The importance of Django

Amid the controversy of BET running ROOTS 24/7 during the Christmas holiday was the opening of another bit of motion picture entertainment regarding slavery:  Django. There is a lot of buzz surrounding the movie starring Jaime Foxx.  Some have speculated that the reason that BET has decided to show ROOTS is because of the anticipated popularity of Django.  Others say it was because of the 35th anniversary of the mini-series.  I’ve already given my opinion on Roots so, I’m not going to beat that dead horse again.  I went to see Django and although it was my first experience with a Tarantino film (my son warned me that it would be bloody and often irreverent), I thought it was a very good and a very important movie.  The movie is important because it shows another side of slavery.  Americans like to anesthetize themselves by believing the myth of the “happy darky”.  They like to believe that slaves were under the benevolent care of their kindly masters who rescued them from a wretched and uncivilized existence.  Django is important because it blew the kneecaps off that myth.  There were many runaways.  People don’t run away when they’re happy and healthy.  And there were many rebellions.  The news of the rebellions were kept silent as much as possible to prevent more of them.  When someone started a revolt the punishment was so severe that it tended to dissuade other slaves from trying the same thing.  I’m not going to list all of the slave revolts (I’ll let you do your own home work) but they were important parts of American History that are not widely taught. Back to the subject of the movie.  Keeping in mind the context of the story (Tarantino land), I was able to not be so offended by the use of the “N” word, because during that time it was used more frequently than a name.  I didn’t like it, but it was used properly in that context.  The bloodiness bothered me less than I thought it would, but then slavery was an ugly, bloody business.   This is what Django did, it destroyed the myth that the slaves were happy, and stupid (Samuel L. Jackson’s character, Stephen,  was maniacally brilliant).  It gave a more realistic look at the savagery of the treatment (bare knuckle fighting to the death, ripping apart a human being by dogs).  To me, the most important thing that Django did was destroy the formula that has been used since the introduction of “Uncle Tom” by Edwin S. Porter’s Uncle Tom’s Cabin (1903).  In his book Toms, Coons,Mulattoes, Mammies and Bucks, Donald Bogle breaks down the formula that has been used subliminally and overtly in movies and television to keep the myths alive.  Even though, Spike Lee, feels that Tarantino, disrespected his ancestors with the movie, I have to disagree.  This movie pulled back the covers  and revealed another black man from that time.  Django,  a different kind of hero.

“The hunter is always the hero, until the lion tells the tale.”

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~ by Diva2de on December 29, 2012.

One Response to “The importance of Django”

  1. Well said. Spike doing himself a disservice by behaving the way he has.

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