Django…the D is Silent


I’ve waited a bit to reflect before this posting. There has been a lot of controversy surrounding Tarantino’s latest film, but it always is with him. This topic touches a tender place for African Americans so there will be some emotional responses. There are some who don’t want to talk about it and don’t want to be reminded- then don’t go see this movie…

I reserved judgement and viewed it myself despite the fact that some urged audiences to stay away, including Spike Lee whom I respect as a filmmaker and agree with sometimes regarding images in movies. For instance, I totally agreed with his concern about the use of “nigger” in Pulp Fiction. Tarantino played fast and loose with it and it did nothing to enhance the film. It began to actually hurt my ears (not one of my favs).

Back to Django. I did not have the visceral reaction that I half expected based on some of the chatter. It was a classic Tarantino, “spaghetti western”/revenge film that takes place during enslavement in the American south. The dramatic music, bloody violence, camera angles and unexpected humor. It was entertaining.

Why did I see it? I am a huge Kerry Washington and Jamie Foxx fan. At first, I was hesitant because it seemed weird/corny in the previews but I was curious. Would I purchase it? No. Would I see it again? No.

For anyone who thought that the use of “nigger” in this film was excessive, it was the 19th century in Mississippi (as well as Texas and Tennessee). Do not kid yourself! A person of African descent was called a “nigger” whether free or enslaved. PERIOD. We may not like it, but it is historically accurate.

I did appreciate the level of violence in the movie. I think that other movies have downplayed the brutality and degredation that was inflicted on millions of people (subhumans). People need to understand that punishments such as time in the “hotbox” were actually used.

There wer some specific issues that I have heard concerned people and I won’t detail them here. What I will say is that the audience can not view any non-documentary film (which is set in a particular time period) from a 21st century prespective. In other words, everything that we have learned about enslavement in America, we can not apply that knowledge to the characters in the film. They were living it and did not have the luxury of emotional distance and psycho-analysis. We have no idea what our mindset would have been if we had to endure the everyday atrocities that many managed to survive.

I do not believe that there is any agenda to promote racial inferiority that Tarantino is trying to advance. There is nothing in this film that is going to make a person’s views change. Now, if a bigot that sees this film, it could strengthen that person’s views. But so what! A movie isn’t going to change their ideology.

What I believe is Django is sparking discussion and debate. And I am hopeful that  it will ultimately make people learn more about this horrific system that boosted this country’s economy. Let’s not hold art and entertainment accountable for our eduction. Pick up a book. Learn some history.

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