Saturday, January 19, 2013

Django Unchained

Sorry for the long delay but I've been distracted by numerous things as of late.  I just wanted to chime in on one issue.  Over the holiday I saw Quentin Tarantino's latest film Django Unchained, a violent epic about an escaped slave seeking his wife in antebellum Mississippi.  It's mostly an homage to spaghetti westerns from Sergio Leone, which blunts most of its historicity.  There's no way on earth white Mississippians, or Southerners, or Northerners for that matter, would have allowed a black man to walk around freely carrying a gun.  Not a chance.  They feared slave insurrections more than anything else.  They would have shot him dead at first sight.  That aside, the film gets one thing brutally correct: the horrors of slavery.  Tarantino depicts just how whites treated their enslaved people.  There's no paternalism or patriarchy on those plantations.  It's forced labor, pure and simple, no kindness or gentility at all.  The scene with so-called "mandingo fighting" where two slaves fight each other to the death is especially effective here.  Other moments such as when escaped slave D'Artagnan is ripped to death by dogs sustains this view.  It's a very unsettling movie and not for the squeamish.  It should promote more discussion in public about the relationship between violence and slavery.

It appears that one issue has already been raised and resolved.  Someone decided to make Django Unchained action figures.  Who thought this would be a good idea?  Al Sharpton clearly did not think so.  Thanks to him and others, these dolls have been pulled from the stores.  Thank goodness.  Here's a link: