I'm not all that great at being uber analytical in posts, but District 9 was one damn fine sci-fi movie. Probably the best thing I've seen since Star Trek in May. What worked so well here was it stayed true to the heart of classic sci-fi - take a fantastic event and explore what the real world reaction to it would be while revealing integral elements of the human condition. A number of recent movies have taken the idea of documentary style footage and ran with it, including Cloverfield (which I hated!), but this one does it so flawlessly - security camera footage, news reels, interviews with experts and family, and field footage. And I believed every second of it - If aliens descended from the sky we'd round them up, put them into a ghetto, treat them as a disenfranchised minority, experiment on them and exploit their limited resources and technology. It dealt with human rights, weapons trafficking, morality, the sketchineses of the government, abuses of power - pretty much the works.
However, I did have a quibble with this very enjoyable, suspense/action packed sci-fi movie. Why did the alien hero have to be male? The aliens are portrayed as genderless insectizoid type creatures with relatively little knowledge of how to navigate their situation or the legal processses that are imposed on them by a government task force in charge of overseeing the slum they're confined to. I assumed at the start of the film that the aliens didn't really have genders since gender pronouns were never used to describe them and they don't have any obvious defining external sex traits. The government types mostly just shout "You! or "Disgusting prawn!" and things like that, which worked for me. We are introduced early on to the main alien character as one that is quite intelligent, but also is actively parenting a young offspring. The child is even used as collateral to try and blackmail the alien into complying with government demands. This parental relationship automatically caused me to assume that if the alien had to have a gender it must have been female, since it was the sole parent of this kid. Again, this is me imposing my own cultural assumptions about gender and parenting onto an alien species that might have no bearing at all to our own customs. And yet, imagine my surprise when it is later revealed that the alien is in fact male and that his name is Christopher. The human hero of the film refers to him in this way and the wee kiddo keeps calling Christopher "Father."
The movie then goes on to have Human Guy and Christopher join forces in an uneasy alliance to meet both their individual goals. Christopher is shown to be competant, compassionate, loyal, a dedicated parent, brave and interested in bettering the lives of his species. All "heroic" attributes, but not traits that need be necessarily male. When I asked Gus about the gender question he said, "Well, if the alien had been female than the Bromance factor would have been eliminated." Two male characters from different species join forces to save the day. Okay. I get the bromance thing. But what would have been problematic about Christopher having been female, a caretaker and also a kick ass motherfucker who saves the day? Gus said, "Well, then it would have been some weird interspecies romance." Why? Because there's a male and female? Do movies with male and female charcters automatically have to have some sort of romantic connection? Given the nature of the movie where the Other is a whole different freakin' species, would the gender have made any difference? Apparently, the connotations that gender bring to bear would have changed the dynamic of the protagonists according to Gus. Huh. Pretty fucking unfair, don't you think? I would have loved to have seen a Mama Alien whooping ass and taking names. I'm not really sure what my point is aside to say "That's bullshit. Why couldn't it have been female."
Have any of you seen a movie before where gender somehow gets in the way of the character dynamic? Are there any movies where men and women don't pair off, but are portrayed as equals or partners? Am I just crazy for wanting a kickass female alien?