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There’s no doubt filmmaker Quentin Tarrantino is no stranger to controversy, and he didn’t disappoint with his latest film, Django Unchained. The film, starring Jamie Foxx, Christoph Waltz, Kerry Washington, Leonardo DiCaprio, Samuel L. Jackson, and Kerry Washington is a cross between a Spaghetti Western and Blaxploitation film. Django, played by Jamie Foxx, obtains his freedom and becomes a bounty hunter partner and is focused on one mission: to rescue his wife, Broomhilda (played by Kerry Washington) out of slavery in the antebellum South.
Many people have held their breath and offered their commentary on the film, released on Christmas Day. Knowing Tarrantino’s works and his controversial portrayals of African Americans, along with his gratuitous use of the “n-word,” some believe Django Unchained is an irreverent, disrespectful portrayal of the horrors of slavery, comparing the work to Alex Haley’s Roots. In fact, filmmaker Spike Lee said he refused to see the film because he felt it was disrespectful to his ancestors. Some believed that we, as a country, have not evolved to the point where we can spoof slavery. Others hailed the work as a funny, triumphant story of the enslaved seeking vengeance upon the enslaver. Some appreciated the ironic themes Tarrantino placed strategically in the work and walked away feeling empowered.
I went to see the film on Christmas Day, with some reservation. I had an idea of what to expect, given the fact it was a Tarrantino movie, but other than that, I didn’t know what I was walking into. Part of it is because I refused to watch extensive interviews with the stars, the filmmaker or read any reviews from those who had seen advanced screenings of the film. I wanted my viewing to be as objective as possible.
I’ve had quite a few discussions about the film with my Twitter followers and Facebook friends and I started to notice a theme in some of these talks. I found that many balked at the film’s premise and some even had misplaced expectations about the film’s objective. For those folks, I make the following observations:
Tarrantino’s works are always controversial. Some people have very strong opinions about his stuff and think he’s always been disrespectful to African Americans in his films. Is that true for Django Unchained? I think that’s up to individuals to assess. I enjoyed it because I looked at the film from a deconstructive, ironic, and satirical point of view. But, I do get why people are uncomfortable with both seeing and enjoying the film. It’s mighty hard to joke about slavery when this country wants to forget it and banish it into the annals of history, all the while denying its present-day implications upon us all.
What are your thoughts on the film?