Sep 30 2009

The Themes of Hope and Despair in District 9


I finally saw District 9. An alien ship hovers, inoperable, above South Africa. After 28 years of conflict the ship’s inhabitants and their descendants have been rounded up and placed behind fences in slum-like conditions, where violence and crime are rampant. Over time the aliens became desperate, hopeless and violent.  The situation serves as an allegory for South Africa’s period of apartheid. But it also raises bigger questions. Wikus, a white South African government official, is sent into the settlement to inform the inhabitants that they are being moved. Unlike many of his co-workers he avoids hurting the aliens unnecessarily. He does not really see them as intelligent beings until he begins to stand in their shoes. In a search of a home he is exposed to an alien technology that causes him to begin to transform into an alien. Continue reading

Oct 31 2008

Anger, Despair and Hope in Metallica’s Death Magnetic


For a generation who grew up banging heads to Master of Puppets, Death Magnetic is a musical reprise. After St. Anger angered fans with what James Hetfield admits was “one dimension…This is anger and here it is,” Metallica seems to go for something more enigmatic and layered in Death Magnetic.

The theme of their new effort is death. Primarily inspired by the overdose death of Layne Staley of Alice in Chains, this album explores the motivations that might drive someone to self-destruct. Metal has been blamed for angry, anti-social, sometimes suicidal behavior. But, perhaps, metal can merely reflect back the anger and frustration people are already feeling. Continue reading