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Django Unchained - Post-Release - Page 12

post #551 of 978
Quote:
Originally Posted by Parker View Post

I don't know. Like, would I find it less offensive if it was used five or ten times as opposed to 110 (apparently the number of times its used)? Possibly. But it's more about how it's used. Every character in the movie uses it but (tellingly) Tarantino, including the black characters towards each other; and sometimes the context shifts from historical to modern and back again. I think it has less to do with how often it's used and more to do with why it's being used so often. 

 

EDIT: Nixing this paragraph, asked and answered.

 

The 5 to 10 comment got me thinking about Cormac McCarthy's Blood Meridian, an admittedly far more grounded piece but ultimately still historical fiction. It struck me that, to the best of my knowledge, nearly every single reference to the story's sole black character by other characters, including the men he rides with, was the n-word. In fact the only time I can think of another descriptor is when one merchant says "people of color," initially before switching to the n-word. It's certainly far less prolific than in Django because he's a secondary character and the book is largely set in Mexico, but as someone without a strong understanding of the word in a historical context, it made me wonder how ubiquitous that term really was. Obviously the n-word is vile by its very nature, but its use as an explicitly derogatory term (as opposed to an insulting descriptor) in this particular text seemed to be confined almost entirely to Indians and Mexicans. Which isn't to say I necessarily buy Tarantino's "that's how they talked" argument, more just food for thought on usage.

post #552 of 978

I would argue that you're dismissing the part of the movie that is an impeccably crafted Western comic adventure as a Looney Tunes skit. I love that stuff. The marriage of pure pulp entertainment/kinetic filmmaking with weightier themes and ideas is sort of Tarantino's whole thing, and he does it with more craft than anyone. It's the tropes of exploitation cinema used to actually explore the ideas and passions that brought those tropes into being. And I don't by any means think Django sucks as a protagonist. He's got a bit more Shaft than Mark Twain to him, obviously, but I certainly don't find it problematic or flawed. The ending is cathartic for me very much in the way the end of Basterds was, even if it's not as graceful.

 

Hey, I'd agree Basterds is the better movie, but I'd say Basterds is maybe the best film of the last ten years. This is by design a more traditional film, i.e., if the main character in Basterds had been Aldo rather than Shoshanna. To me, it turns out I like that movie quite a bit too.

 

I just flat out disagree with the way you've categorized the use of the word in this thread too. People aren't getting their kicks, they're actively discussing what the word represents and means in this day and age. And I think saying that the word is flat out verboten, outright, is just empowering it. To make a horrible analogy, it's like refusing to teach sex education to kids because you want to discourage sex. The movie demands you grapple with the word, and this several page long conversation is proof of that. And if not here, where and when? Is it irresponsible to use it so much? If so, why? He's making a bunch of very specific and clear points about dehumanization in this movie, so isn't it possible that's part of the thesis?

post #553 of 978

I did enjoy it when Hitler and Goebbels got machine-gunned in the face.

post #554 of 978
Quote:
Originally Posted by Parker View Post

 

I think the issue with the overuse of the word is that it normalizes it too much, to the point where it could be argued that Tarantino wants to bring the word back to common usage again, which is exactly what I find problematic. And the fact that so many people in this thread have been using the word in reaction to the film justifies those concerns to me. 

 

 

OR perhaps he wants to rob that word of its' power, by overuse and by ridicule. Much like how Mel Brooks portrayed Hitler several times, explicitly to mock his memory and deprive it of its' power to terrify (and lets face it, inspire certain people).

post #555 of 978
Quote:
Originally Posted by Parker View Post

 

I just hate the idea that we can't have a conversation about this without people being like "you're being overly sensitive, don't question the white nerdy filmmaker who likes to think he's black saying the n-word all the time, he's an artist!" It's as if people have such a ridiculous binary understanding of an incredibly complex issue. 

 

You've made some interesting arguments, that i agree with a lot of,  but it bothers me when you project and dismiss QT's sincere affinity and affection for Black culture as "a white man who likes to fantasize about being a black man". People have used similar such judgemental rationale in throwing around ugly terms like "wigger"'. And I think it shows an inherent misunderstanding of how he is embracing his influences.

post #556 of 978
Does it really need robbing of its power, though? I'm generally wary of this whole cultural obsession with words as if they're real, physical things. But at the same time some white people do seem to latch on to any attempt to 'disempower' that word with unsettling gusto. The way some took a certain old Chris Rock routine as permission to start using it again comes to mind.

I think Parker has some points, especially about all the tut-tutting over spoilsport Spike Lee having the gall to not be thrilled over the popular, powerful white guy making his looney tunes slavery movie and determining the boundaries of the discourse on the topic because, hey, who's going to stop him?
post #557 of 978
Quote:
Originally Posted by Paul C View Post
But at the same time some white people do seem to latch on to any attempt to 'disempower' that word with unsettling gusto. 

 

See, I think this is an example of the way making the word forbidden gives it power (the power to degrade someone, to be clear). You tell someone they can't do something and that's reason enough to do it, especially for young idiots. There's a reason it's the most popular slur on Xbox Live.

 

Look, there's no way to solve this. Django is a flashpoint and an opportunity to examine it. But you can be sure that the word will have a very different weight a hundred years from now, and I would hope it's become quaint by then.

post #558 of 978
Quote:
Originally Posted by Parker View Post

 

I just hate the idea that we can't have a conversation about this without people being like "you're being overly sensitive, don't question the white nerdy filmmaker who likes to think he's black saying the n-word all the time, he's an artist!" It's as if people have such a ridiculous binary understanding of an incredibly complex issue. 

 

I personally haven't said anything like that, but whatever.

 

I'm with Arjen on this. He said it better than I could.

 

As for the rest of your stuff, well, it certainly is an opinion and you're more than entitled to it.

post #559 of 978
Quote:
Originally Posted by Fat Elvis View Post

 

You've made some interesting arguments, that i agree with a lot of,  but it bothers me when you project and dismiss QT's sincere affinity and affection for Black culture as "a white man who likes to fantasize about being a black man". People have used similar such judgemental rationale in throwing around ugly terms like "wigger"'. And I think it shows an inherent misunderstanding of how he is embracing his influences.

 

I know he has a huge admiration for black culture and I realize that my summation might seem cheap and slight, but I'm using it solely as it applies to Django because I find the movie to be pure fantasy with a surprising lack of subtext or thoughtfulness. Embracing his influences is one thing, but to me, his admiration for black culture isn't enough to separate him from white 70's blacksploitation movie directors. I feel like Jackie Brown is such a better example because he actually cares about his characters and despite the blacksploitation call backs, he says something new and thoughtful there. 

 

And I hate the term wigger, too. I'm not arguing that there's something wrong with Tarantino's love of all things black. I'm suggesting that his love of a certain kind of culture perhaps might not be enough to represent a complete cultural understanding. 

post #560 of 978

Thinking about the movie a lot thanks to this thread, and I have to ask: doesn't anyone else find it problematic that the movie's big shocking slave-era activity that it absolutely condemns is Mandingo fighting (which is from novels and exploitation movies, not history) but then it goes on to essentially be about two black characters fighting each other with a huge show down between the two of them at the end? 

post #561 of 978

That was basically what bothered my girlfriend the most about the entire movie!

post #562 of 978
Quote:
Originally Posted by Parker View Post

 

This is nonsense. Watch more Westerns. 

 

I've watched a ridiculous amount, but okay.

post #563 of 978

I actually have a LOT of issues with Schultz's character.

post #564 of 978
Quote:
Originally Posted by LaurenOrtega View Post

I actually have a LOT of issues with Schultz's character.


Explicate!

post #565 of 978

He feels like a character a white guy who's attempting to tackle these issues would write about. Like I guess there's grounds for treating him as a critique of "white guilt" but he comes across far more like Tarantino going "But hey! Not all white folks are a bunch of racists!" and despite my general enjoyment of the character, there's something that distances me from the film.

 

 

I think there's a lot of that in the movie in all honesty. It feels like the work of somebody who cares deeply about these issues but still comes from a place of privilege.

post #566 of 978

And I should add that I REALLY like the movie much more after the second viewing.

 

It's just that there's a lot about this movie I find bothersome, and I don't know if it's intentional.

post #567 of 978

I should watch it again. I've actually been thinking about it.

Watch me watch it again and come back and be like "sorry guys, I'm a huge asshole, the movie is great." 

post #568 of 978

And then you have to be pelted with rocks!

 

Or broken on the wheel or something.

post #569 of 978

It seems like we're edging into territory where a white guy can't even make a movie about slavery at all (unless I'm missing some class of whites that can discuss race without coming from a place of privilege).  Not that you can't hold that opinion, if it's how you feel, but it seems like people are tip-toeing up to saying that it shouldn't ever be done but don't quite want to put it that baldly.

post #570 of 978
Quote:
Originally Posted by Schwartz View Post

It seems like we're edging into territory where a white guy can't even make a movie about slavery at all (unless I'm missing some class of whites that can discuss race without coming from a place of privilege).  Not that you can't hold that opinion, if it's how you feel, but it seems like people are tip-toeing up to saying that it shouldn't ever be done but don't quite want to put it that baldly.

Edging?

post #571 of 978

Very tangentially related, but I just listened to this episode of the Shots Fired podcast, and a lot of stuff they say resonated with this thread for me. Perhaps not of much interest if you aren't a Hip-Hop fan, but they do get into a pretty interesting discussion about the n-word halfway through (they mention Tarantino in passing, but that's not the part that was interesting to me).

post #572 of 978
That's not what I've been saying at all, but hey, why not assume that it is so you can continue to love a movie without asking pesky questions about its problematic material?
post #573 of 978

I'm not saying white people can't make a film about anything. I am saying that there's just a SLIGHT chance white people might be coming at this from a place of privilege. I mean I don't know ANYBODY who's arguing that Tarantino couldn't direct this movie, all I'm seeing(mostly from Parker) is the idea that maybe Tarantino's ideas might be slightly muddled.

 

And I kind of agree with that.

post #574 of 978
I mean, for fucks sake, I'm arguing that Blazing Saddles is okay before Django, but yeah, clearly my argument is that no white people can make a movie about slavery and/or race.
post #575 of 978

And like I want to point out again I ADORE Tarantino! I'm probably his biggest fangirl possible and I really liked huge swaths of Django Unchained. But I felt that his message was muddled and I'm caught off guard with how distant this movie felt to me as a result.

post #576 of 978

I think the critique that Tarantino is coming from a place of privilege is warranted. Some Kenyan friends of mine once described their day to day experiences: having Whites refuse to get on a elevator with them, ignore them in retail stores, being hassled by police constantly etc. (and these were very attractive, fashionable and articulate woman). And this is in San Francisco and Oakland!

 

However immersed in Black culture Tarantino is, he can't understand how embedded racism is in this country, so his perspective is skewed. (or to put it another way, he's an Outsider on this issue). 

 

I wonder what would have resulted if he'd collaborated with someone on the screenplay. A lot of what made Blazing Saddles so great is that Richard Pryor wrote parts of the screenplay.

post #577 of 978

This is not a defense of Django, which I haven't seen.

 

But for the record, how many black filmmakers out there WANT to make a movie about slavery?

 

There are so many amazing stories to tell--equally horrifying and inspiring.   The slave narratives we have from that era are astounding.   I don't see anybody trying to get them made into movies. 

 

I mean, explain to me why it's okay for Tarantino to make a movie that is in part about the Nazi Holocaust?  

 

Django is cut from the same cloth--find some grotesque period of history where one group of people is brutallly oppressing another--then use it as an excuse to tell a tall tale, in which the oppressed kick the crap out of the oppressors.   In both cases, there's a guy who isn't from the oppressed group, but is enabling them to get their revenge, and he stands in for all the people in the audience who don't belong to the oppressed group.   Both films basically take something that really happened and turn it into a wild revenge fantasy, full of ridiculous events that could never possibly happen  (yes, slavery was unbelievably vile, NO, slave owners did not pit their slaves against each other in fights to the death, because slaves were EXPENSIVE). 

 

Now personally, I am bothered by the fact that this filmmaker I really admire, who has made some of my favorite films, is now more popular than ever because he has learned people like it when he does bloody historical fantasies.   I think this is bad for Tarantino as an artist, and I think it's bad for our already-compromised understanding of history.

 

But I have to give him credit--he went there.   I mean, everybody makes "Nazis were really evil" movies.   He made a "Slave owners were really evil" movie.  And it's a hit.   And the NRA (heavily composed of southern white males, many of whom are DESCENDED from slave owners)  is using it in their ad campaigns.  

 

I know it's easier to say than do, but if Spike Lee thinks black people should be making movies about slavery in America, why hasn't he ever done that?   Has he even tried?   Did he ever pitch one to a studio? 

 

Face it--Eric Holder was right when he said Americans are cowards about race--he meant ALL Americans.   Including black Americans. 

 

Well, Tarantino may be a lot of things, but he ain't no pussy. 

post #578 of 978
Quote:
Originally Posted by LaurenOrtega View Post

I'm not saying white people can't make a film about anything. I am saying that there's just a SLIGHT chance white people might be coming at this from a place of privilege. I mean I don't know ANYBODY who's arguing that Tarantino couldn't direct this movie, all I'm seeing(mostly from Parker) is the idea that maybe Tarantino's ideas might be slightly muddled.

 

 

And I'm not saying that white people don't occupy a place of privilege when it comes to race relations.  I'm saying that there's no way around that*, and if anything Tarantino's enthusiasm for black culture seems to be rubbing people even more the wrong way.  Confining it to Schultz for the moment, you called him "a character that a white guy whose attempting to tackle these issues would write about," which clearly carried a negative connotation.  But Tarantino is (obviously) a white guy attempting to tackle these issues, so the only conclusions I can draw from it is that he'd be somehow better off trying to pretend he's not or that the attempt itself is inherently flawed/doomed.  Neither of those sits particularly well with me, though I'm much more inclined to accept the latter than the former. 

 

Schultz does function as a way of saying "not all white people are a bunch of racists!", but given how numerous and grotesque the white racists are in the rest of the film, I don't think that's such a terrible note to include.  And there is an inherent acknowledgment of privilege within the character's portrayal, with the specific enunciation that he's using slavery to his benefit even while his influence does serve to raise Django's position in society above where he would be otherwise.  I don't know.  Make him more racist and it becomes (even more of) a didactic "all white people are bad" thing, and make him more saintly and he's (even more of) a White Savior figure lifting the noble savage on his shoulders.  Seems like QT's damned if he does and damned if he doesn't on that front.  

 

Maybe that comes with the territory, though, which is why I can accept someone thinking this is not something a rich white director should address at all, even if I wouldn't necessarily agree.

 

 

*and also that Parker is filthy race-traitor who should be flung into the sea for his crimes against God's Favorite People, but I just assumed everyone was on the same page there

post #579 of 978
Quote:
Originally Posted by LaurenOrtega View Post

I'm not saying white people can't make a film about anything. I am saying that there's just a SLIGHT chance white people might be coming at this from a place of privilege. I mean I don't know ANYBODY who's arguing that Tarantino couldn't direct this movie, all I'm seeing(mostly from Parker) is the idea that maybe Tarantino's ideas might be slightly muddled.

 

And I kind of agree with that.

 

This is why I'll keep beating the Dr Schultz = white guilt drum. Schultz is coming at the issue from a place of privilege. He waltzes into the movie with a distinct advantage in intelligence, cunning and ability. From his elevated position, he dispenses justice or reward to those he deems right or wrong. He's honestly coming from a place of good intentions, but he's also using the systems that are in place, as a lawman and a white man, to his benefit. When they get to Mississippi and Candyland, his blind spots and innate biases are revealed, as well as his arrogance, ultimately. It's not a thematic the movie put on the front page (and it might be lessened further by Walt'z magnetism, actually), but it's certainly more pronounced than Stuntman Mike as Tarantino's sexual self analysis. 

 

ETA: blah, jinx Schwartz

post #580 of 978

Anybody who thinks Tarantino is a guilty white liberal has no idea what that word means.   No, he's sure as hell not a conservative either, but liberal is just the WRONG word, guys.   And I see no evidence he's even CAPABLE of guilt.   I'll give you white, but all white people are not created equal.  

 

This much is sure--black people are going to see this movie in unusually large numbers.  

 

http://www.vdare.com/posts/audience-racial-demographics-for-django-unchained

 

It's a hit across racial divides, and it's got five Oscar nominations.   If anybody's at war with this movie, I hate to tell ya, but you lost.  

post #581 of 978
Quote:
Originally Posted by pisher View Post

 

It's a hit across racial divides, and it's got five Oscar nominations.   If anybody's at war with this movie, I hate to tell ya, but you lost.  

 

What the fuck are you talking about?

post #582 of 978
First: Parker, let's smoke a peace pipe. Sorry if I came across as dismissive of your points. I remember when I used to be that passionate pro or con movies. Kinda miss those days. Anyway, we're simpatico on Zero Dark Thirty, at least.

Second: it's good the movie is problematic. It fosters debate. Exactly the kind of debate I predicted way back when: what kind of stories should be told, how they should be told, who should tell them. That debate isn't just about Django and the pale doofus in the Kangol hat, it kind of gets to the heart of what a lot of art is supposed to do.

Third: I'd love to see the great African-American written-and-directed film about slavery. So would some black people but apparently not enough black people. Singleton came closest with Rosewood (not a slavery story but a based-in-fact racism story) and there was Red Tails (also not a slavery story but a positive black story) and both flopped. Turns out most black audiences want what most audiences period want: stupid shit to decompress in front of after a shitty week at work. Hence Tyler Perry and the stupider Eddie Murphy "comedies." Not enough white people want to see the great aforementioned slavery movie either. Or Asian people. Or Hispanic people. It's not a race issue, it's a "most Americans have shitty taste" issue. Tarantino makes a slavery film that looks like great fun, and hooks in everyone. A debate can then be had i/r/t (a) whether a film dealing with slavery should be great fun and (b) whether the medicine in the form of truth that Tarantino manages to sneak in with the candy (no pun intended) is good enough to justify serving the candy, and whether the medicine is in fact there at all. Is it okay to show ghastly shit happening to slaves as long as one of them gets to stand tall and shoot fifty million motherfuckers? I personally think Tarantino's heart is 100% in the right place but to what extent is his privilege blinding him to getting shit wrong regardless of how well-meaning he is? If Singleton had written and directed this, do a lot of the objections go away, or do they come from a different angle? As the film is now, does it do more good or bad in the world? This was my fourth favorite film of the year but I know very well there's a lot in it that bears scrutiny.
post #583 of 978
Quote:
Originally Posted by Parker View Post

 

What the fuck are you talking about?

 

Be more specific.  :)

post #584 of 978

Btw, explain to me how THIS story never became a movie?

 

http://books.google.com/books?id=EJBbh7oNZkkC&pg=PA276&lpg=PA276&dq=james+smith+interviewed+1852+by+henry+bibb&source=bl&ots=Bi4li-MIhq&sig=e8pHT_A28KuBA91A9RteRFO4RvI&hl=en&sa=X&ei=TDQIUa3RHK-00AGS7oCABQ&ved=0CC4Q6AEwAA#v=onepage&q=james%20smith%20interviewed%201852%20by%20henry%20bibb&f=false

 

I mean, the story is right there, Hollywood.   Man separated from wife, finds religion (his owners try to beat it out of him), decides to seek his freedom at any price, undergoes horrible suffering and betrayal, but perseveres, soldiers on through to his own personal emancipation--there's a loyal dog in it, fercryinoutloud!   How the HELL do they pass up something like this???!   Every dog lover in America would be showing up to weep copious tears, regardless of color!   The story is all there, you just need some dialogue, and a good director. 

 

WE ARE COWARDS ABOUT RACE IN THIS COUNTRY.   We don't really want to remember what it was like.   That's why Django is a hit--because that isn't what it was like.  It's a fantasy.   Who's going to have the courage to give us the reality?   Which was worse, people.   A whole lot worse. 

post #585 of 978
Quote:
Originally Posted by Martin Blank View Post

First: Parker, let's smoke a peace pipe. Sorry if I came across as dismissive of your points. I remember when I used to be that passionate pro or con movies. Kinda miss those days. Anyway, we're simpatico on Zero Dark Thirty, at least.

Second: it's good the movie is problematic. It fosters debate. Exactly the kind of debate I predicted way back when: what kind of stories should be told, how they should be told, who should tell them. That debate isn't just about Django and the pale doofus in the Kangol hat, it kind of gets to the heart of what a lot of art is supposed to do.

Third: I'd love to see the great African-American written-and-directed film about slavery. So would some black people but apparently not enough black people. Singleton came closest with Rosewood (not a slavery story but a based-in-fact racism story) and there was Red Tails (also not a slavery story but a positive black story) and both flopped. Turns out most black audiences want what most audiences period want: stupid shit to decompress in front of after a shitty week at work. Hence Tyler Perry and the stupider Eddie Murphy "comedies." Not enough white people want to see the great aforementioned slavery movie either. Or Asian people. Or Hispanic people. It's not a race issue, it's a "most Americans have shitty taste" issue. Tarantino makes a slavery film that looks like great fun, and hooks in everyone. A debate can then be had i/r/t (a) whether a film dealing with slavery should be great fun and (b) whether the medicine in the form of truth that Tarantino manages to sneak in with the candy (no pun intended) is good enough to justify serving the candy, and whether the medicine is in fact there at all. Is it okay to show ghastly shit happening to slaves as long as one of them gets to stand tall and shoot fifty million motherfuckers? I personally think Tarantino's heart is 100% in the right place but to what extent is his privilege blinding him to getting shit wrong regardless of how well-meaning he is? If Singleton had written and directed this, do a lot of the objections go away, or do they come from a different angle? As the film is now, does it do more good or bad in the world? This was my fourth favorite film of the year but I know very well there's a lot in it that bears scrutiny.

 

There's no need to bury the hatchet. I'm arguing with your ideas and nobody should take it personally. If I come off like a dick, that's just my nature, so I should be the one apologizing and offering to bury hatchets.... IN YOUR FACES! ...j/k

 

I think it's good that the movie is problematic to a certain extent. What I actually find more problematic than the material in the movie is the fact that so many people are unwilling to acknowledge there's anything problematic, including the overuse of the word, arguing for common usage of the word (I can't begin to understand why that's a good thing) and even using it in this thread. I mean, my argument is made to a certain extent by that very activity. I feel that the movie was normalizing the word and I noted how often people were using it in this thread. I asked for someone to justify that and nobody's been able to do it yet. At least not to my satisfaction.

 

But even more problematic than the movie or the lack of discussion about the problematic stuff is that more people aren't seeing any movies by black directors of any kind, so I'm glad you bring that up. But I disagree with you that the reason is entirely related to taste (although that's always a problem to some extent). I think a lot of it has to do with racism. I'm not saying that white people won't see black themed movies from black writer/directors and that's the sole reason (although that's certainly part of it), I'm saying that historically it's been incredibly difficult for black directors to work in a studio system or even independently. 

Further, I don't like the notion that just because a director is black he has to make a slavery movie, as if he's owed us that or something. Anyone can make a movie about anything they want (including Tarantino). My guess is that black directors don't want to make a movie about slavery because it's super fucking obvious that it was a horrible stain on our nation and there's little they can say to emphasize that further. Which is, by the way, one of my big problems with Django. By exaggerating the horrible savageness of slavery, Tarantino (in my opinion) trivializes it at the same time, especially as he sensationalizes so many aspects of it, and some of the sensational aspects he includes aren't even accurate. I don't think there's medicine or truth to this movie. I do think there's some good ideas occasionally, and there's some thought that went into it. But not enough for me. 

And I'd like to echo what Lauren said; I still like a lot of it (enough that I want to give it another chance) and I typically love Tarantino to the point of being apologist (Death Proof 4EVAH, yall). 


By the way, I know you weren't the one making that "a black director should make a movie about slavery" argument, so please don't think I'm talking about you there. 

 

post #586 of 978
Quote:
Originally Posted by Parker View Post

Thinking about the movie a lot thanks to this thread, and I have to ask: doesn't anyone else find it problematic that the movie's big shocking slave-era activity that it absolutely condemns is Mandingo fighting (which is from novels and exploitation movies, not history) but then it goes on to essentially be about two black characters fighting each other with a huge show down between the two of them at the end? 

 

Sorry to repeat myself, but I'm really curious what people think about this point. I haven't really seen anyone reply with thoughts other than Lauren, but if you liked the movie, this certainly has to cross your mind as kind of a weird problem, right? I'm curious to see what people think about it...

post #587 of 978
Quote:
Originally Posted by Parker View Post

 

Sorry to repeat myself, but I'm really curious what people think about this point. I haven't really seen anyone reply with thoughts other than Lauren, but if you liked the movie, this certainly has to cross your mind as kind of a weird problem, right? I'm curious to see what people think about it...

 

Well, would you rather it be a show-down between DiCaprio and Foxx?   Isn't the outcome of that fight kind of a foregone conclusion?   Leo SUCKS at fight scenes.   Didn't you see "Gangs of New York"?  It took the U.S. Navy to keep Daniel Day Lewis from turning him into shish kebab.  :)

post #588 of 978

That...seems like a weird comparison to me, since the two never actually physically engage each other (and it's not like it would be much of a fight if they did). It's a purely intellectual struggle between Django and Stephen. If anything it seems like a thematic consistancy: one of the things this movie is condemning is the way slavery (and in a larger sense, "the system") sets black people against each other. But it's not a case of "We could have been friends, you and I..." Stephen is a product of slavery, an exemplar of the system--there's no moral equivalence between him and Django. If the movie had had Candie sending hordes of black foot soldiers at Django, and he'd gunned them down left and right, I'd see your point there, but I don't think you can really compare the Stephen-Django struggle to something like that.

 

Obviously there's the issue of "is it right to be entertained by a movie that plays on this kind of horror", but that's a larger point that's already been chewed over to some extent, and indeed can be applied to almost any movie in a way.

post #589 of 978

re: pisher.

 

As if that were the only other option...

post #590 of 978

Isn't the single biggest problem with the film's conclusion that Django somehow becomes ten times better at gunplay than Clint Eastwood in a Leone pic?  

post #591 of 978
Quote:
Originally Posted by The Prankster View Post

That...seems like a weird comparison to me, since the two never actually physically engage each other (and it's not like it would be much of a fight if they did). It's a purely intellectual struggle between Django and Stephen. If anything it seems like a thematic consistancy: one of the things this movie is condemning is the way slavery (and in a larger sense, "the system") sets black people against each other. But it's not a case of "We could have been friends, you and I..." Stephen is a product of slavery, an exemplar of the system--there's no moral equivalence between him and Django. If the movie had had Candie sending hordes of black foot soldiers at Django, and he'd gunned them down left and right, I'd see your point there, but I don't think you can really compare the Stephen-Django struggle to something like that.

 

Obviously there's the issue of "is it right to be entertained by a movie that plays on this kind of horror", but that's a larger point that's already been chewed over to some extent, and indeed can be applied to almost any movie in a way.

 

So they'd need to literally be fighting in order for it to be a comparison? Having them be the protagonist and main antagonist who quite obviously step outside of their masters shadows to pull the strings, call the shots and eventually confront each other showing skills they've learned directly from their "masters/owners" isn't enough of a connection or comparison? 

 

And how is the movie condemning the way slavery sets black people against each other? Django needs to do it in order to save the day, and while he expresses displeasure over doing it, he still does it happily and shows no remorse about it in the long run. And the movie ends with a showdown between two black characters with a celebratory explosion that hardly suggests any kind condemnation. You're suggesting that there needs to be a moral equivalence for it not to be problematic, but I don't really understand why. It's not as if the Mandingo fighters have a choice (moral or otherwise) about what they're doing. They're slaves. 

post #592 of 978
Quote:
Originally Posted by pisher View Post

Isn't the single biggest problem with the film's conclusion that Django somehow becomes ten times better at gunplay than Clint Eastwood in a Leone pic?  

 

I find that to be a problem with his character and the lack of growth, but I don't know if I'd call it the "single biggest." But I'm sure people are sick of hearing about all my complaints about the movie in general at this point.

post #593 of 978

I can only speak for myself when I say that I love to read people's complaints about movies almost as much as I love typing my own.  

post #594 of 978
Quote:
Originally Posted by Parker View Post

Sorry to repeat myself, but I'm really curious what people think about this point. I haven't really seen anyone reply with thoughts other than Lauren, but if you liked the movie, this certainly has to cross your mind as kind of a weird problem, right? I'm curious to see what people think about it...

 

I'm with Prankster. Maybe there's something I'm missing but apart from the surface similarities, I find it kind of a weird comparison. You mean like Tarantino's pitting black against black for our amusement?

post #595 of 978

In Kill Bill Vol 2, he pitted blonde against blonde for our amusement.   How is this different?   Black people don't fight and kill each other in films made by black directors?   Somebody better tell John Singleton.

post #596 of 978
Quote:
Originally Posted by Parker View Post

 

So they'd need to literally be fighting in order for it to be a comparison? Having them be the protagonist and main antagonist who quite obviously step outside of their masters shadows to pull the strings, call the shots and eventually confront each other showing skills they've learned directly from their "masters/owners" isn't enough of a connection or comparison? 

 

And how is the movie condemning the way slavery sets black people against each other? Django needs to do it in order to save the day, and while he expresses displeasure over doing it, he still does it happily and shows no remorse about it in the long run. And the movie ends with a showdown between two black characters with a celebratory explosion that hardly suggests any kind condemnation. You're suggesting that there needs to be a moral equivalence for it not to be problematic, but I don't really understand why. It's not as if the Mandingo fighters have a choice (moral or otherwise) about what they're doing. They're slaves. 

 

I think happily might be a bit unfair, and while I can't speak for the long run since the movie ends a few hours later, he does go out of his way to murder the racist family (sorry, blanking on the name) that killed D'Artagnan.

post #597 of 978

If nothing else, I have to say this thread has inspired me to check out some of the black cowboy movies from African-American creators. Caught Posse already, but I'm gonna try and track down Buck and the Preacher, Adios Amigo and The Soul of Nigger Charley/Boss Nigger if possible.

post #598 of 978

I'm seeing people looking for moral condemnation in a Film by Quentin Tarantino, and quite honestly, it does not compute.

 

He's so not the guy you want for that.  

post #599 of 978
Quote:
Originally Posted by Parker View Post


 

Finally, since people who I assume aren't black keep using the word in this context, let me ask you this: if we were discussing this in person, would you still be saying it? And if the answer is no (which it should be and for your sake I hope it is) what's the difference? 

You asked this question and no one answered it, so I will, for myself: yes. If we were discussing this topic in person of course I'd use the word. The word is what we're talking about. What the hell is the point of discussing a word if you can't even bring yourself to say it? Again - no one, including myself - is using the word 'gleefully' here. No one (here) is making that argument that white people (which I'm not) should get to use willy-nilly. But some, including myself, are making the argument that using the term 'N-word' rather than the actual word 'nigger', when discussing the word 'nigger' and all of it's implications in life and history and art, or when quoting something else that uses the word, is an act of intellectual cowardice.


So once again, if we were discussing this topic face-to-face, I would absolutely use the word. Now, it should go without saying that I wouldn't want to necessarily have this conversation in public places, as it probably isn't appropriate and is likely to cause shit. But in more private circumstances, or in public circumstances where the context is established (like a classroom or public forum) I am absolutely willing to say it.

post #600 of 978
Quote:

Originally Posted by Parker View Post

 

I think it's good that the movie is problematic to a certain extent. What I actually find more problematic than the material in the movie is the fact that so many people are unwilling to acknowledge there's anything problematic, including the overuse of the word, arguing for common usage of the word (I can't begin to understand why that's a good thing) and even using it in this thread. I mean, my argument is made to a certain extent by that very activity. I feel that the movie was normalizing the word and I noted how often people were using it in this thread. I asked for someone to justify that and nobody's been able to do it yet. At least not to my satisfaction.

 

Perhaps where we're running into friction here is that what you see as problematic I see as challenging. As to the usage of the word here, the justification is that we're talking very specifically about the word's weight and effect in the film. The word is not being used as an epithet or a descriptor, it's being used in reference to itself. Or rather been used, because once you made it clear how troublesome you found it, no one jumped up and rammed it in your face. My personal philosophy on this comes from George Carlin, in that I think it's stupid to be afraid of any words, and in this thread, I don't recall it ever being used in a context that struck me as offensive.

 

That settles it to my satisfaction. As to yours, well, I am trying to walk on eggshells for you.

 

As to the conflict between Django and Stephen, I've personally said over and over I totally don't consider Stephen the central antagonist. The ending is much more about catharsis than revenge for me, as in Basterds. He's symbolically destroying the institution of slavery, which includes Billy Crash, Candie's sister, and the whole plantation. But especially Stephen, which is the corrosive evil at the heart of it (not in a mastermind sense, but in metaphorical sense) . Symbolically, it's less black on black violence and more rising above the past. Could the tone have been a hair more serious? Perhaps. But then, as the ending of a blaxploitation spaghetti western, it's terrific.

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