Friday, August 21, 2009

My First Sci-Fi Debate: Nerds Have The Most Fun

Tuesday, August 18, 2009, was a historic day here at Our Heroine's Parasol Emporium & Petticoat Junction, for on that day I received my best comment to date. The comment was in response to my angry screed against District 9, in which I complained that the plot has more holes than a yard of Battenburg lace, and then I enumerated the ones that chafed the most. However, later that day a reader responded in disagreement: he felt that the content of those holes had been more than implied by the writer/director. Here's what he said [needless to say, but, SPOILER ALERT]:
...First off, the ship was described as "in distress", which could mean any number of electrical or mechanical problems could have existed, and, when MNU cut into the ship, the lights were off and it was in a very large amount of disrepair.

Just because the engines are operational, does not mean that the life support and computer systems are online...

[you asked:] "Why did the aliens come here? Why were they all sick upon arrival? Who (and where) are their leaders?"

Again, this is where life support systems come into play. For arguments sake, lets say the ship was damaged by a meteorite storm (highly likely due to the ship's large size) Some of the compartments may have been torn open into the void of space, killing a good deal of the aliens, specifically the leader caste. Christopher is likely the sole surviving member of the crew, and therefore plotted a course to the nearest liveable planet (Earth)

While they coast, the Prawns multiply causing their living conditions to deteriorate.

The reason they left their planet in the first place could be any number of things (civil war, colonization, exploration)

Although the aliens are unwelcome, we cannot help them repair their ship and leave, for the sole reason that they are the working caste, not the thinking caste. Its pointed out twice in the movie that these prawns aren't noted for their intelligence, and are very gullible when it comes to the humans telling them to do things. Also, MNU is holding them there for experimentation and weaponry purposes.

As far as weapons go, i cant disagree with you there, but I can offer speculations as to why they did not revolt;

Without leadership the revolution would be doomed anyway.

The strict curfews and deadly force imposed by MNU prevented the aliens from even attempting a revolt.

And finally, they've been there for 28 years. There must have been multiple revolts that were immediately crushed by military force.

The Prawn derailing of trains can be summed up by the media using anything they can to blow it out of proportion, like the 911 craze where everything was suspected terrorist activity.

I thoroughly enjoyed District 9 and think it's plot held together very well. Apart from a few "wtf?" moments (grav-gunning a pig... really?), I thought the plot was really concrete.

LOLZ! Our Heroine forgot about the pig that got grav-gunned. For that alone I would have loved this comment. But beyond that, I've never had a commenter go to such lengths to understand and respond to anything I've written, and I was really pleased, even though I can't agree with him (but wish I could).

Here's what I wrote in response:
I grant you that things COULD HAVE gone down the way you describe, but they could have gone down in other ways as well, and my problem with the movie is that it didn't give me enough information, (whether that was deliberate or not I don't know) and left to my own devices, I drew totally different conclusions about the Prawns than you did.

For example, for a ship that was allegedly in distress, (maybe damaged by meteors) w/o life support or computer systems, it took off without any issues! And it had to have systems and life support if Christopher was planning on navigating it to his home planet and surviving the trip! (Or at least that's what I assumed based on what I saw)

And if the Prawns left their planet because something bad had happened there, Chris was real confident about being able to find help once he got back. BUT, if they were coming to colonize Earth, that's an act of war (making District 9 a POW camp).

In regards to your point that the media blew Prawn destructiveness out of proportion, I saw no evidence for that, and in fact the "scientist" in the "documentary" explains that their destructiveness appeared to be cultural/biological. I agree that it's possible it was all a big media frenzy; but I wasn't shown enough for that conclusion, and, in fact, to me the movie's evidence pointed to the contrary.

You describe a coherent narrative for the Prawns, and if the movie had provided some audio/visual evidence for what you describe, I would definitely have felt differently about it. But what it seemed to me was that the writer/director could not come up with a narrative that explained the ship (first being in distress and then working fine), the arrival of the Prawns, how they all ended up in District 9, Chris's intelligence, and the Prawn arsenal coherently, so he just left it vague and blurry and called it "art."

My final point: your post did a better job than he did!

His comment really did do a better job than the movie, and I would have liked it so much more if I'd seen in it what he did. But more than that, this comment made Our Heroine the happiest nerd on Tuesday, so...thank you, Matt!


Codie collins said...

Okay, so everyone here on this blog are really neglecting the main point to why the prawns are stuck on earth. When they showed up to earth, a small vessel unhatched from the mother ship and came down. It disappeared for 26 years. Christopher was one of the main engineers/pilots and he was stranded on earth because his small vessel was out of fuel. Not the big mother ship. The mother ship was having technical difficulties not crucial problems. It was as if there com lines were down. So with that, he hid the ship underground in District 9 while his people on the mother ship slowly died. For 26 years he searched for fuel cells from guns and old tech to fuel his ships fuel cell to fly it up to the mother ship, and ultimately leave.
This is more accurate the most of the speculations from people. I hope this clears things up. Thanks.

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