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Arts/Entertainment, The Movie Corner

Django Unchained: Controversy or Art?

Today I was privileged to see the blockbuster movie “Django Unchained” which has become increasingly controversial thanks to lead Jamie Fox’s comments on the Film and its release after the events of Sandy Hook. I’ll be doing a short synopsis (spoiler free as possible) on the film and how it relates to today.

I’ll begin by saying that I am a huge fan of Quentin Tarantino. His movies are masterpieces. Most people see them as excuses to curse and have graphic violence, but as a Film student and huge movie buff, I see them as arty satires of social issues with great writing and excellent camera and film techniques. Also, unlike most Oscar-nominated films, Tarantino films are a blast to watch, with plenty of comedy and action to satisfy anyone who watches it. He makes films for men; manly men! Of course, for each movie he makes, there is plenty of controversy that comes with it.

Several film critics have said that Tarantino’s newest movie is one of the most racist films of all time. That’s an easy criticism to make if you don’t understand the source material. Django Unchained is set in pre-Civil War America and tackles Slavery and Southern Racism head on and does not apologize. The word “Nigger “is uttered 110 times during the film, mostly by white people. It also shows graphic torture scenes of slaves, which were much worse than the “Zero Dark Thirty” torture scene. Tarantino has been criticized from both races for these two topics. However, these instances don’t count as racism; it’s historical accuracy. Slavery was a dark period in the time of the United States and Plantation owners and many southerners did not treat niggers like humans. (Note: Yes I will be using the word ‘Nigger’ to describe slaves for the rest of the article, because that is what slaves were called in the South. The classes for blacks in the South were niggers and freemen. Slave is actually a very politically correct term used in the North and after the Civil War, and was not really used in the South during the time of African Slavery. I mean no race hatred by using it and do not wish to offend anyone.) It’s supposed to affect our Hindsight Bias and take us back to an awkward time in our Nation’s history. History can’t be changed to fit our modern social terms. It’s appropriate to portray it graphically to prevent it from happening again. Also, Tarentino uses it to create some of the most comical and memorable moments in the film, demonstrating that it is are okay to laugh at history, a theme he likes to do a lot (Case in point:Inglorious Basterds). However, there is quite a lot of unnecessary racism towards the last ten percent of the movie. Without revealing too much, Django goes on a killing spree on white people and it seems like kills them solely based on skin color. This did not seem appropriate to the message the film had been building for the past two hours. To me, it seemed like this was reverse racism; that it is “okay” to kill white people because of slavery. That and Jamie Fox’s comment that “It was cool to be in a movie where I get to kill white people” after the film was released did not help either. It seemed to only promote racial hatred which is unneeded in a world where all races are legally equal.

Since it’s a Tarantino film, violence is also a controversial issue. However, this film was unfortunately released AFTER the Sandy Hook Tragedy, so the issue of Tarantino’s famous brutal violence hit a nerve in America and became a real talking issue. Some have called for boycotts of the film because of the violent material. However to anyone who knows Tarantino, they would know that he uses violence in a gross manner and as a satire. He does NOT use it to promote violence in the community (although, as I mentioned above, he may have inadvertently used it to cause MORE violence between whites and blacks.) Don’t get me wrong. Tarantino LOVES violence and will defend the violent content in his movies until his dying day, but it’s a metaphor to him about the human state of mind; we solve our problems through vengeance and destruction. It’s a common theme throughout human history. He also says his movies are for ADULT audiences, not for children who might still be impressionable as they develop their minds (more on this later). Django Unchained is no different. Most of the gunfights might remind viewers of a Gallagher Melon Sketch. One scene adds a whole new level to “Paint the house Red”. However none of these scenes motivate me to pick up a gun and kill innocent people. I realize this is a work of fiction and extremely unrealistic. Someone would have to lack a moral backbone to even think about committing an act after watching this film. Also, it felt very pro-gun to me, because it continually shows unarmed characters as being defenseless against the gun-toting baddies and those with guns are able to successfully protect themselves and save the day for the defenseless. I appreciate a film that doesn’t perpetuate the myth that Guns are evil and scary. I will say though…I laughed hysterically during each gunfight, while people around me didn’t  There’s either something wrong with me or everyone else…and I’m hoping it was the latter right now.

Now that the synopsis is over, let me get to the experience with the audience I viewed it with. For the most part it, the audience was split down the middle between white people and black people, which is unsurprising based on the content of the film. I did notice that I laughed at the same material that the blacks were laughing at, while the other white people remained stoically silent. In fact, barely any of the white people laughed during the entire movie, which is very sad. The racism was meant to be laughed at. One of the bits included a scene where a bunch of KKK horsemen are discussing how their white hoods are hard to see through. That is comedy genius, but barely any white people laughed because, and I’m only assuming, they were afraid of offending the black people in the theater, which in and of itself is racist. We as a nation should have gotten pass the point of racial insensitivity and a point where we should be able to laugh at our faults. I know I have. Besides the split audience, I was shocked to find there were children, eight kids between the ages of 0-14 I would guess, watching this film! I firmly believe that this film is far too graphic to be seen by anyone under the age of 17. The language, the violence, and the historical racism is way too mature for anyone attending junior high or below to see. Children are impressionable. If they see someone wielding two handguns blowing the guts out of people while screaming “MOTHERF&*^ERS!” I believe that might cause some social problems and desensitize these kids to acceptable behavior. Since these kids can’t see this film without a parent or guardian (there was a ticket taker outside the theater door who prevents underage kids from going in without adults) it’s purely on the parents. You may have also noticed that I but the start of the age range at 0. That’s because there was literally a couple WITH A NEWBORN watching this movie! I kid you not! I get that you’re a new parent and you don’t get to go out much, but that is the cost of being a parent. You have to look out for the child now. It’s responsibility! These parents obviously aren’t responsible. Now, you may argue that it’s a newborn and won’t remember the content. Still I think we can all agree it was unwise for these “parents” to do that. If I was the Ticket taker, I would have stopped them and told them they may not see Django Unchained with an infant, which in Florida you can legally do, under that infants may disturb the audience while the movie plays (which this baby did…thrice (3) times!) I gave them the evil eye as they walked out the theater.

I’ll end with this. During one scene the director makes a cameo in the film. This scene made it quite obvious why Quentin Tarantino became a director and not an actor. His act was ATROCIOUS! Still, if you are over 18 and you are either a fan of Tarantino or a big history buff, or you just a testosterone fueled male, I Highly recommend this film. It’s one of the best films he’s ever made and a sure classic in the Western Genre. Definitely must see, if you have the stomach to handle the content.

Discussion

One thought on “Django Unchained: Controversy or Art?

  1. Thanks for finally talking about >Django Unchained: Controversy or Art?
    The American Complaint Department <Liked it!

    Posted by info | January 29, 2013, 12:39 am

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