Django:UnRacist 1/2-3/2013

Django: UnRacist [No Spoilers, I’m pretty sure… at least nothing specific]

I’m maybe a little late on this, but what the hell I feel the need to speak. Within the last few days I’ve read several posts about Django Unchained, mostly via facebook, which seem to be condemning it as a racist film. First I saw a post about the Spike Lee remarks, and then again on a few status updates. I’ve seen Django twice already, and what kills me is NOT the improper labeling of the film, but the fact that every source of this misleading assault has yet to SEE the film. What the fuck century do we live in!? Okay okay. Sorry I got carried away, but that just depresses the hell out of me. I have no problem with people voicing their opinions, but how do you voice an opinion on something you don’t know? This pre-conceived notion of racism really baffles me, but the lack of proper ‘research’ is downright disturbing.

So let’s get into it. Maybe the confusion lies with this simple fact: If you believe Tarantino’s new film Django is racist because it’s about racism then… YES. You would be correct. However, this does not make the film racist. So maybe you just misspoke, or maybe you’ve got your head up your ass. SORRY! SORRY! Gotta calm down and keep this impartial. That’s one possibility for these complaints. Another is that maybe you really think that Django is a racist film. Maybe you think it’s treating a serious subject matter in a very insensitive, exploitative or juvenile way? If this is the case, then by all means let’s discuss it! What’s so hard about having a conversation where people ponder things; utilize facts, and present valid arguments? What’s that called? Oh yeah, a discussion!

So the best I can do is give my side of the discourse. As I’ve said, I’ve seen Django twice now; First at a pre-screening with Tarantino himself, being interviewed by Elvis Mitchell. I was so thrilled, horrified, and mentally stimulated by this screening that I couldn’t wait to see it again, and got in line on opening day. With that being said let’s do a breakdown of these different emotions. Django is first and foremost a rollercoaster of emotions, but the most prominent being ‘Bad-Ass’. If I can call ‘Bad-Ass’ an emotion. And I just did. It is in my opinion that Django is Tarantino’s finest work since Pulp Fiction. Why? Because like all of Quentin’s films; it’s just plain cool on every level. It’s technically proficient in its cinematography, sound design, performances, editing, and most of all, its screenplay. Only there’s something more going on in this film than any other in his now lengthy body of work. It’s addressing a dark side (no pun intended) of America that most of us would like to forget ever happened.

There are scenes in Django that are just plain hard to watch. I wanted to turn away in disgust, but I watched on because I understood the importance of what I was seeing. People need to know just how bad things were for African Americans during this time in American History. These scenes are intermixed with comedy, drama, and action in a way that only Tarantino can deliver. And maybe that’s one of the problems? Maybe people just aren’t use to that kind of delivery of such heavy material. Think Schindler’s list would have worked better with more jokes and a few explosions? Probably not. On the other hand, I do think Django achieves something by delivering the material in this way. It engages you.

Anybody else see Lincoln (Spielberg)? Well we aren’t here to debate that film, save that for another time, but I reference it because it’s a recent film that deals with the same issues, but in a totally different way. Django seems to face the ugly truth of the world albeit with a certain kind of panache (inside joke), whereas Lincoln envelops us in a cloud of longwinded political legislation with the assumption that we already have historical context of the ugly truth.  So which is more effective? Personally I go with Django, for throwing me headfirst into a sick and twisted world that existed just before the civil war. Lincoln softly set me onto a hard wooden bench inside congress where I got to see nothing but old white men discuss politics (yawn). In essence, I think these films should be double billed. Go see Django so you can be like “WTF!? Look what awful deeds as humans we are capable of!” Then sit down for Lincoln and realize “Oh, that’s why he passed the 13th amendment…I guess we are capable of great things too.”

I think I’ve said enough so I’ll close with this. Quentin Tarantino’s latest film Django Unchained is a film that should be seen. Maybe you’re not keen on violence. And maybe you don’t like seeing Leondardo DiCaprio look so ugly, but hidden within this action laden tall-tale/love-story/buddy film is arguably the Director’s finest piece of work in regards to technical achievement, historical relevance and human reflection. The director has always given strong lead roles to both male/female white/black actors, and continues to push the envelope with his style and subject matter. I hope I’ve maybe persuaded some of you to see the film or discuss it with others, and most of all I hope I’ve made a strong argument for KNOWING WHAT THE FUCK YOU’RE TALKING ABOUT!!  Otherwise you just come across as some book banning/boycotting/burning lunatic akin to Ms. Farmer from Donnie Darko! And it’s that kind of ignorance, which leads to things like Racism.

Rose Darko: Kitty, do you even know who Graham Greene is?
Kitty Farmer: [scoffs] I think we’ve all seen “Bonanza.”

PS: Other things I wanted to talk about but somehow didn’t fit them in.

#1: Use of the word ‘Nigger’: If you find it offensive, deal with it. This film is a period piece. That’s how people talked! So if you take issue go back to listening to your rap music and…oh, yeah…

#2: If you want to make comparisons to Tarantino’s last work, Inglorious Basterds, then feel free but if you ask me that film had very little to do with WWII and a lot more to do with Film.

PS PS: I just busted this out in one shot, so excuse it if it feels like a rushed emotional rant. It is.

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