Alive in Joberg

After my last post I thought I might share another video by the director of Yellow, Neill Blomkamp. This short is titled “Alive In Joberg,” and it is an interesting inversion of the traditional Alien Invasion genre. In this case, the extraterrestrials arrive in South Africa circa 1990, their kilometer-wide ships blotting the sky and siphoning energy from power plants through a series of strange, black tendrils. And yet the creatures themselves are forced into the squalor of the South African slums, their equipment apparently so dilapidated that they are unable to leave. They suffer through the daily indignities of the incredibly impoverished, begging for water and electricity so that they might survive. The aliens thus become a canvas on which to project the atrocities carried out under Apartheid.

In the same way that George A. Romero utilized the Zombie to “…criticize real-world social ills — such as government ineptitude, bioengineering, slavery, greed and exploitation — while indulging our post-apocalyptic fantasies,” the Alien could be used to explore ideas of racism, classism, immigration-anxiety, and general social inequity, while at the same time providing the opportunity to make stuff blow up real good. Get on it, Hollywood!

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