The ban on District 9 in Nigeria is sad. They are upset claiming that:
...the film clearly denigrated Nigeria’s image by portraying us as if we are cannibals, we are criminals…The name our former president was clearly spelt out as the head of the criminal gang and our ladies shown like prostitutes sleeping with extra-terrestrial beings… -Information Minister Dora Akunyili (via /Film)
Sweating the Small Stuff
I love the phrase don't sweat the small stuff. To get stuck on the gang being Nigerian is to miss the commentary on the problems of apartheid and the problems that ghettos bring. The focus was not on the Nigerian gang it was on the social commentary. The use of a Nigerian Gang could have been replaced by any other if the setting of District 9 was in another part of the world. Watch the movie, ponder the deeper messages and don't sweat the small stuff.
The message behind it is what is important.
- The dehumanizing of another to allow for murder
- Be careful of religious practices that promote cannibalism for many reasons mainly it's just not healthy and it causes brain disease.
- Prostitution problems
- The deteriorating effect drug trafficking has on a populace by masking it in trafficking cat food.
The choice of having a crime syndicate be Nigerian makes sense within the context of the setting. All storytelling is lies and to make good fiction the storyteller must limit the number of lies in the story. We all know that there are not aliens living in a shanty town in South Africa. The true art is in limiting the false parts of the tale so as not to distract the audience from the message in the story.
If the writers made the crime syndicate American, Russian, Japanese or Colombian then the story would have suffered and the messages behind the story would be more obfuscated. The audience would have wondered why they were in South Africa and how they dealt with the South African crime syndicates without starting an all out turf war.
Crime Syndicate Not Representative An Entire People
A crime syndicate is not representative of an entire people. District 9 did not have a group of Nigerian people in the district they made it a Nigerian Crime Syndicate. There is a difference. To say that the movie is attacking the entire people is short sighted.
I would like to think that an audience as a whole would watch the movie and think wow that crime syndicate was bad and not thinking that represented all people of Nigeria. In a way, they have insulted the audience's intelligence thinking that the audience will mistake a counter culture for the Nigerian culture at large.
District 9 gave the audience a chance to look at the ugly underside of apartheid and demonstrating the problems that ghettos bring. The crime syndicate is Nigerian to make sense within the setting but the portrayal was to highlight the problems of crime and apartheid not to disparage a group of people. Mainly don't sweat the small stuff and have faith that the audience is smart enough to know that a counter culture group is not representative of a culture at large.