Thursday, December 27, 2012

A Few Things I Learned: From Django Unchained*

*And the controversy prior to.

1) Spike Lee came out to say that "Django Unchained" was disrespectful to his ancestors and that he would not be seeing it. I am not one to begrudge someone for their opinion or convictions, however I do consider the sources from which those opinions come and act accordingly. I'll be honest and say I've never seen a Spike Lee film that I've liked or would care to see again. None of his films from the past decade have been critically or commercially acclaimed by anyone in my circle or out of it. And "Django" is set to be a hit right out the gate. What did I learn? Sour grapes make good whine.

2) Katt Williams, in his recent influx of infinite knowledge, has said that he was offered a script for "Django" and turned it down because "any n*gga who would take that role deserves to die." ...Who here who has seen the movie can see Katt in any part of that film, much less the lead? Don't worry, I'll wait. What did I learn? Sometimes, unhit dogs will holler too.

3) Say what you want about Quentin Tarantino, he makes beautiful movies. Blood spatter in comic, gregorious and over the top. The music is a mix of classic Americana, rap, hip-hop, and musica de la banda. The actors are all at the top of their game scene stealers in scenes with one another. There's something to be said about a director who keeps up the same fervor and passion and belief in his craft to risk failure with his ideas every time; that something to be said is "that dude makes awesome stuff."

4) Quentin Tarantino uses the word "nigger," which seems to be a big deal to people. Those people say it belittles their heritage, or it (and the movie itself) makes a mockery out of slavery. To that I counter that women are still being called bitches in popular rap songs on the Billboard 100. I counter that I hear the word "nigger" more often in things made by my people than anyone else. If anybody is making a mockery out of slavery and belittling the history of our ancestory it is us, and our willingness to call anything and everything out as racist whether it is or isn't. What I learned from that is, in this post racial society, it's still only okay if "we" do it, but not "them."

5) The word "nigger" was a character in this movie. Just like Django, and Dr. Shultz the word had a story of it's own before we heard it and then became something else with every utterance of it after. Sometimes it was malicious, sometimes it was gleeful, and sometimes it was just a noun after an adjective of an (at the time) unheard of and unseen sight. The blood in this movie was an action. With every splatter and gurgle new life was on the screen, drenching walls and ground in a thin, shiny red layer of awesomeness and mirth. What I learned, last and most important, is that filmaking, great filmmaking, is not dead: when we let art thrive and expression grow, we end up with beautiful, creative and fun representations of not just our bad, but our amazing.

Cinephile out.

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