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If life were a movie...

2009-09-04 11:54

After the big buzz, comes the backlash. The backlash about D-9 says it's unrealistic, simplistic, and full of stereotypes. So in a search for fairer representation in cinemas, I wonder: If my life were a blockbuster feature movie, which movie would I choose to star in?

Maybe a romantic comedy, in which I fell in love in about six weeks plus witty banter, have great sex and lived happily ever after? Nah. That's not realistic, is it. Notice how romantic comedies never, ever have sequels? That's because they leave out the part where the couple start fighting, cheat on each other and get divorced after two years – or settle into a peaceful routine of babymaking, television, and tedium to last a lifetime.  You've seen Marley & Me, right? Some people who've seen it are still in a coma.

So perhaps I could rather opt to be in teen movie where a misunderstood, rough diamond dancer Patrick Swayze meets me as an earnest 16-year-old nerd, teaches me to tango and breaks my virginity in an awesomely sexy romantic way? One problem: In real life, he'd have gone for my much hotter best friend.

Or how about the one where I'm a fighter pilot with a need for speed that nobody trusts until I score the hot chick and kill the imaginary Russians? In my dreams!

Or how about an old classic movie, like Breakfast at Tiffany's perhaps, where two lonely neighbours meet while she's really hungover and then fall in love, despite their troubled pasts and uncertain futures? Sounds awesome but we all know in real life they just shag a few times until he finds someone less complicated.

Ok, so how about a biopic?

Well I guess they're more realistic, but the idea of living in one is about as exciting as browsing other people's Facebook photos. Real life, fascinating as we ourselves find it, is really tedious. That, I secretly believe, is why relationships fail – it's not that we talk too little, it's that what most people have to say is mind-numbingly dull if you speak to them on a daily basis.

So movies that are only based on true stories are a hell of a lot more gripping than those that attempt to document the truth fairly.

I think that's why District 9 (so good it already has jokes and a nickname) is so much fun to watch. I trust that by now you have sat in a cinema with a whole bunch of other South Africans and laughed at yourselves and each other, that you've noticed how we're like kids when watching it; unable to stop talking during the movie. At the screening I attended everyone clapped afterwards – almost as if the director was actually a friend of ours and we'd been invited to the premiere.

D-9's story is a pretty simple one – as all the classic stories are – and full of our prejudices and fears. There are the stereotyped, parasitic Nigerians for comedic effect. There are the aliens that resemble giant insects, whose appearance blinds humans to their true nature. And of course, there's the loveable anti-hero who has greatness forced upon him.  

Sound familiar? Yes, and no. I mean, it's about us South Africans, but what did you really do today? Did you go sell body parts to Nigerians, or maybe tinker with your space ship? Or did you wake up, shower, wonder if you need to do last night's dishes right now, drag yourselves to work, mess around on the web for a while reading stuff...

See? I'm guessing nothing happened to you today that I'd pay R35 plus popcorn to see on a screen.

Which makes all the people whining on about how District 9 unfairly stereotypes Nigerians, Afrikaners, women, and Parktown Prawns nothing more than a bunch of intellectually lazy bores. Don't they get it? It's a movie.

Movies are not meant to tell us who we are, or tell us “the truth”. They're meant to help you figure it out for yourselves.

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