Django Unchained Isn’t About Martin Luther King Jr.

OK, let’s get something straight: Django Unchained is not about Martin Luther King Jr, nor is it the black version of the epic The Birth Of A Nation. However, it’s a very timely film.

I doubt very seriously whether it was Quenten Tarrantiino’s intent to spark a conversation on race. But with his new movie Django Unchauined, boy did he ever. Having said that, I’m just going to go on record and say that if Jammie Foxx wins an Oscar for his role as Django, that’s when I’m going to start believing all this post-racial talk I’ve been hearing for the last four years. Now, about the movie, I’m not offended that the word “nigger,” is used 110 times. I have yet to see the movie, so I’m not sure why this may be offensive to some.What offends me, however, is that Django has excellent command of the English. No diss to my ancestors, but I’m having a hard time accepting the fact that a slave in the 1950s is able to understand that the ‘D’ in his name is silent. But hey, maybe I shouldn’t complain; yep, at least they didn’t make him come off a bit Green Mile-ish when there are black folks today who you’d swear they’re looking for Harriet Tubman when you hear them speak.

Now of course this movie has seen it’s share of controversy even before its Christmas Day release. In fact, I blogged about how “certain people” were a bit put off by a joke told by Jamie Foxx while hosting Saturday Night Live a few weeks ago. Yes, and apparently it’s beyond reason for an enslaved African with a gun to “kill all the white people,” like Foxx does in this movie. I suppose, to some, the notion of a slave murdering the un-melanined seems to be bad for race relations in America. Of course this was all bullshit, as I’ve already pointed out. That said, you can imagine my surprise when I heard that there were more than a few black folks who took issue with a few things in the movie. Not surprising, however, was the critique that came from my man Spike Lee, who believes the film is “disrespectful,” to his ancestors who were slaves.

This from Rolling Stone:

Although he hasn’t seen the movie, director Spike Lee tells Vibe that Quentin Tarantino’s new Civil War-era Western Django Unchained is “disrespectful to my ancestors.”

Lee, whose latest film Red Hook Summer deals with race and class in the South Brooklyn neighborhood, said he has no plans to see Django Unchained. He elaborated on his dissatisfaction on Twitter, writing, “American Slavery Was Not A Sergio Leone Spaghetti Western. It Was A Holocaust. My Ancestors Are Slaves. Stolen From Africa. I Will Honor Them.”

This isn’t the first time Lee has taken issue with Tarantino’s films, particularly when it comes to the use of a racial epithet that is used myriad times in Django and appeared frequently in Tarantino’s 1997 film Jackie Brown.

Lee spoke out about the film after apparently telling Django star Jamie Foxx that he wasn’t going to. In a separate interview withVibe, Foxx recalled an encounter with Lee at the BET awards saying, “You know Spike, he’ll let you have it whether it’s good, bad or ugly. And he said, ‘I’m not going to say anything bad about this film. It looks like y’all are getting it.'”

Now I respect Spike Lee, and I’m a huge fan — hell, can’t you tell from the banner above? — and he is of course entitled to his opinion. However, I don’t agree with his assertion. Why? Well, maybe I’m wrong, but I’d like to think that African slaves had more important things to worry about other than being called “niggers.” Was it degrading to them? Assuming that they had a grasp of the English language like “Django,” I’m sure it was. However, I’d like to think that they were more concerned about escaping the horror that was slavery, and maybe even trying to get a paycheck. The way I see it: What better way is there to “honor” our ancestors than to use a film to illustrate just what they endured for a very long time? Sorry, Spike, you’re my man and all, and like you I love the Knicks; but, until Kunta Kinte comes forward and says he feels “disrespected,” I’m not hearing you, bro. But Spike isn’t the only one, as I found out while watching Melissa Harris-Perry last weekend

Case in point, check out this from Melissa Harris-Perry:

This is where it gets really good:

After watching the above clip, this is where I ask something controversial: Would Ari Melber feel the same way about Mel Gibson’s The Passion Of Christ? If you remember, one of the selling points of that film, happened to be the all-too-real depiction of Jesus Christ’s suffering on the day of his crucifixion. What’s funny to me is that after watching Gibson’s film, many people cried and found a new appreciation for Jesus because of his suffering. For “Djjango” and the other people of African descent who were enslaved, however? Oh, that’s just a fantasy chock full of violent overkill.

So, for Melber who writes:

Django is fighting for his life against slavery, torture, rape, and murder, arming him with a moral clearance to go on a killing spree…

[…] The spectacle is more like pornographic violence than a dénouement, and even if the corpses are not total innocents, the nation’s tolerance for wanton, mass shootings is quite low right now.

[…] There is nothing to be gained from sanitizing our nation’s violent, racist history, to be sure, but Tarantino has shown that sensationalizing it is not worthwhile, either. That is unfortunate, because Django Unchained ultimately boils down to a tragedy in search of a point.

I suppose for him and others who share his opinion, the fact that a black man is doing the this killing makes them a little uneasy. I mean, lord forbid if someone makes a movie about John Brown, the white abolitionist who enacted his “vengeance” upon white men for no reason. Yep, for some, it’s as though Django should have employed Martin Luther King Jr’s strategy of non-violence. Because we all know how well that worked out for black folks during slavery. I’m sorry, but something tells me that Dr. King wouldn’t be above bussin’ a cap in more than a few asses to get back to Coretta.

Now I don’t know if Quenten Tarrantiino is racist; and, unless he makes a movie called “Dead Nigger Storage”, there’s no way for me to tell. That said, it’s hard for me to say that his gratuitous use of the word “nigger,” was just his way of getting his rocks off. Besides, in the interest of realism and historic accuracy, let’s just say that I expect to hear the word tossed around a lot more than it would be on a Chief Keef album. And as far as violence? Well, I expect to see more than the occasional foot of a slave being chopped off as punishment for running away; but hey, that’s just me. At the end of the day, if we cannot watch a film that contains a very gruesome depiction of the institution that was slavery without squirming. How then can we stop being a nation of cowards, and have an honest and meaningful conversation on racism? Oh well, lemme stop before my Drapetomania kicks in.