District 9 allows us to examine the distinctions between, and the overlaps among, the hysterically funny, hysterical anxiety, and mass hysteria not only as they pertain to a South African sensibility and setting but to an emerging, specifically South African, breed of science fiction.
A classic trope of science fiction films is mass hysteria about some kind of contamination, whether it be a medical pandemic (Outbreak 1995, Contagion 2011), a zombie infestation (28 Days Later 2002), or an alien invasion (Aliens 1986).
Wikus's own hysteria swirls around his exposure to and infection with the alien fluid with all the ignorance, repulsion, and denial that characterize the South African AIDS crisis captured in the Van der Merwe joke at the top of this piece.
Hysteria was originally the displacement, or the "wandering, " of the womb.
The movie sets up a traditionally essentialized relationship between hysteria and femininity, since Wikus's bodies shows all the signs and symptoms of the hysterical pregnant body but then explodes that essentialism because his body is not feminine--it is hermaphroditic and alien; that is, profoundly other.
A variety of local print media sources, from the Pretoria News to The Sowetan and The Sunday Tribune traffic in the terminology, with headlines reading "Mysterious wave of mass hysteria hits city", "Mass hysteria at Soweto school?
The press reports on mass hysteria clearly convey the failure to explain the events as a frustration of authority.
We can think, therefore, about mass hysteria as a situated resistance to the dispossession of the postcolonial experience, inverting Walter Benjamin's idea that the collective is also corporeal to suggest that the corporeal can also be collective.
Can we think of hysteria as a mass movement, not only a political one but also a physical one in which bodies move together or are moved to act?
The literature on mass hysteria considers factory and school to be analogous enclosed settings, and informs us of events "typically appearing in small institutionalised, social networks" (Rataemane et al).
The media spread the imagery, the language, and the mythology of the hysteria
about the deficit is a political ploy designed by conservatives and corporate interests to justify vicious cuts in domestic spending and to hack away at government regulations on the private sector.
The Columbine hysteria made life a nightmare for these kids, and drove the cost of being "different" way up.
The Columbine High School massacres in the spring of l999 triggered a national hysteria over that tragedy and the reasons behind the spate of horrific school shootings in America in recent years.
While they failed to stem the hysteria, they offered a powerful antidote for those who were willing to listen.