District 9 is a dystopia film which uses aliens to make a statement about racism. Dystopias allow the audience to experience a piece of their culture that is exemplified in a new light. District 9 portrays racism between humans and aliens, which are made to look repulsive to further the gap between the two groups. The aliens are made to look somewhat like huge prawns – which was used as a derogatory term – with antennas on their heads, tentacle-like things over their mouths, and huge wide spread eyes.
From the MNU executives to the people living in the townships all humans participated in the racism. At one point during the film a man from the township is being interviewed on the news states “If they were from another county I would understand, but they are not even from this planet at all”. This is a clearly racist comment that shows the thought process of racism; they aren’t like us and they don’t come from the same place, so therefore they do not belong. Racism breeds in misunderstanding. The humans are unable to relate to the aliens; where they came from or what they value. The humans are scared of the aliens, they do not consider them on the same level as humans, and they allow them little if any rights.
Through the film another theme develops out of the racism; that understanding is the key to defeating racism. While the main character,Wikus, is searching alien homes (participating in racism) he is infected with a liquid which begins to turn him into an alien. Quickly, the people Wikus thought he could count on, his work and family, turn on him and he has no where to turn but to the aliens who he was evicting earlier that day. In his terror and desperation to find a cure for himself Wikus befriends an alien named Christopher. Wikus learns that all the aliens want is to return home, something that as a human he would have never asked or known.
The scene in which Wikus’ reconciliation is portrayed is when the camera focuses in on his face and he had one human eye and one alien eye. He had sacrificed himself to help Christopher, and had resigned to either death or turning fully into an alien. In that shot it combines the two groups, aliens and humans, into one face; not only bridging the gap of appearances, but the misunderstanding as well.
Wikus had to turn into a alien before he was able to defeat his racism. Hopefully we won’t need to have such a life altering procedure to change our outlook. In order to extinguish racism we need only to be willing to understand each other and in the process racism will dissipate.