1.02.2013

EDITORIAL: Django Chained: Tarantino and the American Slave


Considering ethics alone, I find myself compelled to place "Django Unchained" toward the bottom of the 2012 stack (in the cold company of "John Carter", "Mirror Mirror" and "2016: Obama’s America"), and certainly that of Tarantino’s career thus far, even if that may sound like a hyperbolic stretch based on the fact that the lowbrow material’s sole aim is to but entertain. Therein, however, does lie one major issue, in that more than 2.5 hours of being bombarded with graphic brutality against the enslaved does not entertainment make. Okay, there is more to "Django" than just that but the barrage of visceral cruelty against those who were then considered 1/3rd of a person is so persistent that it demands to be addressed, and this introduces the more important issue: "Django Unchained" is ultimately not concerned with slavery despite its gratuitous focus on as much.

This is a revenge picture and nothing more – which would be perfectly acceptable; not every movie with slavery in it needs to be "Amistad" or "Roots", or even "Lincoln" for that matter – but at nearly every turn "Django" puts itself in a position where it becomes its obligation – nay, its responsibility – to address the viciously inhumane setting its characters are weaving through and in certain cases enforcing. It is calling out for our hero to become Tarantino’s Nat Turner, though stubbornly it can’t be budged beyond its selfish aim. This is an overt social disrespect that makes fools of we the audience and a fool of its otherwise impressive filmmaker.

Read the full editorial at Sound on Sight.

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