Author Ishmeal Reed’s Review of Django

Ishmael Reed  photo credit Mark Costani

Ishmael Reed photo credit Mark Costani

I had a pretty good idea of where “Django Unchained” was going from the first credit. It went to the Weinstein Company. The Weinstein Company once fought a legal battle (settled out of court) over the right to distribute “Precious,” which is, in my opinion, the worst film ever made about black life. The company’s name in the credits for “Django” also meant that the movie was aimed at a mainstream audience.

Though German, the bounty hunter character played by German-Austrian actor Christoph Waltz seemed to speak with a British accent, which is all the rage in the media, though I need subtitles to understand what Piers Morgan is saying half the time. The German dentist dazzles the screen with his eloquent talk and vocabulary and puts together constructions like “shan’t.” I would loved to have been present at the marketing meetings about this movie. The cynicism must have been as thick as cigar smoke. Jamie Foxx has been promoted as the star of “Django Unchained,” and has assumed the role as movie defender–the same role played by Viola Davis in the promotion of the equally offensive “The Help.” Foxx serves as a buffer between the producers and the wrath of blacks like those who attended a recent showing where the film’s writer and director Quentin Tarantino reportedly faced hostile questions from a black audience.

The real stars of “Django Unchained,” however, are Waltz and Leonardo DiCaprio. DiCaprio is master of a plantation where Django’s wife Broomhilda (seriously), is being held, and has apparently been passed around among the “Mandingos” who are trained to participate in slave fights for the entertainment of DiCaprio and his friends. The movie’s “star,” Foxx, is there for the audience that used to sit in the balcony at southern movie houses. He performs in a movie within a movie. A sort of “Harlem On The Prairie.” This was an ingenuous bit of marketing. “Django” was the talk among blacks during two Christmas parties that I attended, lured to the screen because Foxx was featured in the promotion. One woman said that she couldn’t wait to see the movie, which reminded me of a comment from a book called “When Time Ran Out: Coming of Age in the Third Reich” written by author and artist Frederic Zeller, who said that when he went to the movies in Germany, his being youthful and lacking consciousness led him to applaud the Aryans (he escaped the country in the 1930s and his parents died in a Nazi death camp).

The middle of  “Django” showcases Waltz and DiCaprio. They engage in a lengthy dialogue which includes references to Beethoven and phrenology, during which Foxx’s Django alternates between scowling and looking completely dumbfounded by the civilized talk. The DiCaprio character believes that there are wrinkles in the brain that cause blacks to be docile. Tarantino’s fictional blacks apparently lack that part of the brain that makes one compassionate. While some blacks are being brutalized other blacks go about their business. In one scene, a black woman is being whipped while nearby a black woman is enjoying herself on a swing.

Foxx’s role in the movie is confined to frowning and murdering lower class whites who, in this film, seem to be responsible for all of the brutality during slavery, while the planters stand by helpless and embarrassed by one of their number, the lone psychopathic, who, like the Nazi played by Ralph Fiennes in “Schindler’s List,” revels in cruel misdeeds. In one scene after two blacks have engaged in a brutal fight leaving one dead, one of the fiendish slave master’s friends shows that he was really turned off by the exhibition and has to have a drink.

Continue reading…. http://blogs.wsj.com/speakeasy/2012/12/28/black-audiences-white-stars-and-django-unchained/

Comments

  1. ‘Django’ is in the 1960s a ‘Monk’ Beatsers myth about these one, who can’t by ‘Warensubject’ means survive in other countries like Germany as a village menas white and real_political tunnels …like me,..my respect for this article!

  2. lmaoooo he said Precious is the worst film made of black life!!!—pink

  3. Overall I am actually tired of any type of slave plamtation massa boss movie.
    I thought ” Roots ” addressed all of this,plus ” Sankofa was also a great movie.
    What I notice in the case of a vast % of mundane,middle of the road black’s in this country.When phony hollyweird comes out with a movie this % runs to see it.
    Now,if and whenever a black movie maker has come out with a movie that might be little more positive or proactive when it comes to overall social condition of black people.
    These same black’s refuse to support the movie.
    Since Spike Lee came out against the movie.
    Some black’s are saying the usual dumb statement to justify this movie ” he just hating “.
    So I will no bet paying one licoln (freed the slaves )penny to go see this movie at all.

  4. cool – yellow

  5. @Est_Wood77 says:

    still going to see it! (007) hi hater

  6. Much as I think I’m going to dislike to do it, if I’m going to seriously comment, I might have to go see a matinee of this, so I can speak from a position of having investigated the madness for myself…u know, as in “no investigation, no right to speak?”

    However on the real tip – when in all the great wide world has a white person ever been an expert on knowing (much less telling) the true history the enslavement of AFRIKAN people – from the AFRIKAN perspective that s/he cannot possibly have?

    When on Earth has the wolf been able to interpret the dreams of the rabbit – except from the perspective of “run” (n*****?)

    That Tarantino would attempt to “tackle” the question of slavery at all should tell u something right there about how hard white supremacist arrogance is going to try to get inside your mind – and inside your pockets and your wallet…

    And although Jamie Foxx was supposed to have done a mind bending rendition of Ray Charles (again, I didn’t personally see the movie so I have no idea of how Charles’ doing shows in South Africa during apartheid was handled) even so, Foxx should probably have had his head examined doing a movie like this that was set up to fail in its objectives and probably destined to offend everything re: AFRIKAN
    people during the period of our global enslavement by Euro-America and their quislings.

    If Reed’s assessment is correct, why would he (Foxx) reduce himself to the dumb as a rock n***a follow white boy to freedom role?

    But then, if this thing is a box office smash, then its doing what it was ultimately constructed to do – and that is make money.

    If it wins an Oscar – or even gets nominated – we’ll all hear Willie Lynch rolling over in his grave and cackling w/ glee…

  7. Okay as my last statement for the revenge of 2012, I must give a Gypsee Gyptee Eletro Union_Ism with due words, that the ongoin reflection of being enslaved by such bodymenth, the question raise high on what a visual artist in thier tri_boo_nomie has to do more, then to get the budget filth of a beauty industry like actor_Ism has in common thier animale ideals, the box office will run Joe Lewis against Schmeling again for a hero is called Jesse Owen!?! Or what can the dilemma of a antiracist attitude bein Skinhead in the pre_1989s has for new Nazi waves in socialist mens kissins. My suggestion of bein an ilk who can’t remove and survive a foreign attitude, is the task of give the Umma liberation of such words the literacy of white has in roman_tie_Cism an push forward, let them know, that their fiscality has already nulls as UFO sets,…so my new luminaire Daddy Rich Davey D. and fellow of abstract commenting, a good sight of Mr. Reed has whispered the RAT off again. Revolution has working circles, community circles in temples,..and of ‘clock course the heart boompin pooompin love a Mum could probably give.

    My Respect!

  8. Deep

  9. I have yet to go see that movie… -watchme

  10. (Spoiler Alert) Don’t read if you haven’t seen the film. Review I found on the internet.

    The use of the “N” word is excessive and at times, unnecessary for the context to which it is spoken. First “Pulp Fiction” now “Django”. The “N” word is spoken over 100 times within the span of 3 hours, that’s a bit much. I’m beginning to feel that Quentin Tarantino has some sort of covert fascination with the “N” word and the only way to satisfy his intrinsic desire with the word, is to put it in his films because of course, he dare not say it himself for risk of public ridicule. The problem here however, is the excessive use of the word desensitizes the public to its belittling and dehumanizing nature. We already have a problem within the African American community and contemporary hip hop society of the “N” word being thrown around as a result of contrasting definitions and contradictory meanings—all stemming from slavery. The last thing we needed was this film to add to the dichotic conundrum of the “N” word.

    Kerry Washington’s character Broomhilda was grossly underdeveloped. Now granted, the movie was about Django, it’s still unfortunate that we never really got a chance to know and understand Broomhilda. A vast majority of her lines were nothing more than an ear piercing scream. Like so many other female characters in the movie, Washington’s character was minimized to a role of submission and servitude that lacked any real credence or substance. This submissive role parallels contemporary stereotypical gender roles that women are best suited for ornamental and not functional roles. They are often degraded to nothing more than s*x objects. Although the movie graphically depicted the various forms of punishment often experienced by female slaves for running away (branding, beating, etc.), the movie really didn’t address the fact that black women were often subjected to heinous s****l abuse at the hands of their white slave owners. Nor did it readily address the psychological and physical impact of s****l abuse on women and their families. Traditionally, the double marginalization of black women has been psychologically crippling and within the context of the movie, it would have been appropriate to shed some light on the issue.

    Stephen (played by Samuel Jackson) reminded me of a character in a black minstrel show. I would summarize his character as the ‘shuck and jiving’ Uncle Tom who is charged with the task of providing some sort of “comedic relief” and entertainment to a predominately white audience. The satirical approach to this controversial character overshadowed the seriousness of his submissive and subservient role. The attempted assimilative personality of this character, the denigration of his self-identity, and his subsequent acts of betrayal spoke mounds to the psychological infliction that has historically plagued many African Americans. All of which resulted from atrocious acts that occurred during slavery. Furthermore, there was no remorse, epiphany, or penitence of this character at the end of the film which is disheartening. His impeding death was even reduced to a parody so the audience never really got a chance to balance the good with the bad.

    The discussion of submission and the use of phrenology was unimpressive. Phrenology refers to the study of the shape and protuberances of the skull as a means of understanding mental capacities and character traits. For some time now it has been discredited, but I must applaud Tarantino for addressing phrenology, because although rarely discussed, it was often used as a means to justify the enslavement of people of African descent. However, the presentation of phrenology in the film was missing a very important point. The film focused on the interior of the skull and paired it with traits of submission but when phrenology was initially presented and popularized by Joseph Frances Gall, it focused on the surface of the skull and was more concerned with intelligence. This struck a chord with me because when I attended the movie, another audience member thought Leonardo DiCaprio’s presentation of phrenology was accurate and if they thought it, I wonder how many others thought the same.

    In conclusion, if we want our story told correctly, we should probably be the ones who tell it. Furthermore, there probably will never be a film that captures the totality of slavery. With that being said, aside from my disappointments listed above, the movie was interesting to watch.

  11. Scotty_Mack says:

    This article expounds on Reed’s analysis and fleshes out a lot of the deeply disturbing undercurrents of Django:

    http://www.counterpunch.org/2013/01/01/hollywoods-nigger-joke/

  12. This is a nice article -talkn

  13. interesting…-seeme

  14. To bad a vast % of black people fell for the media hype during this christmess non-sense and ran to some movie house to make some white man rich,while being called
    n-word right in their faces as so-called entertainment.

    ” All Art is propaganda ” W. E. Dubois

  15. Mmmh . . . it was like every other Tarantino movie for me, it starts off one way and then ends up with a bunch of blood and guts, accented with scenes and storyline to make people talk about it. cobalt.

  16. Tarantino used the institution of slavery as a backdrop to his movie so that he did not have to make excuses for the violence and brutality that he loves so much. Slavery is used as “Product Placement” to push his revenge narrative for his “Noble Savage” character Django.

  17. Django is basically the story of “King Kong” coming to New York and breaking his chains and wreaking havoc on the citizenry in order to get to his white woman played by the “Oreo” actress Kerry Washington.

  18. A vast % of black’s who watch all these phony movies coming from hollyweird hardly know anything about the noble savaged placed in these movies.
    To busy being suckered to go see them and miss all the distorted images right in their faces

  19. Tarantino is like a drug dealer, his movies sell like crack cocaine, to crack heads who just can’t get enough.

  20. Tarantino said that author Alex Haley let white people off the hook at the end of the movie” ROOTS” because when the slave had the chance to exact justice on his master he did not. Well in the movie “DJANGO” Tarantino also let’s white people off the hook by making his white audience connect with his white bounty hunter Dr. Character who spends his time civilizing Django like Europeans tried to civilize what they termed dark Africa.

  21. The civilization of Django made his white audience nostalgic about the good old days. The audience were made to feel good about themselves and the guilt of the history of slavery because their buddy the good Dr. was going to help poor defenseless Django get his revenge. But Django had to assimilate or be whitened in order to become capable of becoming a hero. The Dr. helping Django would make the white audience feel good about themselves and say to themselves “See white people aren’t so bad”. Without that character Tarantino would have forced his audience to face the she of our past.

  22. If Tarantino would have had it his way”DJANGO UNCHAINED” would have been called “NIGGER UNCHAINED”.

  23. Tarantino movies all are based on his anger and lack of forgiveness of his father who had not been in his life. That is why his movies have the same themes. When he comes to the point where he can finally forgive his Dad then his movies will change. And wont be just a vehicle to express his inner demons.

  24. He might be also mad at Wilt Chamberlin for having sex with his mother.
    I think that is where is hate for black men is really coming from.

    When these distorted movies come out I don’t have to see them or pay my money to make a judgement when I know this and other phony hollyweird movie makers have to put some twisted racist sterotype in the movie so people can run out,spend to money watch this madness

    • I’m boycotting everyone involved with that production. They will never see another penny of my money. I might give Kerry, Samuel and Jamie a Banana when I see them but that’s about it. Obama made it OK to abandoned your people to get what you want.

  25. I gave up on most of these movies years ago.At this point in time 2013 a vast % of black people have no problem in going to some white produced film from hollyweird that is full of slave type sterotypes and images.
    Then so many still like to say ” oh that is just entertainment ”
    It’s like to me a vast % can’t recognized when they are being tricked and bambozzled right in the head and in their faces.
    I wonder how many of these same black people would spend money to buy the book by Amos Wilson Called BluePrint For Black Power ” it’s a proactive solution to this crazy film.

  26. “Fox’xs role in the movie is confined to frowning…” I simply adore Ishmael Reed! Thank you for this!

  27. That so-called network is a joke. I wonder why do so many black people even watch or support these phonies.’The same phonies that used black’s to get their ratings established in the market.
    Once they did that, they got rid of black people like a bad disease.
    After that some black’s are grinning and lining up to see whatever phony media stuff they put on.

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