Written by Beverly Isom
Public conversations about race in America are still very difficult to have. Whether it is about immigration policy or a controversial movie. The history of African Americans in this country cannot be recounted without the brutal memories of slavery and the pervasive struggle for civil and human rights as a backdrop. As it should be—so it is no wonder that Quentin Tarantino’s movie, DJango Unchained has reignited emotional debate about a particularly shameful time in this country’s history.
In fairness to my blog co-authors, it is important to state that, “The views and opinions expressed in this post are solely those of the original author. These views and opinions do not necessarily represent those of Shirley Franklin, Blogging While Blue or any other contributors to this site.”
The fact that this post requires a disclaimer is a hint that it may join the fray of controversial commentaries about the movie. First, Quentin Tarantino is a director whose films are considered quirky, not made for children and incredibly violent. Reservoir Dogs, Pulp Fiction, and Django Unchained easily meet the criteria of classic Tarantino. And considering the deep racial divide in this country, I can understand critics who complain that the movie is too violent, too liberal with the use of the N-word and too steeped in fantasy to give slavery in America its proper shame. All legitimate points. As a descendent of slaves, I would never rely on Quentin Tarantino or any other director for my history lessons.
DJango Unchained happens in the South two years before the Civil War. Django is a slave who encounters a bounty hunter who helps him to find and to free his slave wife who was traded away.
The movie magnified slavery and its myths and legends to near lunacy levels. The satirical soundtrack throughout the movie was a comedic highlight for me. Musical artists from Jim Croce to Rick Ross for an 1860 period piece—-really? In simple terms, I don’t know how anyone could take it for anything more than an absurd parody. But it is also not lost on me that for many people, the movie went too far and we should not assume that everyone understands the economic reality that America’s wealth was built on the back of the slave trade.
There is nothing funny about slavery. And if you haven’t seen the movie, it is not Roots, or Eyes on the Prize. It is a movie, entertainment not a reenactment of the life of the actual story of Django. But the movie is not for the faint at heart—-Djamgo Unchained is more like “Django Off the Chain.”