I love Sci-Fi. What about District 9?
August 14th, 2009Posted by: Theo Nicolakis
Confession: I absolutely love Sci-Fi. Qualification: I absolutely love good Sci-Fi. I don’t like Sci-Fi that uses tech and imagination towards its own ends or Sci-Fi that is not creative, clever or smart.
I grew up watching the original Star Trek. Yes, I’m a Trekki (or Trekker for the insiders). I digress.
I also watched the subsequent iterations and other Sci-Fi classics and not-so classics from Next Generation to Battlestar Galactica, to Buck Rogers, to Star Wars to you name it.
I’ve loved (and also disliked) some of the recent, quality Sci-Fi engagements. I name Battlestar Galactica (Sci-Fi Channel version) as a spectacular version that was engaging, perplexing, thought-provoking, refreshing, disappointing, often too-risque, and a show that had a great sub-theme that technology cannot act as an agent to transform the fundamental human condition. So, what happens at the end? Technology is abandoned and things are started new in this eden-like, baptismal/cathartic episode.
Which brings me to Peter Jackson’s new endeavor. Opening today is District 9. I haven’t seen it yet but reading the reviews, this looks like a refreshing contribution to the Sci-Fi genre. I won’t comment about the portrayal of gore, violence or anything else like that. Separate issue and conversation.
Rather, I’m deconstructing the reviews and it seems like some of the themes that can potentially make the Sci-Fi genre great might be present in this movie: What does it mean to be human? By advancing in our technology, what does it mean that we become “creators” and how does this relate to faith and religion? Does and can technology take away our humanity? How much “progress” is too much progress? Can advancements in technology become a means to amplify the darkest aspects of our sinful condition? Why do we fear what we don’t understand? And more.
Again, while I can’t condone the excessive, grotesque violence and imagery that has unfortunately become characteristic of some poor representations of the Sci-Fi genre, I do hope that District 9 provides a platform for some broad themes that can be critically deconstructed, analyzed, discussed, and even used in certain settings.
I’ve used Spiderman, Iron Man, and Lord of the Rings (to name a few) in some of my youth and young adult sessions. I hope that District 9 will be a good, thought-provoking addition to that arsenal.
As I’ve now been involved in ministry for over 15 years, I’ve become more and more of an advocate of using pop culture in our ministry outreach–but always using it critically.
So, Peter Jackson, I’ve been a fan of what you did with Lord of the Rings and King Kong, let’s hope you have another winner here.