In a previous post I provided some interaction with another commentator on the sci fi film District 9. Viewers and reviewers alike have noted its strong social commentary and critique of Aparthied, an irony in that the film has now become the object of international controversy for allegedly promoting national stereotypes.
Various news outlets are reporting that Nigerian officials take exception to the portrayal of Nigerians in the film as “gangsters and cannibals.” According to MSN Movie News, Nigerian “Information Minister Dora Akunyili has asked movie houses in the capital of Abuja to stop screening District 9 because the South Africa-based sci-fi movie about aliens and discrimination makes Nigerians look bad.” The piece goes on to say that Nigerian officials have asked Sony Entertainment for an apology, and to edit the film so as to remove the scenes with the Nigerians. In addition, critics have even started a blog devoted to the concerns called “Nigerians Offended by District 9.”
It is unfortunate that a film intended in part to combat racism and other social issues has become the focus of allegations concerning the perpetuation of stereotypes about citizens of a particular nation. But it is interesting to see how science fiction, allegedly escapist fare, has struck a nerve about very real issues related to the human condition.