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Django Unchained - Post-Release - Page 13

post #601 of 978
Quote:
Originally Posted by Evi View Post

 

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?

 

Yeah, it didn't cross my mind because Django and Stephen are clashing over personal animosity at the end, which negates the essential horribleness of the mandingo fights.  Well, they're still viscerally horrible, but the aspect that gives it its distinctive horribleness anyway.

post #602 of 978

Also, I'm interested in comparing Django to another recent work that uses the word quite a bit (though not as much as Django) and that the same questions of historical accuracy that Parker is broaching can be applied: Deadwood. I know, from the couple of forums about the show, that several of it's most ardent fans on the board, including myself, are part of this discussion. Now, Deadwood, like Django, is a piece of historical fiction that is very factually accurate on some things, and wildly inaccurate on others. Come the second season, the show starts introducing several black characters, including, foremost amongst them, a character who is known, and refers to himself as, The Nigger General. Deadwood, like Django, is written (mostly) by a verbose maniac (David Milch) who is white.

 

If you have a problem with Django over it's use of racial invective and historical representation, do you also find the same problems with Deadwood (this isn't a gotcha question, I'm legitamately curious)? What about James Ellroy novels - which while taking place in a different era, still traffic heavily in racial invective, and which likewise use historical accuracy only when it suits them to do so. And which likewise are written by a verbose maniac who is a white man. Are there any other similar comparisons, and if so, are they troublesome for the same reasons as Django?

 

This is getting to the heart of my point about aesthetics. When guys like Martin Scorsesse or David Simon or David Chase put the word in the mouths of their characters, they're only being true to the chracters, and I don't think anyone could argue against that. Of course Travis Bickle and Paulie Walnuts will use the word: they're racists. Of course Bodie and Striner Bell will use the word, they're inner-city drug dealers. That's just reality.

 

But when verbose maniacs like Tarantino or Milch or Ellroy use such words, a part of it is about being true to the characters, but a part of it is also trying to find the ugly poetry in the word itself, the same way they're searching for the ugly poetry in all the profanity that they employ. It's an aesthetic mission that goes back to (and probably precedes) Shakespear and which is summed up by Baudelair in his poetry collection The Flowers of Evil, in which he looked for the aesthetic beauty in, well, evil.

post #603 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. 

 

As I understand it, you're claiming the movie has a whiff of hypocrisy for condemning Mandingo fights, but building its story on a conflict between a black hero and a black villain. Correct? But to me, the things aren't comparable for a number of reasons. They're possibly THEMATICALLY comparable, in a way I'm sure Tarantino was aware of, but there's a difference even there--as you say, Django and Stephen are "stepping out of their master's shadows". The Mandingo fights are a tool of the institution of slavery--there's no agency there. Django and Stephen clash like Luke Skywalker and Darth Vader--their conflict actually matters. The winner of the mandingo fights don't matter. It's just another way of abusing the oppressed. It's the difference between Spartacus killing someone in the arena or on the field of battle.

 

That's on a thematic level. On a purely prurient level, if you're accusing the movie of...what, getting off on black-on-black violence? I think that's way off, because I don't really see how an abstract struggle between a hero and a villain can provide any kind of racist, visceral thrill the way that watching slaves fight to the death could. I'm probably misinterpreting you on this point, so if I am I apologize. I do think that having Stephen be the big villain is ANTI-racist in a way, because it's affording agency to another black character. He may be awful, but he's a character. He's interesting. He's worth paying attention to. This is way more satisfying on a dramatic level than a saintly but marginalized black characer.

 

The movie's condemning the way slavery turns black people against each other partly in the form of, yes, the mandingo fights, and partly in the character of Stephen, who's clearly supposed to stand as a symbol of the moral corruption of slavery. Too, there's the way it's made clear that a) black slavers exist, and b) they are awful people who Django, and presumably any other self-respecting black person, hates, even as he has to imitate one.

post #604 of 978
Quote:
Originally Posted by Z.Vasquez View Post

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.

 

I appreciate this response quite a bit, but I don't really agree with it. I don't think choosing not to say a word because you're acknowleding the power and weight it has is intellectual cowardice in the slightest, especially if you're entire intellectual argument is that the potential overuse/normalization of said word cheapens its power (and when you add that the overuse is coming from a white artist, well, there's that on top of the pile as well). The idea that the only way you can have a genuine "intellectual" discussion about the word is to say it while discussing it is absurd and the real intellectual cowardice seems to be hiding behind that idea to justify you're usage of it. And the fact that you agree you wouldn't say it in public acknowledges that you agree that the word has power and carries weight and that you shouldn't be using it. 

 

I teach a film class at my college and we watch a season of the Wire and we had an interesting discussion not too long ago, because obviously the Wire uses the word a lot. Interestingly, the old DVD copy I used for the class had subtitles that used the -er spelling of the word. I recently got a new copy because I wanted a reserve copy for the library. The new copy goes to the -ga spelling (which is always how it's being used) but that's all off topic, I just thought it was worth noting. 

A discussion came up one day about the word and it's usage in the show. The discussion sprung from the "why do they spell it like that?" from a black student of mine and that eventually led to a question from a white student, which was "Why do black people use the word?" which led to questions from white students to black students like "is it okay for me to use the word if I'm rapping along to a song?" And the answers from black students were interesting because some said "yes, in that context it's fine" and others were like "absolutely not, you should never use any connontation of the word...ever." And I feel like as long as that division is there, as long as there are some people who feel that way about a word with such a horrible history and emotional weight, and as long as we continue to think about the word from a lack of understanding (anyone who isn't black will never truly understand what the word means, after all, which means just by being non-black and having this discussion, we're discussing it from the position of privlidge), as long as all of that exists, and I frankly can't see a day in sight where it doesn't, it is simply not okay for us to use it. In any context. Ever. It's not the people who say "it's okay" that you should listen to (and I hate the idea of "asking persmission" to use a problematic word anyway). It's the people who say you shouldn't. 

Is that censorship? Yes, absolutely. But self-censorship has never been a bad thing and it's a small price to pay compared to something like institutional racism and, well, slavery. 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Arjen Rudd View Post

 

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.

 

I'm not afraid of the word, I'm afraid of abusing its power, or allowing others to abuse its power. It's not ours to abuse. African-Americans took and it and used it to take it's power back from the racists that used it (and continue to use it) in it's original context.

 

And I disagree about Stephen, he is absolutely the villain of the piece, just like Django is the protagonist. And it's absolutely black on black violence. It doesn't matter what Stephen represents. They're both black. You can't make excuses for it just because of what character represents. 


Edited by Parker - 1/29/13 at 2:57pm
post #605 of 978
Quote:
Originally Posted by Schwartz View Post

 

Yeah, it didn't cross my mind because Django and Stephen are clashing over personal animosity at the end, which negates the essential horribleness of the mandingo fights.  Well, they're still viscerally horrible, but the aspect that gives it its distinctive horribleness anyway.


Agreed. And to those who take umbrage with it, how should it have ended? Tarantino sets up conflict between Stephen and Django as soon as Stephen appears on screen. Stephen's actions are basically how Dr. Schultz ends up dead and how Django almost loses everything. How is that showdown not inevitable?

post #606 of 978

Well, obviously we disagree, which is fine. I would like to correct one thing, which is my fault: I'm not saying that choosing NOT to say the word is intellectual cowardice, I meant to say that replacing it with the term 'The N-word' is an example of intellectual cowardice. Because it has the same implication, means the same thing, except now the person saying it is attempting to wash their hands of any and all ugliness inherent in the word, and instead place it on the person hearing it, b/c we all know they think the actual word, no matter what.

 

Louis C.K. has the most popular take on this specific issue, obviously, but I hesitate to quote or even credit him because, for as good points as they tend to make, using a comedian's bit as a philosophical argument tends to betray a lack of deep thought when it comes to most complex issues. However, I think his take (which, without trying to portray myself as smart or anything, I was of the same opinion before I'd ever heard his bit) is dead-on.

post #607 of 978

In re: the word. I've long since adopted a policy of not saying it or writing it, 'cuz I'm a white guy. I've heard arguments to the effect that we should make it a more common word so that it loses its power to shock, and I get that (I think that's basically Tarantino's thinking), but still, I'm a white guy. I'm not going to say it in the same way I'm not going to burst into profanity in mixed company. There might be situations where it's alright--apparently if I was hanging out with Chris Rock I could sing it--but I'm still not gonna. And I gotta say, I don't really buy Rock's argument there, which is apparently that if you refuse to say it around black people you're luxuriating in it when you're around white people. But c'mon. It's essentially a matter of politeness.

 

I can't help feeling that, if a white guy makes a piece of art that examines race in any kind of challenging context, there are ALWAYS going to be people out there who get offended and label it problematic. That's not to dismiss those issues out of hand--these hypothetical people would probably be correct much of the time--but it is an unfortunate inevitability, which tends to muddy the waters and put up a barrier to discussion. There are probably a lot of white people who feel like they're not allowed to talk about race at all, which doesn't help matters any.

 

But then, at the same time, I couldn't possibly have an issue with a person of colour taking issue with this movie or any other movie about race. So it's complicated.

post #608 of 978
Quote:
Originally Posted by The Prankster View Post

 

As I understand it, you're claiming the movie has a whiff of hypocrisy for condemning Mandingo fights, but building its story on a conflict between a black hero and a black villain. Correct? But to me, the things aren't comparable for a number of reasons. They're possibly THEMATICALLY comparable, in a way I'm sure Tarantino was aware of, but there's a difference even there--as you say, Django and Stephen are "stepping out of their master's shadows". The Mandingo fights are a tool of the institution of slavery--there's no agency there. Django and Stephen clash like Luke Skywalker and Darth Vader--their conflict actually matters. The winner of the mandingo fights don't matter. It's just another way of abusing the oppressed. It's the difference between Spartacus killing someone in the arena or on the field of battle.

 

That's on a thematic level. On a purely prurient level, if you're accusing the movie of...what, getting off on black-on-black violence? I think that's way off, because I don't really see how an abstract struggle between a hero and a villain can provide any kind of racist, visceral thrill the way that watching slaves fight to the death could. I'm probably misinterpreting you on this point, so if I am I apologize. I do think that having Stephen be the big villain is ANTI-racist in a way, because it's affording agency to another black character. He may be awful, but he's a character. He's interesting. He's worth paying attention to. This is way more satisfying on a dramatic level than a saintly but marginalized black characer.

 

The movie's condemning the way slavery turns black people against each other partly in the form of, yes, the mandingo fights, and partly in the character of Stephen, who's clearly supposed to stand as a symbol of the moral corruption of slavery. Too, there's the way it's made clear that a) black slavers exist, and b) they are awful people who Django, and presumably any other self-respecting black person, hates, even as he has to imitate one.

 

Not accusing the movie of getting off on black on black violence, it's more the hypocrisy route you were suggesting. And yeah, I understand the differences between the Mandingo fights and real characters grappling with each other, but at its core, the movie still features two characters fighting each other for our amusement and entertainment. To condemn one while making excuses to applaud the other seems strange to me. I'm assuming you think that it's there on purpose, thematically, but I'm not so sure. I think it's a symbol of Tarantino being kind of clueless when handling this material, but we'll never know the answer to that, I guess. 

And I agree with you about Stephen being an anti-racist character and a interesting one, he's one of the most interesting things about the movie, in fact. My biggest problem is that Django isn't nearly developed enough of a character. Two of the movies most developed characters are the villains (despicable as they might be, they're still more interesting than Django or Broomhilda). So when you have the horrors of slavery represented by a compelling villain showing down with a lackluster, cipher of a protagonist, the movie fails to work for me. A lot of this stems from the rote revenge plot Tarantino shackles Django with, and the fact that neither Django or Broomhilda have many defining characteristics. The most interesting stuff in the movie with Django is when he has to act as a black slaver, but then the movie just drops it almost immediately after it introduces it, which makes me wonder why it was even in there at all. I think if the movie played it up more you could see the potential of Django and Stephen being real foils for each other. After all, Django is just pretending to be what Stephen is. If there's a danger of him actually liking it because of the power it gives him, that would have been interesting. But that's not there, so I don't know what to think of it. 

post #609 of 978
Quote:
Originally Posted by The Prankster View Post

 

I can't help feeling that, if a white guy makes a piece of art that examines race in any kind of challenging context, there are ALWAYS going to be people out there who get offended and label it problematic. That's not to dismiss those issues out of hand--these hypothetical people would probably be correct much of the time--but it is an unfortunate inevitability, which tends to muddy the waters and put up a barrier to discussion. There are probably a lot of white people who feel like they're not allowed to talk about race at all, which doesn't help matters any.

 

But then, at the same time, I couldn't possibly have an issue with a person of colour taking issue with this movie or any other movie about race. So it's complicated.

 

Just to make it clear, I think it's absolutely AOK for Tarantino or any white artist to make this movie or any movie, show, book, whatever that has to do with race. I also think it's okay to criticize him/them for his/their take on racism and slavery, even if they had best of intentions, which in Tarantino's case, I believe he did. 

But I don't find the Wire problematic and it deals with race and it uses the word. I don't find Jackie Brown problematic either, and that's another Tarantino movie. And I absolutely one hundred percent agree that there are white people who feel like they're not allowed to talk about race (out of fear, more than anything) and I also agree that doesn't help in the slightest. 

post #610 of 978
Quote:
Originally Posted by Parker View Post

 

I appreciate this response quite a bit, but I don't really agree with it. I don't think choosing not to say a word because you're acknowleding the power and weight it has is intellectual cowardice in the slightest, especially if you're entire intellectual argument is that the potential overuse/normalization of said cheapens its power 

 

Wait, is cheapening its power a bad thing?  Or am I just reading that wrong?

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Mike J View Post

Agreed. And to those who take umbrage with it, how should it have ended? Tarantino sets up conflict between Stephen and Django as soon as Stephen appears on screen. Stephen's actions are basically how Dr. Schultz ends up dead and how Django almost loses everything. How is that showdown not inevitable?

 

Whether it's built to consistently is irrelevant to whatever subtextual issues it might raise.  And while with any other filmmaker I'd say we were overthinking this, I can't imagine that the man who set the nazi-slaughtering finale of his WWII epic in a movie theater playing the climax of a propaganda film where the audience cheers on a nazi slaughtering Allied soldiers did not at least consider the connection.  I think he probably disregarded it, as Django is not as fundamentally metafictional as Basterds, and the comparison really only works on the level that you are conflating a slaveowner with a filmmaker, which is not the type of consideration I feel the rest of the film really invites.

post #611 of 978
Quote:
Originally Posted by Z.Vasquez View Post

Well, obviously we disagree, which is fine. I would like to correct one thing, which is my fault: I'm not saying that choosing NOT to say the word is intellectual cowardice, I meant to say that replacing it with the term 'The N-word' is an example of intellectual cowardice. Because it has the same implication, means the same thing, except now the person saying it is attempting to wash their hands of any and all ugliness inherent in the word, and instead place it on the person hearing it, b/c we all know they think the actual word, no matter what.

 

And I agree with this completely. I hate the term "The N-Word" and I choose to use it as little as possible for precisely this reason. But I find it less offensive than the actual word because, well, it's less offensive than the actual word. 

The one thing I'd say in disagreement is that by not using the word (or by using a substitute in its place) isn't to "wash my hands of any and all ugliness of the word," it's solely to not offend anyone. I know you could look at those two statements and think they're the same thing, but in this particular context, I don't think they are. 

post #612 of 978
Quote:
Originally Posted by Schwartz View Post

 

Wait, is cheapening its power a bad thing?  Or am I just reading that wrong?

 

 

Yeah, I kind of think it is a bad thing, in some respects. Because I don't believe non-black people should ever use it. If the words power is cheapened to the point where anyone feels they can, I think that's a problem, because at that point the negative racist/historical implications of the word would have been forgotten, and I don't think that's the type of thing anyone should forget. 

post #613 of 978
Quote:
Originally Posted by Parker View Post

 

Not accusing the movie of getting off on black on black violence, it's more the hypocrisy route you were suggesting. And yeah, I understand the differences between the Mandingo fights and real characters grappling with each other, but at its core, the movie still features two characters fighting each other for our amusement and entertainment. 

 

Which I think would be much more troublesome if the movie wasn't even more gleeful about the violence done by the heroes, the black and the white, against white people.  

 

I mean, (nearly) every movie features characters fighting, on one level or another, for our entertainment.  It's called conflict, and without it you generally wind up with a very dull narrative experience, even if you aren't making a Spaghetti Western action homage.

post #614 of 978
Quote:
Originally Posted by Schwartz View Post

 

Which I think would be much more troublesome if the movie wasn't even more gleeful about the violence done by the heroes, the black and the white, against white people.  

 

I mean, (nearly) every movie features characters fighting, on one level or another, for our entertainment.  It's called conflict, and without it you generally get a very dull narrative experience even if you aren't making a Spaghetti Western action homage.

 

Yes, I know how stories work. Thanks, Schwartz. 

post #615 of 978

Would anyone else care to condescendingly state the obvious?

post #616 of 978

I think his point is that if you cast your net wide enough, you'll catch just about anything.

post #617 of 978
A more generous reading of the mandingo/Django-Stephen fights might be that the latter is sort of ironic in the way of Inglourious Basterds, i.e. you as the audience are enjoying the Nazi deaths/Django-Stephen fight just as the Nazis/Candie enjoyed the Alliance deaths/mandingo fight.

I wouldn't want to die on that hill, as Django is a different kind of movie from Basterds, but I suppose it could be argued.

One thing that's in the script and not in the movie is that Django eventually gets to kill the same dog that primarily chewed up the slave. So that's further symmetry that didn't make it in. I also don't think the whole phrenology speech was in the script I read.
post #618 of 978
Quote:
Originally Posted by Parker View Post

 

Just to make it clear, I think it's absolutely AOK for Tarantino or any white artist to make this movie or any movie, show, book, whatever that has to do with race. I also think it's okay to criticize him/them for his/their take on racism and slavery, even if they had best of intentions, which in Tarantino's case, I believe he did. 

But I don't find the Wire problematic and it deals with race and it uses the word. I don't find Jackie Brown problematic either, and that's another Tarantino movie. And I absolutely one hundred percent agree that there are white people who feel like they're not allowed to talk about race (out of fear, more than anything) and I also agree that doesn't help in the slightest. 

 

That wasn't aimed at you in particular, and it probably came off as more defensive than I intended. There was a good post on a feminist blog a while back--if I wasn't at work, I'd dig it up--about "privilege-checking bullies", people who aren't really contributing to the discussion except to take umbrage with men or hetereosexuals or white people who might have strayed into "problematic" territory, and it made me wince, because I've totally done that. And the blogger, who was obviously coming from a similar perspective, felt like it was dragging dicussions into minutiae instead of going anywhere productive, and making people less likely to want to discuss these issues. Again, not aiming this at you, just pointing out that this is probably informing a lot of discussions when white people wade into issues of race. It's one thing to be insightfully criticized, it's another to be hounded because you used the wrong phrase or something--that's missing the forest for the trees. At a certain level, you do have to say, this person had their heart in the right place, they may have strayed into some tricky areas and need their privilege checked, but ragging on them becomes counterproductive. That's my attitude towards Tarantino and this flick--you can call out certain things, but some people seem to be too eager to dig up some secret subconscious racist impulse, which is insane. He's clearly trying to help, even if you think he botched it (I don't, obviously.)

post #619 of 978
Quote:
Originally Posted by Arjen Rudd View Post

I think his point is that if you cast your net wide enough, you'll catch just about anything.

 

Yeah, but the the net isn't going to catch fucking Mandingo fighting in too many movies about slavery and racism. 

post #620 of 978
Quote:
 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. 

 

Or he could just not write him.

 

But really even without him I don't think the movie would be any more didactic than Inglourous Basterds "The German establishment as a whole is responsible for this" message.

post #621 of 978
Quote:
Originally Posted by Parker View Post

 

Not accusing the movie of getting off on black on black violence, it's more the hypocrisy route you were suggesting. And yeah, I understand the differences between the Mandingo fights and real characters grappling with each other, but at its core, the movie still features two characters fighting each other for our amusement and entertainment. To condemn one while making excuses to applaud the other seems strange to me. I'm assuming you think that it's there on purpose, thematically, but I'm not so sure. I think it's a symbol of Tarantino being kind of clueless when handling this material, but we'll never know the answer to that, I guess.

 

I think though it's in the same vein as the broader hypocrisy you'd find in any number of fictional works where the central message is "violence is bad" but ends with the protagonist(s) using violence to triumph. As long as we (and by we, I mean moviegoers) celebrate contextualized violence while simultaneously holding it as generally immoral, I think there's always going to be an element of "it's an exception to the rule" and "do what I say, not what I do," especially in the action genre. That being said, I realize this is an example with much more specific nuance, and while I personally didn't draw that conclusion, I can see how one could find it inappropriately contextualized in this particular case.

post #622 of 978
Quote:
Originally Posted by Parker View Post

 

Yes, I know how stories work. Thanks, Schwartz. 

 

Sorry, I took you for more thick-skinned where minor glibness was concerned.

 

Honestly meaning no offense, the point I was trying to make was that you have to take things at a very abstract level to draw comparisons between the mandingos and the confrontation between Django and Stephen, which is among the least visceral bits of violence in the film.  But also for the truly disturbing aspects of mandingo fighting to resonate in the finale, we'd have to accept on some level that an author creating fictional characters bound to do his bidding is somehow comparable to a human being owning another human being as property.   Which is patently absurd as far as I'm concerned.

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by LaurenOrtega View Post

 

Or he could just not write him.

 

I tried suggesting that, but everyone was quick to say how they weren't saying anything like it.  And again, I don't think there's anything wrong with that position.  It's not a censorship thing; no one here is saying that QT shouldn't be allowed to make what he wants, but that's a very different thing than saying he shouldn't have done it like this, or "this was a bad idea".

 

But really, you could change a ton of things about Schultz's character, but you're going to run into the same underlying issues:  how do you portray a "good" white person in this context?  Can you portray anyone in this time and place that doesn't benefit from slavery and racism on any level?  If you could figure out how to do it, wouldn't it still be disingenuous?  Is that worse than portraying them as fundamentally heroic despite being beneficiaries of institutional racism? 

post #623 of 978
Quote:
Can you portray anyone in this time and place that doesn't benefit from slavery and racism on any level?

 

 

Probably! But why would you need to?

post #624 of 978
Quote:
Originally Posted by LaurenOrtega View Post

 

 

Probably! But why would you need to?

 

I...don't know?  I thought your issue with Schultz was that he was too steeped in white privilege despite his more enlightened views?

 

It's possible I got a bit lost in the last 2 pages.

post #625 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 Tarantino has always drawn from a mish mash of popular culture as way of pointing up how history and portrayals of history intermingle. Kill Bill draws from Kung Fu movies, Spaghetti Westerns, Comic Books, etc etc. So it's not out of bounds to incorporate Mandingo Fighting from novels about Slavery in a film about slavery.

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?  

 

 

No.

post #626 of 978
Quote:
I...don't know?  I thought your issue with Schultz was that he was too steeped in white privilege despite his more enlightened views?

 

 

My issue with Schultz is that he actually exists in the movie.

 

 

And like I know that sounds terrible because people love the fuck out of Schultz! But yes I absolutely think the film looses a lot by having Schultz tag around as the voice of the good white guy.

 

 

 

Quote:
No.

 

Hhahahaha same mind there.

post #627 of 978

I think some people here (including me upon reflection) find Schultz problematic because there is an element of pandering to him: the "hey man I'm a Whitey but I'm Alrighty!" aspect. If instead he'd been played as more a Lee Van Cleef type, who's a true mercenary and just sees Django as a competent and useful partner, that would have played quite well. And maybe played out another aspect of the racial discussion the film wants us to have even better. But now I'm guilty of wishing Tarantino had consulted me on the script!

post #628 of 978

Sorry, not quite following: pandering to the audience, or pandering to Django?

post #629 of 978

How the hell does the movie even work without Shultz? Django wouldn't be a free man or be able to travel more than a few miles without certain death if he didn't have Shultz. Without Shultz, Django would not have been able to stand on his own in the third act. He helped educate him, help him become a better gunslinger, and he wouldn't have even been able to talk his way out of being put back into slavery without Shultz being in his life.

 

The idea if him not being in it just dumb to me (no offense) no matter how well you swing it. I don't see a problem with having a white character present the other side of the coin anyway. Not every man felt the same way about slavery. It's nice to see at lease one white man who wasn't AOK with slavery. Just like I appreciate Quentin showing that black men benefited from slavery (some not many obviously), I appreciated showing that not all white men were built the same back then.

 

Lastly, it's all well in good if any body doesn't want to use the n word in any context. Every one is in their right to do so. Just don't preach to others about it. If I'm going to have a discussion about the word nigger, I'm going to use the word nigger. Calling someone that name is out of line. Having a reasonable discussion about the word while using the word is just fine to me. I feel like people give the word too much damn power any way. I understand why people do this but it's fucking 2013. Let us be adults and just have a discussion about the movie and stop worry about how society uses the word. If you don't want to type it or say it, just don't.

post #630 of 978

What is really wrong with Shultz as a character. Instead of having him just be another walking stereotype of westerns, I found him to be a interesting character type that I don't recall seeing much of cinema. I don't mean in terms of the character ideals but the way he's played in wonderful. I wouldn't have him be any way. But, most people would agree with me so I know I'm not crazy.

post #631 of 978

(in response to Cylon)

 

I don't know, it just seems like there are worse character traits out there than for a white guy to make an effort to treat black people better than his peers do.  At a certain point it crosses some line into outright condescension, but well-meaning goes a good ways for me and I'm not sure where exactly the line falls.  

 

I shall retire to my Fortress Of Privilege, run a bubble bath, pour a wine spritzer, and mull this over.

post #632 of 978
Quote:
Originally Posted by Schwartz View Post

(in response to Cylon)

 

I don't know, it just seems like there are worse character traits out there than for a white guy to make an effort to treat black people better than his peers do.  At a certain point it crosses some line into outright condescension, but well-meaning goes a good ways for me and I'm not sure where exactly the line falls.  

 

I shall retire to my Fortress Of Privilege, run a bubble bath, pour a wine spritzer, and mull this over.

 

 

But I'm not saying Schultz should not have treated Black people well, just that he didn't need to make a huge deal of it.

 

I'm probably comparing Django to the Spaghetti Westerns it draws from but is not beholden too. In a Sergio Leone film you'd have seen all the same issues raised but they would be sub text, in service to the plot (even if the "plot" was simply a series of incidents). To be that's a more interesting approach than having Schultz explicitly say "hey I don't get this Racism crap it is so silly". Though of course he may be just saying that to Django to get him to play along with him to get some dough.


Edited by Cylon Baby - 1/30/13 at 8:31am
post #633 of 978
Quote:
Originally Posted by Schwartz View Post

(in response to Cylon)

 

I don't know, it just seems like there are worse character traits out there than for a white guy to make an effort to treat black people better than his peers do.  At a certain point it crosses some line into outright condescension, but well-meaning goes a good ways for me and I'm not sure where exactly the line falls.  

 

I shall retire to my Fortress Of Privilege, run a bubble bath, pour a wine spritzer, and mull this over.


Wait, you're not black? Man, the associations I take from these avatars. For the record, I am not now Harry Dean Stanton, though I hope to one day be.

post #634 of 978
Quote:
Originally Posted by Schwartz View Post

(in response to Cylon)

 

I don't know, it just seems like there are worse character traits out there than for a white guy to make an effort to treat black people better than his peers do.  At a certain point it crosses some line into outright condescension, but well-meaning goes a good ways for me and I'm not sure where exactly the line falls.  

 

I shall retire to my Fortress Of Privilege, run a bubble bath, pour a wine spritzer, and mull this over.

 

I believe that would be the line Gods and Generals tripped over on its fall into much-deserved obscurity.

post #635 of 978
Quote:
Originally Posted by Z.Vasquez View Post


Wait, you're not black? Man, the associations I take from these avatars. For the record, I am not now Harry Dean Stanton, though I hope to one day be.

 

I'm also not the fictional crime figure Parker. And I'm especially not the Jason Statham one. 

post #636 of 978

I am in fact a squid that walks like a man.

post #637 of 978

You hear that everyone?  Parker is most definitely not a fictional crime figure.  Don't get it twisted.

post #638 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. 

 

Overuse?  Have you read Uncle Tom's Cabin or Huckleberry Finn?  I've just read through the last few pages of this thread and if anyone needs a moment of introspection it's you

post #639 of 978

Yes, I'm the one who clearly needs introspection while you're the one comparing Django Unchained to Uncle Tom's Cabin and Huck Finn. 

post #640 of 978
Quote:
Originally Posted by Parker View Post

Yes, I'm the one who clearly needs introspection while you're the one comparing Django Unchained to Uncle Tom's Cabin and Huck Finn. 

 

They're all fictional pieces of art and worthy of discussion.  I compared their use of the word "nigger" and not their merit as art, which is entirely subjective.  The fact that you're so clearly offended by DU tells me there is something else going on with you. 

post #641 of 978
Quote:
Originally Posted by Racj82 View Post

How the hell does the movie even work without Shultz?

 

 

 

Well, it'd have to be a completely different movie. I loved Schultz. But I dislike the fact the whole movie's plot was driven by him. Imagine Kill Bill where The Bride is a background character for 2/3rds of the movie. I don't just feel, as others do, that Django has a "less showy" role. I think he was deprived of being the main protagonist in his own film. Schultz drives the plot for most of the movie and by the time Django gets his due, the most interesting people in the film had already been dispatched. It's just a very unsatisfying movie in terms of Django's revenge and viewer catharsis because ultimately Candy and Stephen are just pawns in the whole system. Slavery still exists at the end of the film and while Hildy may be free, she and Django will still have a pretty shitty life.

post #642 of 978

That's EXACTLY how I feel.

post #643 of 978
Quote:
The fact that you're so clearly offended by DU tells me there is something else going on with you.

 

Like what?

post #644 of 978
Quote:
Originally Posted by LaurenOrtega View Post

 

Like what?

 

Personal issues with race would be the obvious guess. 

post #645 of 978
Quote:
Originally Posted by Diva View Post

 

Well, it'd have to be a completely different movie. I loved Schultz. But I dislike the fact the whole movie's plot was driven by him. Imagine Kill Bill where The Bride is a background character for 2/3rds of the movie. I don't just feel, as others do, that Django has a "less showy" role. I think he was deprived of being the main protagonist in his own film. Schultz drives the plot for most of the movie and by the time Django gets his due, the most interesting people in the film had already been dispatched. It's just a very unsatisfying movie in terms of Django's revenge and viewer catharsis because ultimately Candy and Stephen are just pawns in the whole system. Slavery still exists at the end of the film and while Hildy may be free, she and Django will still have a pretty shitty life.


I dunno, they could have moved to Mexico or France. Or Germany, since I guess all the Germans are Hip and all.

post #646 of 978
Quote:
Originally Posted by poindexter View Post

 

Personal issues with race would be the obvious guess. 

poindexter, you're new here. Respect the conversation. There's no need for cheap personal shots. If you'd read more than a few pages you'd see Parker has thoughtfully and sincerely articulated the position he's coming from.

post #647 of 978
Quote:
Personal issues with race would be the obvious guess.

 

 

HHAHAHAHAHAHAH seriously?! Only in bizzarroland does somebody look at Parker's posts and think 'Yeah this is coming from a guy with deep-seated racial issues!"

 

Like feel free to disagree with his thesis! Many respectable posters have! But acting like HE'S the one with racial hang-ups makes you look like a dumbass.

post #648 of 978
Quote:
Originally Posted by Diva View Post

Well, it'd have to be a completely different movie. I loved Schultz. But I dislike the fact the whole movie's plot was driven by him. Imagine Kill Bill where The Bride is a background character for 2/3rds of the movie. I don't just feel, as others do, that Django has a "less showy" role. I think he was deprived of being the main protagonist in his own film. Schultz drives the plot for most of the movie and by the time Django gets his due, the most interesting people in the film had already been dispatched. It's just a very unsatisfying movie in terms of Django's revenge and viewer catharsis because ultimately Candy and Stephen are just pawns in the whole system. Slavery still exists at the end of the film and while Hildy may be free, she and Django will still have a pretty shitty life.

This is exactly how I felt the first time I saw it. It played much smoother the second time.
post #649 of 978

I do want to see it again. However, it doesn't seem like QT is doing anything new here. And Basterds was so good, I can't really give this a pass for just being ok.
 

post #650 of 978
Quote:
Originally Posted by Diva View Post

 

Well, it'd have to be a completely different movie. I loved Schultz. But I dislike the fact the whole movie's plot was driven by him. Imagine Kill Bill where The Bride is a background character for 2/3rds of the movie. I don't just feel, as others do, that Django has a "less showy" role. I think he was deprived of being the main protagonist in his own film. Schultz drives the plot for most of the movie and by the time Django gets his due, the most interesting people in the film had already been dispatched. It's just a very unsatisfying movie in terms of Django's revenge and viewer catharsis because ultimately Candy and Stephen are just pawns in the whole system. Slavery still exists at the end of the film and while Hildy may be free, she and Django will still have a pretty shitty life.

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Cylon Baby View Post


I dunno, they could have moved to Mexico or France. Or Germany, since I guess all the Germans are Hip and all.

 

One of the things I liked about DJANO is that-- contra BASTERDS-- it didn't try to present some alternate history where the great historical evil depicted is "solved" in one fell swoop.  Where the Basterds manage to take out the entire Nazi High Command and essentially end the War in Europe, Django's mission is more constrained, to rescuing his wife and getting some measure of payback.

 

And in that context, none of Django's actions are possible without a "good" white man like Schultz setting Django free, and setting him on his mission, in the first place.

 

A more comprehensive move against the system that Candie and Stephen represent-- along the lines of BASTERDS or what Diva suggests here-- would be some kind of alternate-history of the Nat Turner rebellion, or a more-successful, 19th Century "Spartacus". Which might make a fine movie--  but of course wouldn't be the same movie at all.

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