District 9's Appalling Caricature of Nigerians sign now

Michael Lynton
Sony Pictures Entertainment Global Communications
10202 West Washington Blvd., Culver City, California 90232
Press Line: 310-244-7737
[email protected]

Dear Mr. Lynton, Neil Blomkamp and Peter Jackson,

I write you as a Nigerian about the direct reference in District 9 to a group of thugs, mercenaries, alien-mating prostitutes, witchcraft practitioners, and cannibals BY MY COUNTRY'S NAME, and to their leader by the name of our immediate past president. I wish to strongly urge you to mitigate the damage and potential harm that could come to Nigerians everywhere from your denigration of our entire nation in your recent movie. At a population of about 150 million, NIGERIA IS THE WORLD'S LARGEST NATION OF BLACK PEOPLE.

There is enough caricature of Nigerian citizens floating around without having to deal with mass dissemination of these patently false information through the cinema. It is not far-fetched to say that cinema represents a powerful medium, and has become one of the main means of information and cultural transformation in this age. Simply said, people take messages from these movies, especially if those messages are about people they love to hate. I am convinced that the message-relating potential of cinema is one reason why Mr. Blomkamp made District 9. Unfortunately, the message about Nigerians is not only unpalatable, it is untrue and most of all RACIST. This is completely different from the more familiar Italian Mafia or Russian mobs in many movies. Your depiction of Nigerians in District 9 concerned deeply personal character, belief and culture of an entire nation. I have read various articles about the movie, and Mr. Blomkamp's interviews in an effort to understand this treatment of my nation. A deconstruction of the movie shows that it relied on double-speak in almost all its aspects, but I will not attempt to present my views in great detail here.

The point of this letter is that District 9 depicted almost all its characters in both BAD AND GOOD LIGHT, EXCEPT for the NIGERIANS.

Please correct me if I am wrong, but these are the facts that stuck with me as I walked out of the theatre: (1) The only group of REAL WORLD people REPEATEDLY referred to in District 9 by their REAL COUNTRY were the Nigerians; (2) The NIGERIANS were also the only group in District 9 with NO GOOD SIDE to their actions. They were simply bad, beyond redemption. It is not just that this group of thugs were portrayed as Nigerians, but gory scenes of their acts were repeated again and again, and firmly tied to NIGERIA.

The deliberateness involved in portraying Nigerians this way in District 9 is all too clear, especially in a movie that relied on so much double-speak it's message is at best befuddled. In fact, Mr. Blomkamp says in one interview that: "It wouldn't be clear whether or not I actually had a message, but rather that all of these themes that interest me are being presented to the audience, and you can make up your own mind and you can view this hopefully in a somewhat honest environment." (see http://www.cinematical.com/2009/08/14/interview-district-9-director-neill-blomkamp/). Mr. Blomkamp asks the viewer to make "up your own mind". Perhaps this is true for all the other scenes, but the scenes tagged "Nigerians" were directly spoon-fed to the viewer, with nothing left to the imagination. Am I to understand that this is all that interests Mr. Blomkamp about Nigerians?

It is baffling that such RACIST scenes are presented in a movie intended to teach lessons about the "redemption" of an "indirect racist". I would like to ask Mr. Blomkamp to examine his heart and ask what lesson a Nigerian is supposed to take away from his movie. I am sure he will have no difficulty in concluding that this mass generalization of falsehood is a great damage to the soul of those concerned.

Please reply and let me know what you intend to do to mitigate further damage to the Nigerian nation from your movie. On the latter, I would suggest: (1) Editing out the offensive lines before your movie goes to video and TV; (2) Issue an apology, and a disclaimer to movie and news outlets, expressing regrets about this unfortunate aspect of the movie.

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