On Christmas Day, for my band of latino cousins and I, as with many other families, we headed to the movie theater as we do every year. This year the film we could all agree on was Django UnChained. It is quite important to understand that this film is not the answer to the slave experience nor was it Director,Quentin Tarantino’s intention. He was very genre specific and wrote a Western. This western film was made, with the intention to entertain and to as Tarantino stated in an interview, “Get the audience off”. Now that’s exactly what happened for me. This film most definitely evoked a slew of emotions for me and the Hollywood Reporter said it best, “Django pushes the savagery of slavery to the forefront.” Some would argue that this film only re-iterates bigotry and color division in this country. Spike Lee has been very vocal against the film and has decided to boycott, feeling the movie is disrespectful to his ancestors. Indeed, this film stirs up controversy,yet I would argue that this film brings forth a reality and emotions that many people do not want to face. “America” prefers to sweep it under the rug as if the race card is too touchy or non existent. Just the experience of being in the movie theater shows how far we have yet to go. I had an actor friend tell me he walked out of the theater mid way through the film. He said the theater was filled with Caucasians and that they laughed every-time the N-word was used. He felt that he was watching a different movie from what they were watching and his discomfort could not allow him to stay for the whole film.
**At first I wasn’t going to put this in my blog, but after reading so many other responses to the film I thought it was important to add: The phrase “Django Moment” has been catching like fire. What exactly is a Django moment? This is the moment when, while watching , a person of color begins to feel uncomfortable with the way white people around them are laughing at the horrors onscreen. The theater went from a place of communal revelry to a battleground for many including myself. During the very graphic scene of a runaway slave being ripped apart by dogs my body and voice could not help but respond out loud with a noise of repulsion. At that moment a white woman turns around and SHUSHES me. The blood in my body began to get really hot for I was already angry and couldn’t help but tell her not to shush me. She proceeded to turn around and stare at me. Her african-american friend turned around as well and they were both now staring at me. (Let’s just say the altercation was not pretty) After the movie was over I cried. I was so angry. Angry at them, at myself and all the emotions of what it means to be a colored woman surfaced for me in that moment. **
Now I understand that there is NO COMEDY when it comes to slavery and what they went through is not a laughing matter. However this is a Revenge Fantasy. I know that we are going to be sensitive in a way where others won’t. I’m not angry at Tarantino for making this film, I commend him for being brave enough to touch something that many would be afraid to do. The fact that this movie is creating so much CONVERSATION is a success. In my opinion, a piece of art that provokes thought, gives the audience food for thought, and makes one think whether good or bad is important. There is a whole generation of young people whom do not quite grasp what happened back then. This generation is so far removed from slavery. My 14 year old niece came up to me after the film and said, “I feel bad, I want to help them.” I said, “Who?” she said, “The Slaves”. That moment was so profound for me. Due to this film I found out about Dangerfield Newby. The “real life” Django. A slave whom was freed and tried to save his wife.
This film is definitely worth seeing. Jaime Foxx, Leonardo DiCaprio, Samuel Jackson, Kerry Washington and Christoph Waltz all gave a stellar performance. I have so much respect for actors who take risks and jump onboard a project that not only is controversial to make but challenges them as artists and takes them places. Kerry has spoke in numerous interviews how playing the role of Broomhilda changed her life. “We are the answer to their prayers, Olivia Pope is the answer to Broomhilda’s prayer, and I am so honored to be able to play both of these women.” -Kerry Washington.
Whether you love or hate the film, in order to truly be a part of this dialogue you must really see the film before making judgements or speak on it. You can not base an opinion just on previews and media propaganda. I’m glad I saw the film and can continue to be a part of the important conversation of the ever evolving american culture.
** Indicate what was added after the blog was posted **