District 9 is a film that focuses on how Aliens that have landed on earth, in South Africa, seeking refuge as their ship failed on their way to their home planet are separated from the humans and they are harshly exploited by the humans for their advanced technology. The film focuses on how the Aliens are othered by the humans. Othering is when one mentally classifies someone as being different from them or as not being one of them. The humans other the Aliens because the Aliens are technologically advanced than the humans, and because of this they place the Aliens in the slums away from the humans.
The Aliens are made to feel out of place and as if they do not belong with the humans byconstantly being referred to as the “Prawns” because they look like prawnsand thiscompletely sets them apart from the humans whereby the humans do not want to be associated with the Prawns, implying that the Prawns are parasites that just feed off the humans resources. The word Prawn also implies that the Aliens are scavenges and as it is said in the movie by one of the interviewees “bottom feeders that scavenge the left overs”. This means that the Aliens are on Earth just to feed off the humans and take over their Earth as the word parasite implies. In the movie the Aliens are served eviction notices, to a distant place that is 200km away from Johannesburg. Meaning that the humans want the Aliens to be as far away from them as possible and the Aliens are made to live in segregation. The humans are biased towards the Aliens to a point where one of the interviewees suggests that the Aliens should be killed by saying “a selective virus, release it near the Aliens”. The word selective suggests that only the Aliens should be killed. This shows how the humans do not want to be associated with the parasitic Alien, that they find it best to want to kill them. The Aliens are given a specific term Prawns, separating them from the humans. They are segregated from the humans by being sent to a distant land.
The humans other the Aliens because the Aliens are not from the same planet as the humans, they do not look like humans at all and, they are more technologically advanced than the humans. In the movie one of the people being interviewed says, “If they were from another country we might understand”. This shows that the Aliens differ from the humans by origin. The humans see no relation to the Aliens and themselves. This is similar to how Conrad refers to the Africans in his book Heart of Darkness, as the prehistoric man who lived in an unearthly world. The humans treat the Aliens differently because they do not exist in the same world as the humans. The Aliens are also seen as a threat to human health and survival. One of the interviewees in the movie described the Aliens as “creatures” that were “very unhealthy, malnourished and seemed to be aimless”. This shows that the humans did not want to be associated with creatures that would make them ill or shift their focus. The humans also did not want to be associated with creatures that would not benefit them in any way. The humans continue to complain about how so much money is spent on keeping the Aliens on Earth instead of using that money to improve the lives of the humans that already exist in Johannesburg. This shows us that the humans see the Aliens as a burden and as an obstruction to their survival as humans. The humans feel threatened by the Aliens, how their technology is more advanced than the humans and they want to exploit their technology. In one of the interview scenes the interviewee says “their technology is actually engineeredin a biological manner to interact with their DNA. It just doesn’t work with humans”. This shows that the Aliens possess something special that the humans do not possess and because of this the humans see the Aliens as different from the Aliens. The Aliens are othered by the humans because they are from a different planet and they are a threat to the humans as they have an advanced technology system that the humans lack.
In conclusion the othering of the Aliens in the movie takes place because the humans see the Aliens as being different to them in that they see no relation to themselves and the Prawns. They are different in physically and mentally, but in reality they are similar because the Aliens share the same emotions as the humans, when the Aliens are separated from their loved ones they show the same emotions that the humans would express if the same were to happen to them. The Aliens are also intellectually inclined as they are able to reason for themselves. Something that is apparent with othering is that, othering may occur as a result of an individual feeling superior to the other. In the movie the humans thought that at some point the Aliens would not know what being evicted meant and that they would just accept, but they did not. Instead they resisted showing that they also have the power and self-realisation to know that they are being misused. We are all othered in some instances. I have been othered because of my skin colour at my old school, there were certain opportunities that I could not be granted because of my skin colour. The idea of othering exists because as it is in reality we are all different and we all view each other differently. The issues then lies in the manner in which we respond to those differences it is either we work with those differences or we work against those differences.
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