By Arturo R. García, Kendra James, and Joseph Lamour
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.
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.”
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.
“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.”
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.
What can you say about an actor whose blessed several generations of pop-culture afficianados–especially young Black girls–with indelible images of Black female badassery? Well, you know we at the R can wax rhapsodic and ecstatic about the folks we love…and this is Pam frickin’ Grier, so we’re gonna wax thankful–along with rhapsodic and ecstatic–for her life and legacy.
It was almost enough to make you say, F-ck The Muppets.
No sooner did Eddie Murphy give up his shot at hosting the Academy Awards in a heart-warming display of solidarity with Bro – I mean, Brett – Ratner than an online campaign recommending Kermit The Frog and friends get the job pick up some steam.
The Muppets hosting The Oscars? The most interesting part of that pairing would be figuring out which half should feel more insulted.
But at least Muppets fans are coming at this from a place of honest – if at times overbearing (wokka wokka!) – enthusiasm. It’s been more disappointing to scan around other sites and seethe samebasicwishlist of prospective replacements:
NBC has cancelled Outsourced and the Event. Since Undercovers was also cancelled, what does this mean for NBC’s “More Colorful” promotion? And how will this impact their perception of minority fronted shows?
Stacy Dash returns to the small screen in the Queen Latifah-produced romantic comedy scripted series Single Ladies. She is joined by Lisa Raye, and Charity Shea as the token white friend. Mixed Media Watch ahead: Shea’s character is in a relationship with a black man – and all is not what it seems.
Verily, these be dire times for the brave souls at the Council of Conservative Citizens: not only is Marvel Comics once again publishing a comic book starring an African character, but at least one member of the overall ensemble cast in the upcoming Thor movie adaptation will be – gasp! – black! You can almost hear the call ring out:
Idris Elba as Heimdall? Forsooth! THEY TOOK OUR GODS! Robblerobblerobble …