My thoughts on Django Unchained
P.S.: It's O.K. if you loved the movie, this is just my own personal take...
Django Unchained possessed all the elements to be a great film, a rare one featuring strong black characters set against the background of slavery’s filth. Instead, director Quentin Tarantino opted for a cheap emotional play, where deep-seated feelings about slavery are manipulated for quick laughs and entertainment.
As a fan of Tarantino films, I looked forward to watching his version of black characters on screen that didn’t follow the tired Hollywood ‘Save-a-Negro’ formula of whites rescuing blacks, such as The Blind Side, The Help, Dangerous Minds, et al. He missed an opportunity to showcase Jamie Foxx’s Django as a towering man of strength who would walk through fire for his wife Broomhilda (played Kerry Washington). Rather than explore that angle of love and passion, we’re introduced to a preening blue peacock atop a horse.
When the film did attempt to show the depth of evil in slavery, such as the forced Mandingo death fight scene in front of Calvin “Big Daddy” Candie (Leonardo DiCaprio), the metallic headwear worn by slaves, or a slave being fed to dogs for sport, the overuse of violence served only to reduce the scenes to unwatchable smut.
To deliver this slavery mocking smut fest, Tarantino tapped three actors who some would regard as black community royalty. It’s as if he knew he would need Foxx, Washington and Samuel L. Jackson as a shield for this shameful script. While watching the film I found myself searching for excuses to explain Tarantino’s actions, and then I realized I was really in search of an excuse for myself, an excuse that would explain my support for such trash.
The love story between Django and his wife was never fully developed; therefore the revenge level seemed disconnected. There was no redemptive value in movie, and I found it to be intellectually insulting to blacks. The ‘Kill Whitey’ narrative held no cathartic value for me as a black man, and only works if one assumes all black people hold hate and resentment in their heart for whites. Unlike Alex Haley’s Roots, this film didn’t seek to create a dialogue around healing, but functions only as an outlet to inflict harm and create strife.