August 29, 2009

District 9

The only thing I learned from two viewings of this movie is that South Africa is the stupidest person in the world.

I know hating this is like hating Sophie's Choice in that it brands me as some sort of anti-intellectual white supremacist, as opposed to an intellectual white supremacist, but this movie was so maddeningly stupid I actually had to leave early to light up a cigarette and stab out my eyes. Then I threw myself in front of a Prius. 

"But the CGI is awesome." It was awesome in Tron, for its time, too.  If you take out the CGI, you're left with a movie written by Roger Hargreaves about characters whose behavior and choices make no sense at all, ever.


mr. baffling.JPG


II. Going For Oscar

But reviews of the movie have been overwhelmingly positive, not "awesome fight scenes" positive but "scathing social satire" and "indictment of man's inhumanity to man" positive, which makes me wonder if they saw a different movie?  Or did I miss the real meat of the film  because I left early when I realized this was not the sequel to V The Final Battle?

So I decided to try again, I told myself that there was going to be porn at the end of it, took off my pants, and watched.  No, I didn't go back to the theatre; fortunately, the major studios have joined together and created a website called "The Pirate Bay" which allows you to watch a movie for free before you decide if you want to buy it from Amazon for 4 bucks.

pirate bay.JPG


On the second viewing I was able to see what all the fuss was about: this is the kind of movie  the Oscars love.


Oscar Loves: Innocence Lost

The movie is about a race of aliens who do not speak English but do, unusually, speak Bantu, who park their spaceship above the city of Johannesburg and do nothing.  The U.S., Russians, and Chinese choose not to get involved with this spaceship, respecting South Africa's sovereign borders and trusting them to be the Earth's ambassadors.

The central story concerns a little alien boy, whom the humans disparagingly refer to as "District 9," and his father, District 8, who escape to the set of Slumdog Millionaire and look for scraps to use to build a spaceship which will fly them back up to the mother ship.  The kid has the technological know-how to build such a spaceship and later pilot it.

However, his father has to explain to him what "fuel" is, and where it goes.  That conversation occurs while the kid is actually synthesizing the fuel in their basement lab.

Also, the kid doesn't know how many moons Earth has.  You could say that since he's not from Earth he can't be expected to know how many moons Earth has, but I'm not from France and I know how many moons France has.  If it was his father who didn't know, I could speculate maybe he's nearsighted or doesn't know how to count past zero, but the kid was born on earth, he's been here all his life.

At first I had thought this was a plot hole; but on second viewing I realized that the kid is meant to be retarded.  Not full on retarded, not Down's Syndrome or Brad Pitt retarded, but Forrest Gump retarded.  In other words, Academy Award winning retarded.  Smart enough to build a spaceship but retarded enough that women will secretly want a man like him, right after they finish getting boned by a football team.  This, of course, is a pointed critique of the Bush Administration.


Oscar Loves: Racism

Everyone knows that this movie is complex allegory about apartheid.  What they may not know is that since target audience for the movie is the Academy of Motion Pictures,  the movie delivers this message with the subtlety of getting bludgeoned with a pizza oven.

Or so I thought, at first; but then I saw the magic of the movie's subtext.  The movie is a cinephile's Finnegan's Wake, a movie full of dream-like connections waiting for a postmodern deconstruction, or two guys with some weed.

The aliens, who in the movie like to eat cat food, represent blacks.  If this thematic conceit startles you, you're going to want to take a Xanax before you hear the rest of it.  These aliens are descended from the original Predator alien, a Rastafarian originally named Snoop Dogg, originally played by action star Jean Claude Van Damme, who, of course, is originally from South Africa.  He quit the movie because the mask was too heavy, and the role went to a black guy named Bigfoot who then died of AIDS. (1)

predator-snoop-jean.JPG

The South Africans find that the aliens' weapons can only be used by those with alien DNA; but they also quickly discover that their own DNA makes them hate black people, in this case aliens. So they decide to herd them into a ghetto and fence it off.  The writers of the movie cleverly mask this devastating critique of the Bush Administration by naming the ghetto "Gaza."

"District 9" is an allusion to the 9th district of New Orleans submerged by the movie Hurricane Katrina almost exactly 4 years ago; for this reason the aliens in the movie are referred to as "prawns."  As everyone knows, prawns are delicious; this is why some of the black people in the movie try to eat them.  This entire subtext is a blistering critique of the Bush Administration who, as early as 2001, had advocated for eating Katrina victims. As the President of the Academy of Motion Pictures once said, "George Bush hates black people.  Especially delicious Iraqis."


kanye hates reality.JPG
The aliens are largely forgotten and ignored in the slum, despite their being, well, aliens, a fact you could be forgiven for assuming would prompt some curiosity.  Not in South Africa.  Blacks there are rarely considered curiosities.  The only reason the South Africans begin worrying about them after 20 years is that the aliens start having sex with their women.  Amazingly, that part isn't a joke.

Oscar Loves: The Secret Purpose of War


Here's a sure-fire plot to get an Oscar nomination: a story about the greedy South Africans, played by America, who try to evict all of the Districts out of their ghetto in order to build a Disneyland, as seen through the eyes of a child.  This bit of eviction nastiness falls to Wikus van der Merwe, played by Blackwater USA (Best Supporting Actor nomination), who is so craven and petty that at one point he turns into a giant robot.  This transformation is a scathing critique of the Bush Administration, who hate robots.

District 8 and 9 have no choice but to turn to the underworld, the "black" market, for the parts they need to build their spaceship.  Because there are absolutely no such criminal gangs anywhere in South Africa, the Districts must travel all the way to Nigeria to find thugs willing to sell them the parts.

All the while, they are relentlessly pursued by Wikus and the Fox News team, who shoot and kill everything in sight just to feel the blood splatter on their faces.  It nourishes them.   They also want to get access to the aliens' weapons, which are infinitely more powerful than human weapons and which are laying around discarded everywhere in Johannesburg.  The Districts themselves never use the weapons that they brought with them from space on their human pursuers, because they are a peaceful race, abhor war, and just want to return to their homeland.  They do, however, throw rocks at them as they're being shot at by machine guns.  Also, one dons a suicide vest and blows himself up in order to kill all the vampires.  I'll admit that I may be confusing this with something I saw on CNN, but it could have happened in this movie, too.  And as anyone with enough weed will tell you, umm... what?  Either way, I think we all know what it says about the Bush Administration.

Oscar Loves: Finales That Make No Sense But Bow To the Political Fashion of The Academy That Particular Year


In this movie, not only do many humans die-- which prompted one not at all young but in all likelihood retarded moviegoer who had stumbled in from the next door Mrs. Field's Cookies to agree, "blast those motherfuckers!"-- not only are all humans depicted as corrupt Halliburton employees deserving of and receiving of death, but there is only one human in the whole movie who displays any goodness or nobility-- but he does so only after he becomes an alien.  Think about this.  I wish that there was a joke in there somewhere, but there isn't.



(1) You're not going to believe this, but that paragraph is almost completely true.


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http://twitter.com/thelastpsych
















Comments

I am the person Blackwater ... (Below threshold)

August 29, 2009 6:20 PM | Posted by wikus, aka USA: | Reply

I am the person Blackwater of whom you speak and it is good to see there are some people who understand the Jean-Claude Van Damme of it all. Well done.

Vote up Vote down Report this comment Score: 1 (3 votes cast)
this is so funny.... (Below threshold)

August 29, 2009 6:56 PM | Posted by mel g: | Reply

this is so funny.

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Yes, you saw a different mo... (Below threshold)

August 29, 2009 11:32 PM | Posted by Jason: | Reply

Yes, you saw a different movie to the rest of us. I think you need to watch it again! Maybe your post is complete sarcasm, I can't really tell.

The name of the movie is a reference to District 6, where the story played out in real life:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/District_Six,_Cape_Town

I also got a Palestine-Israeli vibe. But i think the director was trying to be ironic. Black South African soldiers where abusing the aliens, like how white south African soldiers were abusing the black people in District 6 only decades earlier.

Prawns refer to a large locust type insect only found in Johannesburg.

Those guys where not a Blackwater (Xe) type organization, they were based on Executive Outcomes:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Executive_Outcomes

Despite being portrayed as bad guys, in reality EO could have done a lot of good in Africa and maybe even prevented a genocide if the UN had not interfered.

There are hordes of Nigerian illegal immigrants in South Africa. It is not implausible that they controlled District 9. I am not sure what statement the director was making by casting the Nigerians as gangsters. Recently there has been a lot of violence against illegal immigrants in South Africa.


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Why the relatively low rati... (Below threshold)

August 29, 2009 11:35 PM | Posted by NosnhoJ Divad: | Reply

Why the relatively low ratings? Are we not human? Do we not snark? WTF! This post is brilliant. I am almost entirely rendered. Speechless. In Gaza. BTW ... the bush misadministration did NOT hate robots. They hated polishing the robots. After all those turds ... they were so done with polishing. And here was the biggest one of all.

Courage.

Vote up Vote down Report this comment Score: -1 (3 votes cast)
Sometimes you are beyond co... (Below threshold)

August 30, 2009 12:01 AM | Posted by Acorn: | Reply

Sometimes you are beyond comprehension.

Vote up Vote down Report this comment Score: 5 (7 votes cast)
Why was the Down syndrome r... (Below threshold)

August 30, 2009 8:11 AM | Posted by Dan: | Reply

Why was the Down syndrome reference necessary for the review?

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What is ironic about that s... (Below threshold)

August 30, 2009 9:28 AM | Posted by OS November: | Reply

What is ironic about that second to last paragraph in your review is that you too display no goodness or nobility. There was no reason to insult people with Down syndrome and it is very hurtful to them, their parents, and friends, etc who read this.

Vote up Vote down Report this comment Score: -11 (13 votes cast)
I rather enjoyed District 9... (Below threshold)

August 30, 2009 11:03 AM | Posted by Dim Bulb: | Reply

I rather enjoyed District 9 and yet I am only slightly dim-witted.

Vote up Vote down Report this comment Score: 5 (5 votes cast)
Whenever you write about we... (Below threshold)

August 30, 2009 11:03 AM | Posted by Mike: | Reply

Whenever you write about weed you're really brief and snippy, I was wondering if you could do an article where you more fully articulate your opinions on cannabis, medical or recreational.

This is a good review; it's pretty much in line with my cannabis-fueled interpretation of the movie.

Vote up Vote down Report this comment Score: 2 (2 votes cast)
I can't tell who's a troll ... (Below threshold)

August 30, 2009 11:56 AM | Posted by wewewew: | Reply

I can't tell who's a troll and who's just an idiot anymore.

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What is this I don't even</... (Below threshold)

August 30, 2009 12:33 PM | Posted by Yuri: | Reply

What is this I don't even

Vote up Vote down Report this comment Score: 1 (1 votes cast)
True Blood reference? I wo... (Below threshold)

August 30, 2009 12:51 PM | Posted by Ernunnos: | Reply

True Blood reference? I would love to hear your take on that.

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In an article that lampoons... (Below threshold)

August 30, 2009 12:59 PM | Posted by titmouse: | Reply

In an article that lampoons millions, someone takes offense and a clause that links "Down's syndrome" with "retarded"?

If the goal is compassionate care of people with Down's syndrome, cranky over-reaction to the borrowning of medical terms concerned with mental disability for use in a non-medical, humerous context isn't going to help.

Vote up Vote down Report this comment Score: 7 (11 votes cast)
Simultaneous adulated incoh... (Below threshold)

August 30, 2009 1:28 PM | Posted by unknown: | Reply

Simultaneous adulated incoherence on at least three levels FTW!

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This is hilarious.... (Below threshold)

August 30, 2009 1:42 PM | Posted by Holly: | Reply

This is hilarious.

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I love it when things happe... (Below threshold)

August 30, 2009 1:47 PM | Posted, in reply to unknown's comment, by MIke: | Reply

I love it when things happen on "levels"

because it means the person who said it is smart and thorough in their critique

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I find it hilarious everyon... (Below threshold)

August 30, 2009 2:05 PM | Posted by Anonymous: | Reply

I find it hilarious everyone is getting insulted by the downs syndrome reference. The part about "taking your pants off in promise of porn" was okay but god forbid we use a diagnostic sign of downs syndrome as humor.

This kind of hypocrisy is what makes me hate human beings.

BTW, alone, I am scared for life after that masturbation reference. You get used to viewing someone in a certain way (i.e. with a modicum of professionalism) and then, right out of left field, suddenly you are knee deep in encyclopedia dramatica type humor. Ugh! Wut?

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Shoulda read first. Anon 1:... (Below threshold)

August 30, 2009 2:12 PM | Posted by Anonymous: | Reply

Shoulda read first. Anon 1:28 said what I was thinking except 10 times better.

Now that I think about it, I bet alone did it on purpose to highlight how meaningless and irrational our responses are (thus, our way of thinking). He talks about blacks, jews, (and as I previously mentioned sex/porn) but OH NOES NOT TEH DOWNS BABIEZ. Fact: people with downs syndrome become adults, they don't stay children forever.
This is the same thing that makes people on the internet freak out over any indication of animal abuse, but barely feel anything when they hear of human atrocities. It's ultimately a self-serving compassion because "cute" kittens (and babies) are kawaiiiii. OMG is this a subtle comment re: narcissism???//

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But is the review a thumbs ... (Below threshold)

August 30, 2009 4:08 PM | Posted by more anonymous than you: | Reply

But is the review a thumbs up or thumbs down?

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The Pirate Bay. Taking off ... (Below threshold)

August 30, 2009 4:40 PM | Posted by Basil Valentine: | Reply

The Pirate Bay. Taking off your pants in promise of porn. As any stoner will tell you "um... what?". But the real highlight for me was "I think we all know what this says about the Bush administration".

Like, you've made some pretty good jokes before, but they were kinda one-off. This is just gold the entire way through.

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My favorite part was "All t... (Below threshold)

August 30, 2009 5:31 PM | Posted by Anonymouser: | Reply

My favorite part was "All the while, they are relentlessly pursued by Wikus and the Fox News team, who shoot and kill everything in sight just to feel the blood splatter on their faces. It nourishes them." But the relentless critiques of the Bush administration and referring to the two aliens as the Districts were close.

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That's quite a long way to ... (Below threshold)

August 30, 2009 5:38 PM | Posted by robotslave: | Reply

That's quite a long way to go to say "I didn't get the joke," don't you think?

Even if you've never seen an early Peter Jackson film, and don't recognize the cues, your sense of camp should have been firing like a gatling gun from about 5 minutes into the film.

A humble suggestion-- maybe it's time you stopped chaperoning your teenage son to the movies, and let him go with his friends instead?

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"What is ironic about that ... (Below threshold)

August 30, 2009 7:37 PM | Posted by Honorius: | Reply

"What is ironic about that second to last paragraph in your review is that you too display no goodness or nobility. There was no reason to insult people with Down syndrome and it is very hurtful to them, their parents, and friends, etc who read this."

You and every person you represent should not be offended.

This passage was in fact a scathing critique of the Bush administration.

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The filthy critic called. ... (Below threshold)

August 30, 2009 11:32 PM | Posted by Anonymous: | Reply

The filthy critic called. He wants his shtick back.

http://www.bigempire.com/filthy/

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i agree with a lot of your ... (Below threshold)

August 31, 2009 1:12 AM | Posted by drugs are fun: | Reply

i agree with a lot of your comments, but i never saw the movie's focus to be on racism, rather it was a redemption story for wikus.

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You are either high or in n... (Below threshold)

August 31, 2009 1:54 PM | Posted by Anonymous: | Reply

You are either high or in need of neuroleptic medication... but this is a wonderful piece of subversion, Ionesco would be proud.

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maybe "Alone" isn't one per... (Below threshold)

August 31, 2009 2:03 PM | Posted, in reply to Anonymous's comment, by speculating: | Reply

maybe "Alone" isn't one person, but several writers?

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All in favor of HR.1743 Out... (Below threshold)

August 31, 2009 3:03 PM | Posted by Joseph Bergevin: | Reply

All in favor of HR.1743 Outlaw Discrimination, Ennoble Humanity And Make Everything Better Act say aye.
The bill passes.

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Or maybe he's imagining tha... (Below threshold)

August 31, 2009 9:24 PM | Posted by @ speculating: | Reply

Or maybe he's imagining that he's a different writer to improve his creativity.

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LOVED your review.... (Below threshold)

September 1, 2009 12:16 AM | Posted by paula: | Reply

LOVED your review.

Let's see--- We can't say N%$*er,
We can't say RETARD;
We can't say Fag%T,

But we can still say CUNT.
Hummmmmm.

I say freedom of fucking speech!
I am a liberal and i am sick to death of censorship.
Did you retards not comprehend George Carlin? Guess not.

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