studioshinnyo > War Against Reality

watch district 9 before reading
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Author:  Hotwire [ Sun Aug 23, 2009 2:41 am ]
Post subject:  watch district 9 before reading

(almost put this in omnimedia, but decided it was more of a rant)

Okay, this one is going around the block a couple of times before I get to a point. The point, anyway.

I saw district 9 today, and I plan to see it again just to soak up all the neat shit they put in the film. One of the disadvantages to visually deep movies with subtitles is that you miss stuff the first time round while reading. Sort of left me wanting more. So, I was reading some of the forum debates over the film later, and I was struck at a glaring hole in a lot of the arguments against the film. A lot of these were just obvioustrolls, (seriously, someone claiming to be a Homosexual Native American who doesn’t believe that a government would shove a bunch of aliens into a slum rather than deal with them? Obvious troll is obvious) but aside from those forum haunting plague rats, there were a lot of people who were annoyed with the alien technology’s ambiguity. Or what looks like ambiguity.

See, the argument seems to stem from the substance that kick starts the plot. The main character is serving eviction notices to the aliens and stumbles upon a tube containing a substance the main alien has been gathering and refining for twenty years. the substance alters his genetic code in such a way as to make him capable of using alien technology. Now, all the information needed to understand this film is there in the film. There might be exposition in some lost scene we’ll find on the DVD that spells some of the stuff out, but heres the thing other than a few obvious logic puzzles (Why did Wikus know Christopher’s name all the sudden? He went to district 9 in the first place to serve eviction notices.) the real reason people don’t seem to follow the movie’s technological puzzle- the reason the goo would let Christopher get the mothership moving.

It seems that a lot of people don’t know about molecular computers, nanotechnology and genetic engineering. Of course, if all I’d been shown most my life on DNA studies was a couple of people in a lab, looking at little circles smooshing together, I wouldn’t get any of that either. Fortunately, I had a Biology teacher who knew how to teach, and reading a lot of Michael Chriton’s work have given me a rough idea at what lurks on the distant edges of our actual technological capabilities. (remember when the idea of someone using CGI to doctor a crime scene video tape seemed ridiculous?)

Lets start with molecular computers. The basic idea is that there’s a upper limit to how fast we can make circuits with the current methods of wires transferring energy along switches. Size issues, and heat issues. So the theory that’s supposed to save us from the wall our computer technology is supposed to hit in a dozen or two years is replacing our circuit tech with one based on tiny liquid chemical reactions. Supposedly labs have had limited success and are advancing the process. Supposedly this is supposed to be our next big leap.

If it does, that will lead us to our next topic of discussion- nanotechnology. Tiny robots that do things like build more tiny robots that form parts like servos gears and eyeballs for bigger robots. A small army of microscopic robots injected into a persons bloodstream to do thinks like clear up arteries and stop heart attacks. Squirt nanobots on your car’s paint job with some raw material and they rework it into more paint and fix your wheels. All kinds of kooky stuff has been dreamed up on the subject. There is a large body of science fiction that uses it- and that brings us to the third topic of discussion.

Biological technology. Some call this the most mighty and awesome power mankind has ever possessed. We’re learning how the genetic code looks, and starting to see how some of it works. Before too long we’ll figure out ways to monkey with it. (pun fully intended) they’ve started to get how we make more DNA during cell construction. (that’s how the goo made Wikus’s arm change first; it was the first DNA on the body’s list to make more of. If it was broken or cracked, then it got the biggest first dose of the new alien DNA gene code.)

Hell, in a way George Lucas used biotech when he decided that the midi-chloride-whatever were the source of the force. I sort of wish he’d left it a mysterious magical talent, but hey, people have been begging him for thirty years to explain it. hard to not do it, I suppose. Also got the Christians off his back. I remember knowing kids in elementary who weren’t allowed to see Star Wars because the Force was a satanic whatzit. I kid you not. With the crap he caught in the 80s I would not be a bit surprised if that was a motivating… force. damnit

(one more Lucas aside… does Howard the Duck make George Lucas a Furry?)

So, that’s a peek at molecular technology. These theories are some of the most important steps in future technological advancement. This is where we are going. Its pretty intimidating.

So, considering these theories, we can guess that the substance Christopher was collecting from the discarded devices contained molecular technology. The alien tech wouldn’t activate unless it came in contact with the Alien DNA code. So, there’s a 20 year hunt for enough of this stuff to fill a tube that lets Christopher get his command ship up and running. He’s clearly in to computers, so lets make a guess that the substance was needed to run the command module’s computer system he needed enough of it to make a circuit board.

A lot of the people complaining about this seemed to miss the point of the movie. This was a story about a sort of stupid man who married a beautiful woman who was the daughter of a VERY influential businessman. This man, in turn gave Wilkus a job that he seems destined to fail at. He clearly does not want Wilkus in his family. A horrible accident happens on the assignment, and suddenly, Wilkus is forced to consider what the ‘prawns’ actual beings are. Because he’s becoming one. You see, Wilkus is a blind man. He has no conception of the ‘Prawns’ as thinking creatures. He’s used to dealing with a bunch of poor, uneducated laborers who got dumped in a place where they were exploited, and then discarded. They are addicted to cat food, which has some chemical that’s like crack to them. for twenty years they’ve devolved into a very horrible state. You see the way they live, and you can see why someone who didn’t understand- or someone who had deliberately closed their eyes to keep their own personal world secure- could grow to dismiss them as animals. Look at the man as he talks about the eggs burning. This is the same look of a child who’s putting firecrackers in an antbed, or burning bugs with a magnifying glass. Look at what I made go pop! Its okay, cause they’re not people. Its not even an abortion to him, really.

I imagine this is the same mentality that is behind most genocides. Look at the moment that Wilkus admits to Christopher and himself that District 10 is going to be a concentration camp. Watch his candyfloss worldview crumbling. Watch him struggle with despair. Watch him make the right choice in the end.

Some have tried to accused the movie of being racist. Of presenting the Nigerians as cartoon exaggerations. They’re referring mostly to the gang leader of the local cartel who is fleecing the aliens of their technology in exchange for their next cat-food fix. He’s a brutal bastard, no doubt. But claiming that his superstitious beliefs that eating alien flesh will give him the power to use their technology is far, far less ridiculous than the real world horrors such as some Africans believing that the rape of virgins will cure their AIDS. This movie is about how we treat each other. Everything done to the Alien’s has been done to man by man in the last hundred years. a lot of it is being done right now in countries like Africa... This is what we are already capable of.

Lets remember that we’re capable of charity, generosity and kindness as well. I think, looking around, that we’re starting to forget that sometimes. We don’t have to be the face of humanity shown in such harsh light by this movie. But I’m glad that the movie focused on the side it did. It makes me appreciate the other all the more.

Author:  Michael J Doyle [ Tue Aug 25, 2009 11:34 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: watch district 9 before reading

Probably be next week before I can get to a theater to watch it, but, whatthehell, I'll throw in two cents in the blind...

The previews and the promotional stuff bothered me more than a little bit. My first thought when I saw Africa in the background was, "Apartheid for aliens." Funny how, after seeing so much of people behaving like shits over the years (first-hand as well as from once-remove), I still hate being reminded that people still tend to behave like shits. :shrug: Maybe we collectively need to have our noses rubbed in it every once in a while, to remind us to do better...

Yeah, I've read Crichton, as well, and those of us who like to rearrange our personal universes for entertainment are going to catch on more quickly to a BioTech authenticator key than mundanes. I know of no ready way to correct the general deficiency in education, except by being ready to cite sources and patiently explain to them what they missed in what passes for school these days. (And, BTW, Lucas pretty much lost me when he sanitized Ep 4 so Han could chivalrously give Greedo a free shot... :roll: )

Complaints of racism? Right - as you pointed out, it's nothing Robert Mugabe hasn't been doing to his own opposition parties for a decade or two. Going off-genre for a moment, I've heard idiots complain about the racism shown by Kowalski in Gran Torino - despite Eastwood all but hitting his audience over the head with the cluebat that it was a story about a racist who found himself almost unwillingly becoming a Man Who Learned Better. IMHO, the people bitching about racism are asshats who are dodging the issue - we are, all of us, ready, willing, and able to act like shits; race, color, creed, gender, etcetera have nothing to do with our shittiness. In reality, we are, to coin a phrase, all equally worthless...

Frankly, I like the idea of the POV character becoming The Man Who Learned Better. If it's somebody we find ourselves identifying with, it could just maybe remind us, even if just for a moment, that we should Learn Better ourselves...

Author:  Michael J Doyle [ Fri Aug 28, 2009 2:46 am ]
Post subject:  Re: watch district 9 before reading

Still running in the blind; however, here's an interesting juxtaposition from a Conservative online columnist:

District 9 as Post-Apartheid Allegory

Insufficient data to analyze claims... but, let's not automatically start screaming, "RA-A-A-CIST!", shall we?

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