Alyssa Rosenberg highlights an issue I’ve discussed here before: non-humans allow a barrier of safety for our minds to explore controversial or previously unacceptable ideas:

But I wonder if we might have more day-to-day depictions of genuinely working-class and poor characters if those characters weren’t always human. Obviously, the aliens inDistrict 9 are a metaphor for the impacts of apartheid more than anything else, but one of the means of enforcing apartheid was economic: the so-called “homelands” weren’t exactly rich in mining or agriculturally productive land, and people who lived in the homelands were treated as migrant workers when they took jobs outside of those territories. The prawns are scary because they’re aliens, but South Africa’s able to stigmatize them by economically isolating them, charging them insanely inflationary prices for the cat food that they prefer, spreading rumors about their sexual practices, confining them to substandard housing and then evicting them from it.

H/T The Dish