August 9, 2013

My 2009 review of Neill Blomkamp's "District 9"

Here's the opening to my long 2009 review in Taki's Magazine of the sci-fi movie District 9, directed by Neill Blomkamp, whose Elysium opens today:
... Yet, few Americans (except the black critic Armond White, who has made himself wildly unpopular with fanboys of District 9 by pointing out the film’s strikingly caustic portrayal of black Africans) seem to grasp writer-director Neill Blomkamp’s subversive perspective, even though the exiled Afrikaner keeps giving interviews more or less spelling it out. 
The American press constantly refers to District 9 as an “apartheid allegory,” but the 29-year-old Blomkamp was ten when Nelson Mandela was released. Blomkamp’s press statements can hardly be more explicit that the movie is largely a post-apartheid parable about illegal immigration and Malthusian despair. 
In fact, Blomkamp is personally a victim of the gradual ethnic cleansing of southern Africa. Rampant crime under the new black government drove his family from Johannesburg to British Columbia in 1997. 
But Americans just don’t get it because they haven’t paid attention to South Africa since 1994, when Nelson Mandela was elected President and then They All Lived Happily Ever After. Blomkamp told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, “Everybody in North America thinks of South Africa for white oppression of the black majority.” Yet, 15 years later, “what we’re not familiar with is this screwed-up Johannesburg setting.” 
Just as 1981’s Road Warrior, with Mel Gibson as Mad Max, memorably re-imagined the defining Australian experience of living on an empty continent, District 9 symbolizes the lesson of Afrikaans history: on an increasingly full continent, the weak can eventually triumph over the strong by outbreeding them. 
Much of District 9 is a video game-style shoot-‘em-up complete with the predictable teaming up of the rebel human hero and the single smart, nice alien hero (the Mandela stand-in) to battle the evil corporation. 
Nonetheless, what gives the film its distinctive ferocity is its bitter Malthusian wisdom distilled from the Afrikaner diaspora. History may be written by the winners, but some of the most bracing fiction—for example, Disgrace, the 1999 novel about gang rape in the new South Africa by J.M. Coetzee, the Nobel laureate who fled to Australia in 2002—is written by history’s losers, such as the Afrikaners.

Read the whole thing there.

By the way, here is a review of literary heavyweight (The Great Railway Bazaar) Paul Theroux's The Last Train to Zona Verde: My Ultimate African Safari, a trip through South Africa, Namibia, and Angola by Marian Evans in The American Renaissance. Like his mentor, Nobel laureate V.S. Naipaul, Theroux is something of a misanthrope, so adjust accordingly when reading Theroux.


Anonymous said...

"Did Germany cheat the world... including when they beat England in 1970 World Cup? Explosive report claims decades of doping"

"[D]evastating evidence emerged of a state-run doping programme that implicates the West Germans in cheating in their win over the finest England football team to leave these shores — in the World Cup quarter-final at Mexico 1970."

"Doubts over doping by German teams stretch from the 1950s to the 1990s after research by Berlin’s Humboldt University suggested the country’s taxpayers funded the systematic drugs programme.

It is even alleged that three unnamed West German players who lost 4-2 to England in the World Cup final at Wembley in 1966 were on the banned stimulant ephedrine.

The report says: ‘The hitherto unknown letter from FIFA official Dr Mihailo Andrejevic informs the president of the German athletics federation, Dr Max Danz, that in doping tests conducted by FIFA at the end of the 1966 World Cup, three players of the German team had “slight traces” of ephedrine.’"

"The report also implicated the 1954 West German team which unexpectedly beat the Magical Magyars of Hungary 3-2 in the World Cup final, known as the Miracle of Berne. It is alleged the players were not injected with Vitamin B — as was long suspected — but with Pervitin, an amphetamine-based drug developed by Nazi scientists to make soldiers fight longer and harder.

The drug — also called ‘panzer chocolate’ — was still widely available from supplies manufactured during the Second World War."

"All the players were given their doses with a shared syringe. Only a small number, including Alfred Pfaff, who went on to captain Eintracht Frankfurt’s 1960 European Cup finalists, declined the injections. Richard Herrmann, a winger, died of cirrhosis eight years later, aged 39.

The report, entitled Doping in Germany from 1950 to Today, also alleges ‘forbidden infusions’ were given to another World Cup- winning squad — the 1974 side led by the great Franz Beckenbauer.

This sordid tale of deception — ranging from football across all Olympic sports — shows that the true horror of Cold War Germany’s industrial-scale doping was not confined to the East.

The 800-page document reveals senior politicians, doctors and officials were involved in the fraud. The Interior Minister provided the money for research and administration of the illicit medication. The sorry revelations will not come as a total surprise in the world of athletics, given West Germany’s obsession with matching the success of their rivals on the other side of the Wall.

A senior sports administrator is quoted as saying ahead of the 1972 Munich Olympics that ‘one thing matters above all else — medals’. However, the relatively advanced nature of the doping, which encompassed early growth hormone drugs and EPO as well as stimulants and steroids, is more sinister than previously imagined.

Still, the scale of the operation is not comparable with the East Germans’ programme. The study says Dr Joseph Keul, head of the West German Olympic team’s doctors, who died in 2000, played a key role. In his lifetime he fought to get anabolic steroids removed from a banned drugs list.

The human cost of the programme is highlighted by Birgit Dressel, a leading heptathlete, who died of multiple organ failure in 1987, aged 26. An autopsy showed traces of 101 medicines in her body. The official report into her death concluded she died ‘due to unknown reasons’ but German doping expert Werner Franke said anabolic doping was a cause.

The final part of the study, examining drug use since 1990, has been suppressed. But the report quotes a senior sports federation official in the early 1990s as saying: ‘Coaches always told me that, if you don’t take anything, you will not become something. Anyone who became something was taking it (testosterone).’"

Anonymous said...

Steve, you've speculated before about Tiger Woods's possible doping:

"Skier Lindsey Vonn, Olympic star, saw notorious doping doctor in Germany at Red Bull clinic"

"America’s marquee Olympic star has visited the clinic of the East German doping doctor who played an instrumental role in the German Democratic Republic’s notorious, state-sponsored program to dope unwitting young athletes with hardcore anabolic steroids."

John said...

Might have to read that Theroux book. For the Namibia parts. I understand Lula once said - on a state visit to that country - that it was so nice he could almost forget he was in Africa. I might want to read about Angola, too; but not as much. I'm interested in the lusophone world, have visited quite a lot of it, but can't get stoked for Angola (or Guinea-Bissau). I'm not as old as Paul Theroux, and I'm not (yet) worried about getting killed, but Africa is just so damn awful. Who can work up an enthusiasm these days for visiting it?

Travel writing's heyday was a long time ago; I'd say the 1930's, you might say some other decade, but we'd agree it sure ain't now. Nor is it likely to pass into a new golden era. I suspect the only young people who could write candidly and hilariously of Africa nowadays are Chinese - but have they ever produced travel literature? They may be physically in position to do so, but not culturally.

countenance said...

I won't be able to see Elysium until next weekend, but from what I'm able to glean, it's getting a bad rap from the conservative media. I think Elysium could be the H.M.S. Pinafore of our times, an allegory about the hypocrisy of pseudo-egalitarian elitists, the "for me but not for thee" crowd. Of course, if that's the message that Elysium broadcasts, the only person in the universe of movie reviewers and critics that will get it is Steve Sailer.

Anonymous said...

I wonder what most of Lindsey and Eldrick's conversations are about, PEDs or Daddy issues.

Cail Corishev said...

I'm amazed that anyone still thinks that any athlete isn't/wasn't doping. That's kinda like claiming that your favorite rock singer never smoked pot.

Power Child said...

The links in that Takimag article STILL don't work...

Jokah Macpherson said...

So, is Elysium worth the price of a ticket?

My guess is "no" since it looks like a pretty worn-out theme and I don't like Matt Damon very much, but I'm holding onto a faint hope.

Whiskey said...

Yet Elysium is an open borders socialist movie with a non White majority underclass overthrowing a White one with a thin veneer of non Whites.

Dances with space stations.

Whiteness failed.

dufus maximus said...

"History may be written by the winners, but some of the most bracing fiction—for example, Disgrace, the 1999 novel about gang rape in the new South Africa by J.M. Coetzee, the Nobel laureate who fled to Australia in 2002—is written by history’s losers, such as the Afrikaners."

History is written by the historians, Steve. But you knew that.

Anonymous said...

Anybody but me object to the fact that pretty much EVERYBODY involved with Elysium, producers, director, stars... all live in a gated community?

I had enough PC glurk shoved down my throat in World War Z... won't be bothering to give Matt the Pious any of my money.

ricpic said...

Theroux cut his trip up the west coast of Africa short because he valued his own continued existence over completing the trip.

Anonymous said...

I thought Dark Star Safari was better than Zona Verde.

Dave Pinsen said...

Whiskey, must you post spoilers for a movie on the day it opens?

Anonymous said...

The only thing nice I can say about Disgrace, which I had to read in college, is that it is pretty short.

Sure, on some level it is honest about how awful rural whites are treated in modern South Africa, and how lawless the country is, and can be seen as a parody of extreme liberal guilt. Indeed, the fact that the main black African characters are brutally evil is a bit subversive.

But overall, it is a depressing novel where every single character is disgusting, weak, or evil.

The fact that the protagonist is an English professor, and that it is short, helped its sales as mandatory reading in college English classes.

Sam said...

Speaking of South African artist. Here's a S.A. rap band. Look at the background signs. The destruction and decay in the video. I believe it's on purpose. The band has a whole persona that seems, to me, to be related to Neill Blomkamp's "District 9".

The general idea of the video is to bash Lady Gaga who asked them to open for her. The response was negative. She called them racist.

Anonymous said...

Judging by the photos I've seen, the producers of Star Trek Next Generation should sue for the ripoff of the Borg look. Of course, a Borg is pretty much what Damon's acting talent is.

Jim Bowery said...

The 2 central immigration unrealities of "Elysium" are:

1) That technology cannot diffuse to people -- people have to immigrate to get technology.

2) It's ok to pay no attention to W. D. Hamilton's warning in "Social Aptitudes of Man":

The incursions of barbaric pastoralists seem to do civilizations less harm in the long run than one might expect. Indeed, two dark ages and renaissances in Europe suggest a recurring pattern in which a renaissance follows an incursion by about 800 years. It may even be suggested that certain genes or traditions of pastoralists revitalize the conquered people with an ingredient of progress which tends to die out in a large panmictic population for the reasons already discussed. I have in mind altruism itself, or the part of the altruism which is perhaps better described as self-sacrificial daring. By the time of the renaissance it may be that the mixing of genes and cultures (or of cultures alone if these are the only vehicles, which I doubt) has continued long enough to bring the old mercantile thoughtfulness and the infused daring into conjunction in a few individuals who then find courage for all kinds of inventive innovation against the resistance of established thought and practice. Often, however, the cost in fitness of such altruism and sublimated pugnacity to the individuals concerned is by no means metaphorical, and the benefits to fitness, such as they are, go to a mass of individuals whose genetic correlation with the innovator must be slight indeed. Thus civilization probably slowly reduces its altruism of all kinds, including the kinds needed for cultural creativity (see also Eshel 1972).

Hamilton, W.D. (1975), Innate social aptitudes of man: an approach from evolutionary genetics, in R. Fox (ed.), Biosocial Anthropology, Malaby Press, London, 133-53.

Steve Sailer said...

"The band has a whole persona that seems, to me, to be related to Neill Blomkamp's "District 9"."

Right, Blomkamp originally asked Ninja from the Boer rap group Die Antwoord to star in Elysium in Matt Damon's role. But Ninja didn't think he could handle an American accent. Then Blomkamp asked Eminem to play the role, but the American rapper said only if they shot it in Detroit.