoot-to-kill fascist extremism, this film might help lighten us up a bit. Maybe not, but give us a chance, Prairie. This is our country, after all.

Kind regards,
Jed C.
South Africa

I have no problem with negative reviews of movies, I do not however agree with some of the points you made. I am a South African and saw the xenophobic attacks and murders on the Zimbabwean illegal immigrants as the economy started its downward trend in the past two years.

These newcomers were blamed for some of the financial difficulties and lack of jobs. Businesses were burned down and quite a few immigrants were killed in violent attempts to remove them from their homes.

Our news featured stories exactly like the ones in the movie of the poor indigenous people applauding the actions of those responsible of these deeds. They did however also show people against these attacks, the problem with this was however that the people shown were usually the ones losing out financially as they were the owners of the premises destroyed, and some of them were also attacked for leasing their premises to these illegal immigrants.

Although I can agree that the portrayal of Nigerians in this move is negative, I must also point out that if you read our newspapers and see our news reports the amount of violent crimes performed by Nigerians crime syndicates in our country is staggering.

This coupled with the news at some time last year when albinos had to get government protection as they were being killed and body parts sold to be eaten in the belief that it gives you great power, makes the attempts by the movie to act as a metaphor for these deeds, current day xenophobia and previous apartheid not that unwarranted.

Now in the last paragraph you state that the movie is dull, loud and oppressive, if that was the basis of the negative review fair enough. However from the way it is written it appears to be an afterthought.

The main problem you apparently have is that white South Africans took real life events concerning the bad treatment of black people during apartheid and in more modern times the treatment of illegal immigrants linked with the rise in violent crime with their influx and used it as entertainment in an allegorical sci-fi movie, maybe if they used great exaggeration I would feel the same. But all these events in the movie (non sci-fi action parts) have real life parables.

Even the witch doctor parts have real life similarities. Not the majority but a very large part of the South African civilization still uses witch doctors and there are even laws that allow witch doctors/traditional healers to book off a person for sick leave similar to health care professionals.

I liked Bruno from Sacha Baron Cohen, but I find it funny that in your review for that movie you did not object to using sexual assault as a way to get responses. Think about it - he got partially undressed and tried to force himself on that politician, clinging onto his leg while he was trying to leave.

With the hunters in the tents he got naked, invaded their tents during the night where they refused him with verbal words and after repeated attempts they started to get more physical in nature, yes those moments were funny but if a man gets naked and repeatedly tries to break into your sleeping quarters when you say no, that guy is going to jail for sexual assault/misconduct.

However in the case of District 9 you seem to be offended that the makers of the film used normal interviews with people without going to extremes to get a response and then use it in a movie for entertainment purposes. I personally find the real life xenophobic views of immigrants a lot more reprehensible that using those interviews transplanted into a sci-fi movie to show the same xenophobic views using aliens as an allegory.

Doesn't it strike you as odd that you are so offended by this movie that you take it upon yourself to be the voice of outrage and contempt for these people? We here in South Africa fought for a long time to make our own voices heard and count for something; apparently all we had to actually do was get you to decide for us what is right and what is wrong.

I can't really speak for others but apparently some of us need you as our voice as we are to stupid to realize that when we spout lovely xenophobic views about others and are told that it is going to be used in a movie, it may get twisted into something more reprehensible.

Instead of showing some of us as the xenophobes we are for hating other human beings of a different nationality, we are now portrayed as something far more disgusting - people who hate a different species in a fictional movie for being a drain on our resources. How will we live through this injustice carried out against us.

Reading your review I learned basically nothing about the experience of viewing this movie as you were to busy getting onto your moral soap box for people who actually know how to speak for themselves.

Anonymous
South Africa

Viewer Distinguishes District 9 From The Evening News

I know, DISTRICT 9 is a take on the evils of Apartheid. Apartheid = bad. I get that.

Honestly, it made no sense whatsoever.

We're expected to believe that intelligent aliens possessed of interstellar and other priceless technologies would just be herded into ghettoes and left there? Ridiculous!

We're expected to believe the U.N/Americans/Russians/Chinese wouldn't have at least a huge presence on board that alien ship? Nonsense.

We're expected to believe that known foreign warlords would be allowed to operate openly in that ghetto, possibly acquiring dangerous technologies all the while? Preposterous.

We're expected to believe that, at the end, they shoot down the shuttle with ease, yet appear to forget they've done it as they don't attempt to do so again when it starts to limp up to the main vessel -- in spite of all the TV cameras reporting this is happening. What? No one in command is paying attention? Good Grief.

We're expected to believe this company (where's the real army?!) stores alien weapons of possibly enormous destructive capabilities in a DOWNTOWN building? With no more security than a few rent-a-cops? Say what?!?!

We're expected to believe that the city has had this enormous vessel hanging over it for TWENTY YEARS yet no one has had the brains to think that, just maybe, at some point the batteries will run down in the thing and it'll fall down, go BOOM? I know I'd move my business out from under. Yet these people don't think this might be a good idea? This redefines stupidity.

I could go on, but this should suffice to show how unbelievable it is that the same man who gave us the beautifully crafted LORD OF THE RINGS adaptations is guilty of this piece of crap.

The Starwolf

Hi Starwolf:

Amen! Thank you.
It's unbelievable, how viewers are talking about this movie like it's the evening news.

What are they selling at the theater refreshment stands, Koolaid?

By the way, Jackson is off the hook, sort of. He produced this movie but he's not the director.

Prairie

Likes Review For All The Wrong Reasons

Dear Prairie Miller,

I think you need to add "movie plot spoiler" to your credentials at the end of your review. Seriously. Just because you hated a movie doesn't mean you have to spoil it for everyone. Hell, maybe those people will actually get the point of the movie instead of just grabbing a megaphone and shouting "RACIST!" The film is meant to be as realistic as possible and, well... do your research, there is A LOT of organized crime in Nigeria that has spread to hundreds of countries, Johannesburg's South Africa being one. Now no one is saying that ALL nigerians are criminals, but you just cant help but jump there, huh? Just can't help but make that leap, yeah? These people exist whether you like it or not. By the way, there are some pretty evil white people in the movie too. And the "white dominated government" you speak of? Are you referring to the MNU? That was a privately contracted company put in charge of evicting aliens because the government couldn't handle the situation... No government ties what so ever... probably because the government's run by a bunch of dumb white guys, right? Maybe, maybe...

I do want to congratulate you on one thing: you're article, as biased and irrational as it is, was one of the more thought-provoking articles I've read in a while... mainly because I had trouble wrapping my brain around your reasoning.

J. Telich

To Sir, With Loathing

If you don't think this movie is fantastic or at the very least good. If you can't appreciate the well written dialogue coupled with excellently played out action and a wonderful new sci-fi story then I think they should find someone who actually likes movies to write these reviews. Because you sir, have no taste

Nathan B.

Cinema Hath No Fury Like A Fan Fave Scorned

hey dummy, Reverse Racism is still racism and everyone can see through your well worded review that you're a big ol' racist. Critics are supposed to be unbiased, you want to give objective rants then toss out that critics card you got. Rotten Tomatoes really needs to clean house with some of these critics, the tomato rating isn't meaning what it used to be.

FuryoftheFilmFan

Film Critics Not Obstetricians

This email is a question about the review of "One Love:A Bittersweet Reproductive Romance".

I saw that the film will be playing at a nearby theatre in a couple of weeks. From what I read it seems like a great film, and I'm very intrigued.

However, my fiance is pregnant now. Is this a 'safe' film for her to go see? Is it very depressing? Please let me know if you can.

Regards,

Derek B.

Whew....This is certainly an unprecedented question for a film critic. Perhaps an obstetrician would know better!

And congratulations on your approaching fatherhood, the best of luck!

Prairie

CW Review By Nancy Rhodes About Oil Exploitation Is Sweet

Hi, nice blog , thanks for sharing this [review of Sweet Crude]. I was also searching for a movie, Crude.

Atul

Crude is Joe Berlinger's doc about oil spoils in South America. He & Sandy were at Colgate Univ together in the early 80s as it happens.

Nancy Keefe Rhodes

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