Global Issues in Blomkamp's Film District 9

Neil Blomkamp’s film District 9 released 2009, goes beyond entertainment and addresses issues in the wider community. The film calls into the question the reality of human nature and our need to be more powerful without consideration of the impacts or regard for other life. Blomkamp is also able to criticize not only the African government priorities and treatment of its people but also targets world leaders across the globe and their abuse of power. Blomkamp uses his film District 9 to convey how history can still be seen in the current society and the negative impact this is having. Blomkamp’s film District 9 can be seen as a comment to society as it addresses and criticises human nature, government and society throughout the film.

Blomkamp’s film District 9 highlights the problematic human need to be in possession of power. Humans use their power to establish dominance, emphasising how this problematic nature is harmful to everyone as it is established to influence and control large groups of people. This need for power and control over people is an aspect of human nature that Blomkamp criticizes, and this is seen in the science experiments performed on the aliens. Those in seek of power not only have the aliens to participate in the experiments they force Wikus to take part in these experiments that administer powerful electric shocks to him and kill a large number of aliens for no reason. The disregard for life in search for information and power has been seen throughout history, particularly during the WWII where scientists in Germany had little respect for life as they performed dangerous and life-threatening experiments on children and adults in search for information. This need for power aligned with the disregard for other forms of life slowly connects the audience to the aliens as they are displayed with more humanity than the humans which is ironic. As the aliens are exploited the humans become less appealing to the audience and this allows Blomkamp to raise his critique of human nature which is further emphasised as the aliens teach humanity. Humans are losing their humanity as they strive to attain a new level of power. This not only highlights the problem of human priority but the extent to which they will go to in order to achieve this power which completely dehumanises them. Blomkamp uses District 9 to convey the problematic nature of humans and how it is changing them to ironically become less human.

Blomkamp uses his film District 9 to critique the structures of South African government and their role in society. District 9 exposes the violence of receding and ascending constructions of the socio-ecological binary and thus undermine them conceptually. Throughout the film you can see how Africa’s history of segregation, forced removal and strategic impoverishment is exposed (Smith, 2009). The eviction notices sent to the alien population housed in immigration camps is a direct critique of the government abuse of power that would have been visible at the time. These characteristics are the result of the apartheid government that controlled South Africa. The private security firm within the film that controls contemporary slum settlement and the weapon trade signal Blomkamp’s apprehension of neoliberal forces in twenty-first-century South Africa 

The multinational united with its vague and pointed trademark represents the violent global corporations that resided in the democratic south African economy. This representation of a large multinational company makes reference to the increasing privatisation of law enforcement in a country that was notorious for its crime. The consistency of the slum setting throughout the film further reiterates the material continuation of old, uneven geographies as well as the thematic focus on weaponry that highlights and reflects the increased militarisation of neoliberal contexts where low wages and structural unemployment is handled with violence rather than improvement. This highlights how Blomkamp’s critiques current and past government structures and their power in south Africa throughout his film District 9.

Blomkamp uses various cinematic techniques throughout the film to raise the issue of past historical events and how they their negative impacts can still be seen today. District 9 can be seen as operating through the mechanics of ‘multidirectional memory’ in relation to the holocaust and the Algerian way. This link can be seen through the combination of violence, racism and visual monitoring travels. The audience is also able to see one traumatic even through another especially the south African apartheid period, holocaust and 9/11. District 9 utilises multidirectional memory to convey the aliens as the tropes of abjection, linking to racism. This positioning of the abject other is achieved through the various of modes of surveillance. The film also renders the aliens as disgusting abject beings, they are physically removed, not only from their spaceship but then again from humans and the rest of the world. The aliens are also put under immoral treatment, tortured in the guise of medical experimentation. The strategic placement of cameras that allow the audience to see this torture makes power secondarily allied to violence through the surveillant gaze. This surveillance of violence can be linked to the Holocaust tragedies where Nazi scientists not only performed inhumane experiments on Jews, Gypsies and the mentally ill but also filmed these recordings. This surveillance of violence is also seen during the instances of lynching in the US that was photographed. The torture of terrorist suspects held at US detainee camps post the 9/11 period was also photographed and recording. All these cases can be linked to the treatment of the aliens within Blomkamp’s film and this raises the critique of how not human beings were treated immorally they are dehumanised further through the surveillance with photographs and video recordings. Blomkamp uses District 9 to convey his criticism of how parts of history can still be seen today.

District 9 as a film goes beyond entertaining audiences. It is used by Blomkamp to make a comment on wider issues in society. Blomkamp is able to utilise District 9 to criticise the apparent need for power and control and how this strips away from their humanity towards everything around them. District 9 also brings to attention the failing government that has promoted violence and aggression instead of creating a liveable society. Blomkamp also uses his film District 9 to bring awareness to how parts of history are still being repeated through surveillance and acts of violence which is harmful to society. Therefore, Blomkamp uses his film to delve into issues present in society and become critical of them.


  1. Smith, David. 'District 9: South Africa and Apartheid Come to the Movies' (20 Aug 2009). Accessed 5 Aug 2016.
07 July 2022
Your Email

By clicking “Send”, you agree to our Terms of service and  Privacy statement. We will occasionally send you account related emails.

close thanks-icon

Your essay sample has been sent.

Order now
Still can’t find what you need?

Order custom paper and save your time
for priority classes!

Order paper now