Friday, January 4, 2013

Ishmael Reed on Django Unchained

Read the full article here:

http://blogs.wsj.com/speakeasy/2012/12/28/black-audiences-white-stars-and-django-unchained/

Ishmael Reed is always interesting.

Just a bit from the article----you should read the whole thing:
...I would loved to have been present at the marketing meetings about this movie. The cynicism must have been as thick as cigar smoke. Jamie Foxx has been promoted as the star of “Django Unchained,” and has assumed the role as movie defender–the same role played by Viola Davis in the promotion of the equally offensive “The Help.” Foxx serves as a buffer between the producers and the wrath of blacks like those who attended a recent showing where the film’s writer and director Quentin Tarantino reportedly faced hostile questions from a black audience.

The real stars of “Django Unchained,” however, are Waltz and Leonardo DiCaprio. DiCaprio is master of a plantation where Django’s wife Broomhilda (seriously), is being held, and has apparently been passed around among the “Mandingos” who are trained to participate in slave fights for the entertainment of DiCaprio and his friends. The movie’s “star,” Foxx, is there for the audience that used to sit in the balcony at southern movie houses. He performs in a movie within a movie. A sort of “Harlem On The Prairie.” This was an ingenuous bit of marketing. “Django” was the talk among blacks during two Christmas parties that I attended, lured to the screen because Foxx was featured in the promotion...

The middle of  “Django” showcases Waltz and DiCaprio. They engage in a lengthy dialogue which includes references to Beethoven and phrenology, during which Foxx’s Django alternates between scowling and looking completely dumbfounded by the civilized talk. The DiCaprio character believes that there are wrinkles in the brain that cause blacks to be docile. Tarantino’s fictional blacks apparently lack that part of the brain that makes one compassionate. While some blacks are being brutalized other blacks go about their business. In one scene, a black woman is being whipped while nearby a black woman is enjoying herself on a swing.

Foxx’s role in the movie is confined to frowning and murdering lower class whites who, in this film, seem to be responsible for all of the brutality during slavery, while the planters stand by helpless and embarrassed by one of their number, the lone psychopathic, who, like the Nazi played by Ralph Fiennes in “Schindler’s List,” revels in cruel misdeeds. In one scene after two blacks have engaged in a brutal fight leaving one dead, one of the fiendish slave master’s friends shows that he was really turned off by the exhibition and has to have a drink.

...
Throughout the movie,Tarantino reminds us that the Foxx character is unique. Comic book white racists, when reacting to Django, say things like “I ain’t never seen a n—– like you.” Or “I ain’t never seen a n—– on horseback.” In case you didn’t get the message it’s said twice in the movie that Django is “one in ten thousand” blacks. It might have been “Django” producer Reginald Hudlin who introduced Tarantino to the “Talented Tenth” concept originated by W.E.B DuBois. I wish that Hudlin had written the movie. As it stands, Foxx is chained to this stupid screenplay.
 

No comments: