Applause for Django Unchained: My Thoughts

 

WARNING SPOILER ALERT

I went to see Django Unchained with my family today…when the movie ended , I clapped…not because I was so moved by the theatrical portrayal that is Django Unchained, but because that long azz movie was finally over.

Why is it that I left the movie Django Unchained feeling sooo damn insulted?.. I’ve been trying to wrap my head around it and here is what I can come up with.

The movie Django Unchained is so outlandish and so anachronistic that it almost comes off as comical or exploitative.  Slavery was not a comic book, slavery wasn’t a joke and above all slavery was not a western.

The seriousness of slavery and the horror that African-American ancestors went through is demeaned by the manner in which this movie portrays slavery itself.  I don’t want to go into details, but pretty much all the movie contained was  fictional “Django,” and his white German friend shooting people constantly with ketchup-like blood splattering everywhere.

There were so many stereotypes in the movie from the Jezebel to the mammy too the mandingo…to the brute…to the Uncle Tom.  It was just insulting on so many levels and again even with a movie that has slavery as the CENTER PIECE of the plot…we still learn little to nothing about slavery from a historical perspective. It amazes me how time and time again movies that are supposed to be about slavery…really aren’t.

Even in the movie Lincoln, although in my opinion it was better than this nonsense…it still wasn’t perfect…even in Lincoln they glossed over the horror of slavery and when any one of the character would mention slavery, they would speak the line so quickly that you could hardly catch what they were saying…like Mrs. Keckley talks about being whipped…but she just says it so quickly before they jump to the next line you barely catch it…like it was MORE than glossed over…

But back to Django…if they wanted to portray an act of rebellion by slaves against the white enslaves…why not make a respectable, accurate and historical movie about the Nat Turner Revolt?…why exploit the history of slavery in such a way…

I feel like that movie was nothing more than historical porn…it’s like after you’ve eaten a bunch of junk food and then you get sad afterward because you just took in all these empty calories and you’re still not satisfied…that is how Django made me feel…

I learned NOTHING from that movie.

All that happened was that I left the movie with a headache and hungry.

Things That The Movie Made a Mockery Of:

1. Rape of enslaved Black women (nothing more than porn and pussy parties if we go by Django). We don’t really get the emotional side of the rape that the women endured. We are only shown how angry it makes Django to see his wife abused because well..she’s his wife…we don’t really get the emotional side of what it would have been like for the women who were actually being abused.

I felt like women throughout the film overall were nothing more than mindless props…

2. It oversimplified slavery itself…they made it seem like it was just “that easy,” for an enslaved African-American to just kill all the white enslavers and get away from the plantation…it was just that simple and easy really?…

3. The “fancy girls,” or I guess they were supposed to be creole fancy girls because they were speaking French…they were props too. They made it seem as if every fancy girl was happy and content to be used as an object of sexual gratification for white men. It’s true that sometimes consensual relationship developed between fancy girls and the men they were involved with…but often times fancy girls were sold against their will into sexual slavery…particularly in the Delta region of the south and were abused sexually constantly…but Django just made it seem like they were living it up…dressed in nice clothes, drinking fine wine as if they weren’t SLAVES still…I didn’t get that.

4. The house slaves…the house slaves were portrayed as double agents or Uncle Toms all throughout the film and it’s true that there were some slaves who were traitors and who sided with the white slave owners (whether under duress or of their own free will) but this movie made it seem like most house slaves thought that they were better than the other slaves and sided with master and from what I’ve read that does NOT seem to be true. Often times house slaves would overhear when a sale was going to take place or would relay information they overheard from the slave master to the slaves in field or in the quarters so that they could alert their family and friends ahead of time what was to take place. Some house slaves outright rebelled against the slave owners. So I think it’s just divisive to portray Black people who were house slaves in such a perfidious and myopic manner.

5. Female slave hands are all ugly and ignorant…well at least that’s the impression that I got from Django when he said (in reference to his wife Broomhilda) “oh she ain’t no field hand…she pretty and she talk well…”  So basically here we go again with the field vs. the house crap…so now women who worked in the fields were ugly and ignorant…??? Really???…like there were no ugly house slaves?… what I took from Django’s reference to the beauty of Broomhilda and her status as a house slave was that the female house slaves were somehow better than the field workers…hmmmm…

6. Why was the KKK portrayed in this movie when it wasn’t founded until AFTER slavery in 1865? 

7. Finally, someone please explain to me why in the hell does the character Django have to “earn his freedom,” from the white bounty hunter who so gallantly rescues him from the horrors of slavery…only to make him a slave to himself? Well yes, Dr. Schultz promises Django freedom, but only after Django pulls a magical negro and helps the Doctor with his bounty hunting tasks…huh? Why should Django have to earn his freedom…IF Doctor was so against slavery, he should know that we’re all born free and entitled to freedom…

Final Thoughts: 

I could go on…the whole movie was just a joke to me though…there were far too many laughs for a movie that is supposed to be portraying such a serious topic.

I would say don’t go into Django Unchained expecting any historical accuracy…there isn’t much and it would benefit everyone to read up on Slavery on their own because you won’t get much from the movie itself.

A Personal Note:

A few good things did come out of my watching this movie

1. I got to spend some time with my family

2. I was reminded of why it’s important to study African-American history on my own…so that I can challenge misrepresentations when they show up in films.

3. I got to see beautiful, dark brown skinned Black women on film for once. The sad thing is it takes a movie about slavery to show dark-skinned Black women. As if the only time Black women can actually look Black is when we’re in a subordinate position to everyone else…but what can I say? The portrayal of Black women left much to be desired, but at least they actually were Black and beautiful looking…which is more than I can say for a lot of other movies. *cough cough, Red Tails*

No the movie wasn’t horrible from an action standpoint…and like I said earlier it gives you that sugar rush that you may want…but does it really leave you feeling satisfied?..

Other Articles:

My Issue with Django Unchained

Tarantino’s Candy

Women in Lincoln and Django Unchained

OTHER POV:

Why I Liked Django Unchained

Applause for Django Unchained: My Thoughts

22 thoughts on “Applause for Django Unchained: My Thoughts

  1. Great post peanut. I never watch a movie unless i know the story behind it,especially with movies that say they are based on a true story.I will not see django or any other slave movie nowadays.The only movie that got close to portraying it right was roots.I love watching documentaries as well they seem to be more accurate than movies ever will be.It takes a black to show black history not some white person who is just going to water it down so it won’t hurt their people’s feelings.Some people just love a beautiful lie and can’t stand the ugly truth.I say give me the ugly truth and keep your beautiful lies to yourself.Based on what you say about the movie it has a white savior stereotype and every other sterotype then no i’ll never watch.i noticed dark skinned black women are mostly used for slavery films as well but i guess hollywood thinks they are not good enough to play roles like Nina Simone but some light skinned latina is smh.that proves in hollywood its more about what you look like and who you that gets you roles.

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  2. THE ALCHEMIST says:

    Don Johnson’s character “Big Daddy”(pimp name) is suppose to be a slave prostitute pimp. Which explains why when Django and Dr Shultz ride up to his plantation all the slave out in front are women. DiCaprio’s character is named Calvin Candie (pimp name) and his plantation is named candy land. He is dressed pimpish, has rings on his fingers and always drinks out of a straw (pimp swag). Tarantino’s love of 1970s blaxsploitation films is all over this movie. The black women were reduced to just eye candy.

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  3. Sharina says:

    And I was actually looking forward to seeing this movie. You know it is movies like this that lead white people to take slavery and the hardships of people of color as a joke.

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    1. Sharina,

      some people have liked the movie because they felt it depicted the harsher side of slavery, unlike many other movies that gloss over the violent side of slavery so as not to make whites feel guilty. there were some good and bad things about the movie, but overall, I thought it could have been done differently and better…maybe I’m just not a quentin tarantino fan. If you wanna see if, I say go see it, maybe you’ll get something out of it that I didn’t…but otherwise i certainly am not interested in seeing it again.

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      1. Sharina says:

        I think I will end up seeing it. It has a few of my favorite actors in this movie. It is always worth giving a chance.

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  4. Yuki says:

    As a non-white and non-black visible minority, I’d say she has a valid point on all these. AND YET, I encourage people to see this film. Why? 90% of the people watching this movie in theatres where I was were white. And they were laughing their ass off with righteousness whenever a cruel slave owner got killed. Why? Empathy. General sense of justice. If this movie were really promoting racism, people would squirm rather than laugh when they see an evil plantation owner get whipped (literally) by Django.

    Think of Tarantino what you will, but he is an *excellent* filmmaker with a real talent for character development and entertainment. One Tarantino film about slavery is worth more in terms of influencing humanity and racism than 100 intellectual, historically accurate documentaries that offends zero African Americans, which no average white person will ever see. You empathize with Django. Again, as an Asian, I find 10,000 things to nitpick about every non-Asian’s portrayal of my culture. But you know what? I’d prefer to see an imperfect but well-intentioned portrayal of my race rather than see us shut out from mainstream media altogether. I reckon this post shouldn’t discourage people from seeing the movie: you may as well see what other people are seeing so you know what is being said about this topic.

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    1. Sharina says:

      Yuki

      I would not say that it is promoting racism, but rather making a joke of slavery. Not to say I would not go see it. The mere fact that Tarantino decided to approach the subject in any manner is kudos on my end. I will admit I have not been a major fan of his films. I think Pulp fiction has to be the one and only movie I like of his so far.

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    2. FX says:

      “One Tarantino film about slavery is worth more in terms of influencing humanity and racism than 100 intellectual, historically accurate documentaries that offends zero African Americans, which no average white person will ever see.”

      @Yuki: I disagree and believe that people should boycott this film. Just because white people will go to see Tarantino films doesn’t mean that we should give him props for approaching the subject. If European-Americans can’t be bothered to learn about our history from Black-approved sources then that’s on them.

      Empathy? My ass. People laugh in those films because they can go home and pat themselves on the back for being ‘progressive’ cuz they laughed at the part where a slave owner got shot in an exploitation film. These are the same people who can’t be bothered to watch a documentary-which might make them a little uncomfortable-and want to go around telling black folks that slavery is over, racism is dead, and we’re just looking for stuff to be mad about and need to stop bringing up old shit. Fuck. That.

      In order for people to develop REAL empathy they are going to have to learn about the experience of REAL Black folks, not watch some over-sensationalized nonsense written by a race fetishist.

      I understand you don’t feel the same way-and that’s your right-but I for one am sick to death of seeing fucked-up, yet ‘well intentioned’ Black stereotypes over and over in films written by European-American people and then having people expect me to give them ‘kudos’ for including Black characters in the first place. No thank you. I am not giving my hard-earned money to support this nonsense.

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  5. Jerry says:

    I disagree. I thought this movie was well done. If you want a history lesson take a class or watch the History channel. The movie was made for entertainment. This movie was not about racism or slavery. It was more about revenge just like Tarantino’s other film, Inglourious Basterds. I thought the acting was great, the plot and character development was also fantastic to go along a masterful soundtrack. However, to be fair I am a huge fan of Tarantino. I am neither white or black so maybe my perspective is different because of it. I am Mexican-American and I enjoyed ‘Machete’ even though it made light of serious issues the Latino community faces. I enjoyed the comedy, the action, revenge, and how the audience can root for the main character.

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  6. paola says:

    I enjoyed the movie from a visual point of view and I loved the music and the western aesthetic. But you make some very good point, actually I think you are completely right.

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  7. paola says:

    I have to say though that one wouldn’t watch “Unglorious Basterds” to get informed about the Holocaust…it’s not serious, it’s more like a comic book. But, there are plenty of serious movies and books and documentaries about the Holocaust, and not so many about Slavery, or at least they don’t get very famous. But, despite all of its defects, this movie still shocked me and made feel like reading more about the topic.

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  8. Julio says:

    I don’t think Tarantino was intending to offend anyone, he mocks everyone indiscriminately, even himself. I think you’re taking him very serious. If the film was offensive or racist why would so many black actors be in it? Do you think they did wrong because they were on it? Do you think Jamie Foxx or Kerry Washington are racist and don´t accept themselves? As Jerry said, this movie is about revenge, just like Kill Bill. You wouldn’t say that movie was racist towards chinese or japanese people, would you? You wouldn´t say Django forms an stereotype of white people, portraying them as ignorants and racists, would you? To me, Django showed (even if it didn’t intended to) how wrong was slavery, how stupid and cruel it was. Whether you believe or not, all the people I know who watched it learned something about slavery and this film helped them to understand why it was despicable and senseless.

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    1. Peanut says:

      did i say the film was racist, i said there were some inaccuracies. and there are plenty of racist films that have black people in them, gone with the wind, song of the south…you can always find a black person who is willing to sell out for any amount of money, not saying that was the case in this film, but that is what we call “uncle tomming,” in the black community. so just because a movie has black people in it doesn’t mean it can’t be racist, that’s not a good parameter to judge racism by. if people really wanna learn about slavery, read a book, read the WPA slave narratives, read Harriet Jacobs or Frederick Douglass.

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  9. wilson says:

    I watched this movie a couple of weeks ago and it was better than I expected.

    I liked christopher waltz’s acting the most. I think Jamie foxx has also grown into an accomplished actor.

    In terms of its depiction of race, well I don’t feel I can judge that as honestly, I don’t know what it was like back then. What I know is white people like this movie and they don’t like other stuff that is along this line but more factually accurate. This makes me wonder why?

    I think overall a non-black person (lets say a white person) will enjoy these types of movies or productions if it doesn’t infringe on their sensibilities i.e. if it doesn’t make them feel somehow responsible and/or guilty for the atrocities of their ancestors.

    In this movie, there is no sense of shame, sadness or remorse for the situation of the black people. In fact I would say it is quite emotionless, it doesn’t really show the emotional torture that these people went through.

    I mean, the part about the KKK was comical to the point of being ridiculous. I am sure this wasn’t funny for people who actually had to deal with the KKK.

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    1. Peanut says:

      good point, for people who actually lived in fear of the KKK, it was probably insulting and the KKK is still in existence in the present day. One Louisiana governor came close to being elected and he was a former Klansmen. I really found in interesting that slavery was a central part of the movie, yet it was just a side plot and the film was more praised for bringing back the spaghetti western type of film. i think that is why maybe some white people liked it, because it was a western style film, i don’t think slavery had too much to do with liking it because people were laughing all throughout the movie. like i said, i have mixed feeling about the movie, i really don’t think it will do much to improve race relations and there was too much laughing for my taste for a movie about what should have been a serious topic.

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  10. Matt Evans says:

    I think you missed the whole point of the movie. This movie was meant to entertain its viewers not give them a history lesson on slavery. Obviously many of the historical facts don’t match the plot of the story because it wasn’t suppose to. If you really wanted to see an accurate depiction of slavery go watch a documentary about it. Personally I thought it was a solid film and didn’t mind the historical innacuracies.

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