Tag Archives: Django Unchained

Racialicious Links Roundup 2.21.13

Conversations need to be had. But they’re not happening because the talking will be awkward, heated or uncomfortable. So, stupid me, I’ve been thinking about ways to start these dialogues. It seems to me that there’s a continuum of ways to talk about race, gender, class and other hot-button subjects. On one end, you have a sort of emphatic sincerity and on the other, you’ve got the sharp blade of satire.

The sincerity paradigm has manifested in things likeImitation of LifeGuess Who’s Coming to Dinner orMenace II Society. Works in this tradition try to authentically highlight aspects of real life to create an enlightening melodrama. There’s an assumption of good faith that’s key to the success of this kind of work. Satirical creations throw good faith out the window. Things like The White Boy Shuffle, Bamboozled or Chappelle’s Show throw darts at the polite silence of mainstream culture’s inequalities. You may laugh, sure, but it’s always nervous chuckles that come with engaging with work like this. To some degree, the audience is a target of the joke, too.

What about games? One game that gets the sincerity angle right is Assassin’s Creed III: Liberation. It doubles as an earnest look at a moment in history and a game that draws on real-world racial dynamics to shape its mechanics. So there’s something on the sincerity end of the spectrum. But I think the issues swirling around sincerity are stifling increased diversity in game creators and characters. People don’t want to be taken the wrong way, especially if they want to make games that somehow touch on race.

In a recent interview with UK Channel 4, Tarantino stated his goals and interpretation of the Oscar-nominated film’s impact: “I’ve always wanted to explore slavery … to give black American males a hero … and revenge. … I am responsible for people talking about slavery in America in a way they have not in 30 years.”

He went on, “Violence on slaves hasn’t been dealt with to the extent that I’ve dealt with it.”

My personal biracial experience growing up on both sides of segregated hoods, suburbs and backcountry taught me a lot about the coded language and arithmetic of racism. I was often invisible when topics of race arose, the racial adoptee that you spoke honestly in front of.

I grew up hearing the candid dirt from both sides, and I studied it. The conversation was almost always influenced by something people read or saw on a screen. Media portrayals greatly affect, if not entirely construct, how we interpret “otherness.” People see what they are shown, and little else.

It’s why my dad forced me to study and value history from an absurdly young age — to build a foundation solid enough to withstand cultural omissions from the curriculum and distortions from the media. It’s what led me to become a teacher of American and African history out of college. There is a glaring difference in outlook between those who have mined the rich, empowering truth about how we’ve come to be, and those who just accept that there’s only one or two people of African descent deemed worthy of entire history books.

If, like Tarantino, you show up with a megaphone and claim to be creating a real solution to a specific problem, I only ask that you not instead, construct something unnecessarily fake and then act like you’ve done us a favor.

Tuesday’s late-night TSN Sportscentre was hosted by Gurdeep Ahluwalia and Nabil Karim. There was a backlash on Twitter in 2012 when Ahluwalia and Karim, who are both brown men, debuted with the network. Tuesday was just as bad for comments that, rather than put a damning label on people, should just be called dumb.

One has to wonder where people are coming from when they cannot handle having two brown men narrating sports highlights. One can understand a disappointed reaction upon tuning in and not seeing the familiar faces of funnymen Jay Onrait and Dan O’Toole at the anchor desk. But how does it go from that to this?

The report, released on Wednesday, said that the disappearances of some 149 people, many of them civilians, followed a pattern in which security forces detained them without warrants at checkpoints, homes or workplaces, or in public.

When families ask about their relatives, security forces deny that they were detained, or urge family members to look at police stations or army bases.

The group criticised former president Felipe Calderon for ignoring the problem, calling it “the most severe crisis of enforced disappearances in Latin America in decades.”

The report was a grim reminder of the dark side of the war on drug cartels that killed an estimated 70,000 people during Calderon’s six-year presidency. Enrique Pena Nieto, Mexico’s current president, has vowed to take a different approach and focus on reducing violent crime and extortion rather than attacking the cartels directly.

The Racialicious Entertainment Roundup 2.8.13

By Arturo R. García and Kendra James

So God Made A Latino Farmer: While most of us watching the Super Bowl were creeped out by the latest GoDaddy crime against humanity, Dodge tried to get slick with its “So God Made A Farmer” ad, attaching the words of right-wing radio host Paul Harvey to a collage of “heartland” images depicting the agricultural trade.

Only there weren’t any Latinos in it. At all. Even though 72 percent of farm workers are immigrants. So the video above is Isaac Cubillo’s remixed version, which strikes us as a bit more true to life than Dodge’s appeal to the CMT crowd.–AG
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Django Unchained: Coonskin Redux?

By Guest Contributor Paul Barrett; originally published at New Solitudes

Jamie Foxx in "Django Unchained." Image via Slate.com.

Jamie Foxx in “Django Unchained.” Image via Slate.com.

What I find surprising in the critical and personal responses I’ve heard to Django Unchained is the unwillingness to discuss what notions of race the film traffics in. What is Tarantino’s vision of blackness and whiteness, and how does his aesthetic mode of borrowing from every movie he’s ever seen contribute to his notion of race, cultural difference, and racism?

The feud between Quentin Tarantino and Spike Lee is one point of entry for discussing Django Unchained. Lee refuses to see the film, arguing that “American slavery was not a Sergio Leone spaghetti western. It was a holocaust. My ancestors are slaves. Stolen from Africa. I will honor them.”

At the heart of Lee’s critique, and much of the debate over Django Unchained are the questions of historical appropriation–who has the right to tell particular stories–and the question of realism. The latter question really asks, how can we tell particular stories? Is it disrespectful, irresponsible, or racist to depict slavery as a spaghetti western or in an unreal fashion?

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The Racialicious Entertainment Roundup 1.12-18.13

By Arturo R. García, Kendra James, and Joseph Lamour

Samuel L. Jackson (l) and Quentin Tarantino. Photo via Film Buff Online.

Golden Globe Awards: I didn’t enjoy my Django Unchained viewing experience. Just putting that out there before I admit that, while I generally find Quentin Tarantino to be in extremely poor taste, I think he’s a great screenwriter. Reading his screenplays for Pulp Fiction and Jackie Brown (two movies I don’t actually enjoy watching) were a much-needed respite in the first film class I took in high school. While I haven’t read the screenplay for Django yet, I don’t doubt it’s any less well written than his others and, for that reason, I didn’t have any problem with him winning the Golden Globe for Best Original Screenplay last week …

… until he went backstage and pulled a Typical Tarantino, dropping the N-word 30 seconds into his press conference much to the discomfort of every other sensible person in the room.

Mr. Jackson, come get your boy.–KJ
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The Racialicious Entertainment Roundup 1.6-11.13

By Arturo R. García, Kendra James, and  Joseph Lamour

Academy Award nominee Quvenzhané Wallis. Via Fox Searchlight.

2013 Oscar Nominations: Nine-year-old Quvenzhané Wallis made history Thursday when she became the youngest actress ever nominated for the Oscar for Best Actress–part of the somewhat surprising nomination haul for Beasts Of The Southern Wild, which is also up for Best Picture, Best Adapted Screenplay (director Benh Zeitlin and Lucy Alibar), as well as a Best Director nod for Zeitlin.

The only other PoC up for major awards, however, are Life of Pi director Ang Lee (Best Director) and Denzel Washington, who earned his fourth Best Actor nomination for Flight. Jamie Foxx, Samuel L. Jackson, and Kerry Washington were all passed over for their turns in Django Unchained, as was director Quentin Tarantino. (The year’s other prestige slavery film, Lincoln, gathered 12 nominations, most overall.)

The Black Comic Book Festival: The Black Comic Book Festival will take place this Saturday, January 12, from 10am-4pm at the Schomburg Center (NYPL) in Harlem. It is, of course, happening a mere 15 blocks from my home…while I have to be at work. I won’t be able to go, but if you enjoy any of the reporting Arturo occasionally does on comics here at the R and yearn for inclusiveness at larger cons like NYCC and SDCC, this may be an event for you.
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Voices: The Django Debate

Image via AVClub.com

Rev. Al Sharpton’s National Action Network called for a national boycott Tuesday of action figures based on the controversial and blood-soaked slavery revenge flick Django Unchained. A 10-doll assortment of characters from the film was going for $299 on Amazon Tuesday.

“Selling this doll is highly offensive to our ancestors and the African American community,” Rev. K.W. Tulloss, NAC’s president in Los Angeles, told the Daily News. “The movie is for adults, but these are action figures that appeal to children. We don’t want other individuals to utilize them for their entertainment, to make a mockery of slavery.”

New York Daily News

First of all, Django Unchained could’ve gone horribly wrong. However brilliant a director, Quentin Tarantino is famous amongst people of color for fetishizing African-American culture, and his liberal use of the N-word in Pulp Fiction and Jackie Brown still rankles folks 15 years after the fact. Tarantino injecting a Blaxploitation-style baadassss freed slave into his vision of the antebellum South could’ve been disastrous. The director’s recent comments about Roots, which he has described as “inauthentic” also raised the eyebrows of many filmgoers who were already nervous about what his slavery narrative would bring. Any crass, gratuitous depiction of Whites raping actress Kerry Washington in a popcorn movie, and “Django Unchained” would’ve been a wrap.

But that’s not what happened. Instead, the Oscar-winning Jamie Foxx plays Django as a gunslinging superhero, the fastest gun in the West.

–Miles Marshall Lewis, Ebony

“When you look at Roots, nothing about it rings true in the storytelling, and none of the performances ring true for me either,” says Tarantino. “I didn’t see it when it first came on, but when I did I couldn’t get over how oversimplified they made everything about that time. It didn’t move me because it claimed to be something it wasn’t.”

While many white directors might shy away from criticizing such an iconic symbol of African-American culture, ­Tarantino doesn’t hold back. He’s confident in his knowledge of a time and subject most people know little about and would rather forget. He was also savvy enough to bring Hudlin on board. “There were times when I’d be filming a scene and really getting into it and Reg would just say, ‘Hey is this the story you wanted to tell?’ He’d bring the focus back if I got too carried away.”

–Alison Samuels, The Daily Beast

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Black In The Saddle: The Racialicious Review Of Django Unchained

By Arturo R. García

When it’s all said and done, Spike Lee isn’t totally wrong in not wanting to see Quentin Tarantino’s Django Unchained.

Setting aside Tarantino’s interpretation of the pre-Civil War south for a second, Django finds him retreading familiar ground: it’s more Kill Bill than Inglorious Basterds. But in insulating both his hero and his story from history as much as he does here, the writer/director ends up shortchanging both of them.

Spoilers under the cut.
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The Racialicious Guide To San Diego Comic-Con 2012, Part 2

SATURDAY
11:30 a.m.: Quentin Tarantino’s Django Unchained
As of Wednesday night there was some confusion as to whether Tarantino would be making it to this panel, but SDCC has advertised that the cast will be there, at least. Hall H.

12 p.m.: Shonen Jump Alpha
The weekly anime magazine brings in editor-in-chief Yoshihisa Heishi and others to talk about new titles and trends in the manga scene. Room 7AB.

1 p.m.: CBLDF: The Fight To Defend Manga
In 2010, Ryan Matheson was detained by Canadian customs and charged with importing child pornography after authorities went through the manga collection on his laptop. The charges against him were dropped after the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund took his case. Room 11AB.

1 p.m.: Northstar
Sure to be one of the more interesting panel offerings from Marvel, with the character getting married in the pages of Uncanny X-Men. And this is a great occasion, no doubt. Room 25ABC.

1:30 p.m.: 30th Anniversary of Love and Rockets
This 90-minute panel will give co-creators Gilbert and Jaime Hernandez, along with Fantagraphic Books co-publisher Gary Groth, more time to delve into the impact and the creative process behind their long-running indie classic. Room 24ABC.

2 p.m.: Spotlight on Morrie Turner
Nearly 50 years after its debut, Turner’s comic strip Wee Pals continues to be seen in more than 100 daily newspapers. Here Turner will share his story alongside host Keith Knight. Room 4.

5 p.m.: Comics of the African Diaspora
Focusing on “popular but obscure comic-book characters and creators,” the line-up here is interesting. Actress Robin Givens will moderate a panel consisting of Underworld co-creator Kevin Grevioux, Precious director Lee Daniels, Black Comix creator and co-author John Jennings, and Jennings’ collaborator Damian Duffy, who was his co-curator for Other Heroes: African American Comics Creators, Characters, and Archetypes, which began as an art exhibit at Jackson State University. Room 4.

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