Archive for the 'branding' Category

District 9 movie marketing- will the political/ cultural allegories resonate?*

I have many (mostly) male friends, nerdboys of the highest order.  Like me, they collect action figures, watch Star Wars on a regular basis, debating the merits of the chapters, characters, arc and colors of the light-sabres and generally revel in the outright fantasy without guilt or embarrassment.

And rightly so.  They are some of the smartest, most successful people I interact with and I’m proud to stand in line with them for hours to get in to see Iron Man’s first showing.  However, they tend not to know too much about international politics, or at least don’t discuss it.

So when one of them, JET, came to me and insisted I watch a preview for District 9, I was struck by the plot and setting.  Aliens have landed, neither to hurt nor to help, they are refugees and are being kept away from humans in tin roofed shacks in a contained area in Johannesburg.  I didn’t need to wait to see the credits, hear the accents or even the remaining 90 seconds of the trailer to know that I was looking at Soweto.  It kind of hit me in the stomach- I wasn’t expecting this from what is clearly a sci-fi/ action film aimed at young men.  But the setting was striking.

It’s not a coincidence, the title refers to the District 6 township in Cape Town.  I wonder if the “9” is a nod to the ward in New Orleans.  The director is South African and the set design, terminology and visuals are striking to anyone who has even set foot in South Africa- during or after apartheid.  The psychic sucker punch were nearly identical images broadcast from the  Soweto riots of a year ago, where frustrated, unemployed black South Africans, afraid for what little they’ve been able to gain in the 13 years since Apartheid ended, began attacking the refugees from Angola, Mozambique, Zimbabwe and Nigeria… anyone who might take their potential jobs, or recognition they’d so long been denied.

I’m still unsure as to why this unsettles me so much or surprises me.  Comic books and science fiction have always been social and cultural mirrors disguised in fantastic situations and characters, but mainstream studios making the connections more obvious (think Iron Man, Stark Industries and Afghanistan) is intriguing.

I suppose there are several questions which I will chew over before and after seeing this film (I’ve never been accused of under-analyzing anything, including action movies).  The question I am mainly interested in opening for discussion is this:  are the studio execs putting their money where their mouths are in making some aspect of more mainstream movies politically relevant, are they not thinking about it, or do they think their audience won’t notice, or worse, won’t care?

Click here to see trailer.

*or am I imagining all of this?

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truth

“I've learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”

truth

Upon common theatres, indeed, the applause of the audience is of more importance to the actors than their own approbation. But upon the stage of life, while conscience claps, let the world hiss! On the contrary if conscience disapproves, the loudest applauses of the world are of little value - john adams
September 2017
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from the man who taught me everything:

“Be who you are and say what you feel because those who mind don't matter and those who matter don't mind.”

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