Nigeria moves to ban District 9
Nigeria seems to be a little upset at the portrayal of a gang of Nigerians in the film District 9 (Filmstalker review). In the film the group of Nigerians, the only humans occupying District 9, are portrayed as the ruling organised crime gang, stockpiling alien weaponry, selling food illegally and overpriced to the aliens, running human prostitution and also the head of the gang is seen to be eating alien flesh to try and absorb their powers.
This has offended some Nigerians, particularly as the character of the gang leader shares the same name as the former President of Nigeria, Olusegun Obasanjo.
Now there's a bad choice of name if ever I heard one, and perhaps this is one of the main reasons for the complaints from the Nigerian government, who have told the Nigerian film and video censors' board to ask cinemas to stop showing the film as it denigrates the country's image.
Speaking to the BBC Nigerian Information Minister Dora Akunyili said:
"We feel very bad about this because the film clearly denigrated Nigeria's image by portraying us as if we are cannibals, we are criminals...
...The name our former president was clearly spelt out as the head of the criminal gang and our ladies shown like prostitutes sleeping with extra-terrestrial beings."
Oh dear me, come on. Well it gets worse, she's really on a run here and she's not giving up on the film.
"I have also formally written to Sony Pictures Entertainment, the company that produced this film, demanding an unconditional apology for this unwarranted attack on Nigeria's image."Further to that she's demanded that...
"...all offending portions that injured our image as a nation."
It seems that it's not really about the film though, Nigeria is going through a "rebranding" exercise and it's own film industry is on-board so any negative image is something that they don't want.
However the Malawian actor, Eugene Khumbanyiwa, who plays the gang leader sees it rather more simply and realistically, a bit like us all.
"It's a story, you know...It's not like Nigerians do eat aliens. Aliens don't even exist in the first place."
Well that says it all, and I totally agree. Should we not use any nationality to portray a group of bad guys in film for fear of upsetting someone somewhere? It is, after all, only a fictional film.