“Django” is Tarantino Unchained

Just a couple of guys looking for White folks to kill.

Nothing says Christmas like a movie depicting Blacks as slaves, being torn apart by wild dogs, beaten and whipped, fighting each other to the death,  and repeatedly being called “NIGGER.”.   Is there a better way to celebrate Jesus Christ’s birthday than seeing Django Unchained?

Sure hope so.  I’m not the guy who tells others not to watch a movie he hasn’t seen himself.   I do not want to see Django Unchained and I won’t try to criticize a movie I haven’t seen.

But I’m very familiar with how Quentin Tarantino enjoys waving around his ghetto pass and gleefully drop “N-word” bombs in his movies.   He did it in  Reservoir Dogs.  He did it in Pulp Fiction.  He did it in Jackie Brown and he’ll be doing it on steroids in Django Unchained.

I’m curious what makes you think you call me “nigger?”

Django is Tarantino mashing up spaghetti westerns, blaxploitation and other genres he was fond of when he was still a video store clerk.  There’s nothing historically accurate about a Black bounty hunter running around the South with a kindly German (!) named Dr. King (ha-ha.  Real Funny, Quentin) Schultz killing White folks.  If that were remotely historically accurate it would be called “Nat Turner Unchained” and he’d be butchering White folks with hatches.

Go back through his filmography and you’ll see Tarantino indulging his Hip White Boy status.  He casually drops N-bombs like it ain’t no thing but a chicken wing.   Why?  Because he’s a critic’s darling and they give him a pass they would never give Spike Lee or any Black director.   Spike makes Do the Right Thing and he’s accused by hacks like Joe Klein of potentially starting race riots.   Tarantino makes a movie theorizing what Clint Eastwood’s Man With No Name would be like it he were a bad-ass Black man killing White folks in the South and Black folks are the first ones to line up to buy a ticket.   Whose fantasy is being indulged anyhow?

What is the least authentic moment in Pulp Fiction, the movie that put Q.T. on the map?  Not the stabbing Uma Thurman through the breastbone with a shot of adrenalin.  Not the anal rape of Marcellus Wallace whose ass is literally saved by Bruce Willis.  It’s after Vincent Vega blows Marvin’s brains out and they end up at Jules Winfield’s “friend’s house.”

The entire movie Jules is a bad-ass.  He takes shit from nobody, not even his boss, Marcellus.  Yet when he’s standing in front of his “buddy” Jimmy (played by Quentin Tarantino) he turns into a straight-up PUNK.

"It's okay if I call you "nigger" 'cause we're pals, right, Sam?"

“It’s okay if I call you “nigger” ’cause we’re pals, right, Sam?”

[Jules, Vincent and Jimmie are drinking coffee in Jimmie's kitchen]
Jules: Mmmm! Goddamn, Jimmie! This is some serious gourmet shit! Usually, me and Vince would be happy with some freeze-dried Taster’s Choice right, but he springs this serious GOURMET shit on us! What flavor is this?
Jimmie: Knock it off, Julie.
Jules: [pause] What?
Jimmie: I don’t need you to tell me how fucking good my coffee is, okay? I’m the one who buys it. I know how good it is. When Bonnie goes shopping she buys SHIT. I buy the gourmet expensive stuff because when I drink it I want to taste it. But you know what’s on my mind right now? It AIN’T the coffee in my kitchen, it’s the dead nigger in my garage.
Jules: Oh, Jimmie, don’t even worry about that…
Jimmie: [interupting] No, No, No, No, let me ask you a question. When you came pulling in here, did you notice a sign out in front of my house that said “Dead Nigger Storage”?
Jules: Jimmie, you know I ain’t seen no…
Jimmie: [cutting him off again; getting angry] Did you notice a sign out in front of my house that said “Dead Nigger Storage”?
Jules: [pause] No. I didn’t.
Jimmie: You know WHY you didn’t see that sign?
Jules: Why?
Jimmie: ‘Cause it ain’t there, ’cause storing dead niggers ain’t my fucking business, that’s why!    

What is the point of that scene?   Besides  Tarantino trying to make Sam Jackson his bitch while he screams “nigger” repeatedly.   Is it to set up something of importance?  Is it a key plot point?  Does it provide exposition or advance the story in a way, shape or form?   Or is it simply there for shock value?

There is a difference between using “nigger” to be historically accurate or realistic (Martin Scorsese knows how to do this and not be gratuitous in the usage) and doing it because Tarantino is one of those White boys who thinks he’s so down with the chocolate he has a ghetto pass to say what he wants and charge you $10 to watch him do it.

I say he doesn’t.

“Now, in this scene, I grab your gun and call you ‘nigger.’ Ready?”

If Tarantino really wanted to do a movie about a bad-ass brutha who kills White folks, nobody’s made The Nat Turner Story, but that’s a feel-bad, not a feel-good story.   The guy whose last movie featured machine-gunning killing Hitler isn’t exactly interested in historical accuracy.

I suspect if Spike Lee were to make a movie about a Black guy and his Jewish buddy were traipsing around Europe in WWII killing Nazis in bloody, graphically violent ways and liberating concentration camp prisoners, someone would say it was in bad taste.   There will NEVER be a mainstream movie made by Hollywood that correctly,  honestly and accurately portrays slavery in all its horror.   Blacks are either bystanders waiting for the good White folk to save us (Lincoln) or Black action figures playing out someone’s revenge fantasy (Django).

Blaxplotation was based upon the fact that Black people will pay good money to see their most negative stereotypes (pimps, pushers, gangsters) glorified as urban heroes.   Tarantino is simply the latest self-styled auteur to carry on the time-honored tradition of getting Blacks to embrace fairy tales as entertainment.

I like some Tarantino flicks and hate some others.  I can’t say whether Django is any good or not, but I know I have no interest in seeing it.  I’m just not feeling this movie.  I listened to a podcast the other day where two Black critics, one Latino and one White dude all agreed Tarantino used the racial epithet excessively and gratuitously.    Do I really need to hear “NIGGER” screamed at me in Dolby Surround-Sound for two hours and 45 minutes?

It’s okay if others do, but I do not.

6 responses

  1. Neither do I my brother. I can’t see paying money to be insulted, uncomfortable and embarrassed (embarrassed by sitting in the theatre).

    You are right in so many ways. Spike Lee gets taken to task for anything he does while other directors can do what they want with praise and without controversy.

    I would love to see a movie about Nat Turner. It’ll never happen. Why? Because its history that some folks don’t want to be reminded of. I’m really surprised Ken Burns hasn’t done anything on it. That tells us how much some people would rather not think about Nat Turner (and there were many other African Americans that revolted).

    I do like QT movies. I will wait for this one to come to Netflix though. That way I can just turn it off if the use of the N word is as bad as they say. I caught that NPR review also.

  2. I’m not a big Tarantino fan, myself. Too much gratuitous violence. The first I heard about “Django” was on a Letterman interview with Samuel L. Jackson, who plays…I’m going to try to be PC here; an old “house Negro” for DiCaprio’s character. Why, Sam L., why? I’m going to assume it’s for the paycheck. The whole premise of the movie seems cringe-worthy.

  3. Ronald McKnight

    Really? I movie about slavery and you want to sugar coat it? What do you think they called black folks in those days? For other movies, I understand your argument. If you felt uncomfortable about all the usage of “nigger” in Django, you’re suppose to be. If you feel offended by Samuel L Jackson’s character, you’re suppose to be. There is nothing sweet or comfortable about slavery. Our depictions of it shouldn’t be either. Whatever horrible things you see or hear in the movie, it was a hundred times worse. How are you suppose to understand your history black people when you can’t even face it?

    1. Hey Ronald, I get your point, but let’s get real. Django Unchained is not a history lesson. It’s not a documentary. Quentin Tarantino is not Ken Burns. It’s buddy movie/spaghetti western/revenge flick with uneven doses of forced humor and ugly, graphic violence and brutality.

      It isn’t that I’m “uncomfortable” about all the usage of “nigger.” It’s more than I consider over 100 usages of the slur excessive. Maybe that’s within your comfort zone, but it falls well outside of mine.

      This isn’t my history. This is entertainment soaked in blood and splatter. Let’s not get it twisted.

  4. [...] Jeff Winbush blog: “Django” is Tarantino Unchained [...]

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