04 - 10 Sept 2009 09
Y O U T H Z O N E
UK teenage girls 'worst drunks'
The comprehensive study of children’s well-being
in 30 industrialised nations found that drunkenness
among under-16s is twice as common in the UK as
A clever set-up falls victim to slipshod follow- oppressed like other minority groups. That
in America or France.
through in District 9, a sci-fi actioner that starts conceit powers the first act of District 9, as
In addition, Britain has among the highest
out as a genuinely disturbing treatise on bigotry Blomkamp and cinematographer Trent Opaloch
proportions of teenage mothers, youths who are not
before devolving into a violent blitzkrieg that, tell the story through documentary-style
in jobs or education, and single-parent families.
while well-crafted, lacks the inventiveness of interviews and fake television news reports,
The new report published by the Organisation for
the story’s earlier sequences. calling to mind the similarly novel narrative
Economic Co-operation and Development, a
Director and co-writer Neill Blomkamp’s techniques of The Blair Witch Project and
leading economic think tank, brings together data
occasionally probing parable of humanity’s Cloverfield.
from 30 countries around the world about the
callous treatment of a visiting alien race has As with the short film, District 9 creates a
welfare of the young.
obvious parallels with apartheid and inner-city bitingly satiric world where humans – not
It found that public spending on children in the UK,
poverty, but those thoughtful notions end up aliens – are the true monsters, exhibiting
at more than £90,000 per child from birth to 18, is
feeling like an excuse to get to the over-amped hateful, xenophobic attitudes toward our docile
above average, while family income is the eighth
battle sequences which dominate the film’s interstellar visitors.
second half. Unfortunately, these pointed thematic
But Britain ranks among the worst countries in the
The aliens, which are rendered through visual undercurrents take a backseat once the arrogant
industrialised world in a comparison of educational
effects and prosthetics, feel amazingly real Wikus becomes exposed to the alien virus,
standards, health and lifestyles.
from the first few minutes opening the door to a standard Fugitive-style
In “risky behaviours” – drinking, smoking and
District 9 may lack star power, but the film’s chase picture which involves Wikus
teenage pregnancy – the UK’s performance is
hip advertising campaign, effects-laden befriending a sympathetic alien who helps him
worse than all countries but Mexico and Turkey.
spectacle, and association with producer Peter take on the company’s gunmen while searching
Figures collated from schools in 2005-06 show that
Jackson (The Lord Of The Rings) will be three for a cure.
33 per cent of 13- and 15-year-olds in Britain had
major draws. The last time a studio released As Wikus, the unfeeling company drone who
been drunk at least twice, despite being too young
such a high-concept, no-star sci-fi film was comes to understand the aliens’ cruel plight,
to be served alcohol. Just 12 per cent of Americans
Paramount’s Cloverfield ($171m worldwide) in Sharlto Copley convinces in the film’s early
had done so, and 14 per cent of French youths.
2008, and Sony will need similar word-of- stretches. His smug, clueless behaviour is
Among British 15 year-olds, drunkenness was
mouth to help drive repeat business. pleasingly despicable, and later his change of
more common among girls (50 per cent having got
The set-up is that alien refugees landed on heart generates real sympathy. Unfortunately,
drunk at least twice) than boys (44 per cent).
Earth in the early 1980s, were rounded up and when District 9 requires him to become a high-
A fifth of UK 13 year-olds said they had drunk too
sent to a Johannesburg containment camp octane killing machine near the end, it simply
average of 75 per cent and only the US (57 per
called District 9. Now, 28 years later, Wikus seems like too much of a stretch.
Catch 22, a youth charity, warned: 'Unless we can
cent) has a higher proportion of children living with
(Sharlto Copley), an agent for a powerful The effects work is impressive. The aliens,
start to improve this situation the UK risks
a single parent or step-parents than the Welsh.
technology company which oversees the camp, which are rendered through visual effects and
becoming the bad parent of Europe.'
The OECD claims living in a broken home only has
is put in charge of a forced eviction of District prosthetics, feel amazingly real from the first
The report warned that alcohol abuse among the
a “small” effect on a young person’s well-being.
9’s citizens. But when he himself begins to turn few minutes, so much so that it’s almost
young may also be linked to violence, drug
It also suggests that the UK Government should
into an alien after coming into contact with a possible to forget they’re fabrications. As with
addiction and poor performance at school.
consider cutting the generous benefits given to
toxic liquid, he must evade his bosses who want the aliens, the movie’s other effects are all the
Meanwhile, 23.4 British teenage girls per 1,000
single mothers, as “there is little or no evidence that
to conduct deadly experiments on him. more startling because they seamlessly
gave birth in 2005, a teenage conception rate beaten
these benefits positively influence child well-being,
District 9 began as a 2005 short directed by integrate into the fabric of the story, particularly
only by Turkey, the US and Mexico.
while they discourage single-parent employment”.
Neill Blomkamp, which centered on the wry the creatures’ abandoned spacecraft that
Britain also ranked 20th out of the 30 in terms of
Overall, however, it urges policy-makers
premise that instead of being treated as a silently hovers in the Johannesburg sky.
“health and safety”, with infant mortality rates
worldwide to spend more on the welfare of the
frightening menace bent on destroying us, District 9 is showing at Dagenham Vue,
above average and among the lowest numbers of
young, particularly on disadvantaged children in
aliens would instead by viewed as second-class Dagenham Leisure Park,
toddlers being vaccinated against measles.
their first few years.
citizens once they arrived - marginalised and Cook Road, Dagenham, Essex, RM9 6UQ
The study also showed that 11 per cent of 15- to 19-
Dawn Primarolo, the Children's Minister, said: "It
year-olds in the UK were recorded as “Neets” – not
is disappointing to see the UK rated so low for risky
in education, training or employment – in 2006.
Only Italy, Mexico and Turkey recorded higher
But she added: “We have introduced a number of
numbers, and the proportion is still rising as more
initiatives to help teenagers and their families make
youths lose jobs and university places in the
informed decisions about their behaviour, including
the plans to introduce statutory Personal, Sexual
An analysis of family structures found that just 70
and Health Education (PSHE) lessons to equip
per cent of under-16s in England live with both
young people with the knowledge, understanding
parents, a figure which falls to 68 per cent in
and practical skills to live healthy, safe, fulfilled
Scotland and 66 in Wales. This is well below the
and responsible lives.”
alleged to have been an alcohol-fuelled meeting
was a remark about a black person hanging in a
One Oxford University Conservative Association
(OUCA) committee member resigned following
Students present said there was "a great deal of
noise" at the hustings for the junior officer
Now the university has forbidden the society from
using its name.
A spokesman said: "Following an investigation
about complaints of inappropriate and unacceptable
behaviour by members of the Oxford University
Conservative Association, the university has taken
the decision to withdraw the university name from
the association and withdraw their right to appear at
the Fresher's Fair for the coming academic year.
"The university would like to reiterate that this
behaviour does not reflect the way the
overwhelming majority of our students think or
behave, and the individuals concerned have
Scandal: Nick Gallagher, who told the offensive
resigned from the association. The university
'joke' at OUCA
strongly condemns any form of racism and
A university has severed links with its Conservative
discrimination and reaffirms its commitment to
association after students were embroiled in a race
promoting good race relations."
Two students were suspended from the Tory party
The Oxford University Conservative Association
in the wake of allegations.
(OUCA) has been asked to change its name
A Conservative spokesman said at the time:
following the scandal in June when electoral
"People who behave in this disgusting and
candidates were asked to tell "inappropriate" jokes
reprehensible way have no place in the
Among the jokes bandied around during what was
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