District 9 is a hard hitting mockumentary style film that tackles issues such as racism.
The film is shown as a mixture of a ‘lost footage’, and the conventional 4th wall editing. Although it may originally seem confusing that there are two different filming styles, the editing makes the transition seamless.
The news footage shows how closely events get followed, but beyond that it shows how much the news shows DO NOT document. The conventional parts of the film show what’s happening behind the scenes of what you see as the audience of a new show or documentary.
Racism is an issue that is present from the very beginning. Although at first it isn’t ‘normal’ racism between human races, it is still relevant to modern day racism. The Prawns are treated like lower class citizens. They are portrayed as scavengers, gathering up left over scraps that are not suitable to eat, but they have no choice. The term ‘Prawns’ in itself is a derogatory term, referencing to what they look like. The Prawns have very ordinary names, names that are most likely very common in Johannesburg, but they are not referred to as those names.
The Nigerians that are in the film are portrayed the same as the Prawns. They are segregated from the rest of the city by being in District 9 along with the Prawns. They are black market traders, selling the Prawns cat food in return for money or weapons.
The audience starts to sympathise with the aliens rather than the humans because of the way they are shown and treated. The Prawns are first portrayed as ‘the other’; not welcome in Johannesburg or in District 9. Further into the film you see the human like characteristics of the Prawns, they feel love and compassion, have families and just want to go home to their own planet. By the end, the military and the MNU portray more ‘otherness’. They have no compassion, love or tolerance towards the Prawns which you can see when they ‘abort’ the Prawn eggs and experiment on the captured Prawns