Sunday, August 23, 2009

Are We Truly Prepared for Contact: What District 9 Represents

This summer's alien offering, District 9, might have a little more gore and gristle than the typical Independence Day "time to meet the aliens" contact outing, but it also has a message that resonates on a deeper level: if contact is imminent and we are faced with the interstellar pot-luck that contact could imply, are we ready?

The film, which carries a very strong socio-political message about mankind's inability to tolerate and co-exist with the different factions and races within itself, raises a few strong questions that seem to go largely unasked in UFOlogical circles. One of these questions is very simple. Have we celebrated and glamorized the idea of contact to fantastic heights that will undermine the very event itself? What if we aren't looking at Adamski's and Meijer's visitor's. What if we aren't face with the Nordic visages of the Plaeidians? What if, in fact, OUR visitors appear grotesque and not humanoid at all? We as humans seem to have a hard enough time dealing with different colors, even deformities, but what about an extending pair of mandibles or a prehensile tail that can decapitate with the same lethal force as a grizzly bear? What if on top of their appearance they were more agile, stronger, faster, and prone to the same aggressive outbursts that we ourselves are privy too? Some race is bound to circumvent their own extinction sooner or later none the wiser?

Let's suppose that for one moment there is the possibility that they don't come bearing gifts. What if instead of handing out a Sear's Roebuck catalog of new technology and extending the olive branch, solving our problems, they need OUR help. Then we are faced with a slightly new Malthusian argument. What if they are seeking refuge or even sanctuary? What if we are looking at a planet-wide exodus where their surviving numbers increase our own by 20%? 40%? Our scientific pursuits aren't always altruistic. What if we had to divert our research to sustaining a population that explodes instantaneously?

I think a film like District 9 is meant to entertain the audience with sometimes a heavy handed undercurrent of introspection. It uses aliens, explosions and the fantastic, allowing us to look at our own prejudices through the shimmery veil of Hollywood. My final question, and one that might seem as heavy handed as the politic laden District 9, is this: Has the UFO community spun a veil of it's own, leaving us as unprepared and as prone to mistakes as the very real kind of antagonists that make District's conflict not only a plausible one, but perhaps a disappointingly prophetic one?

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