Revenge is bitter sweet

So, I am sure you all saw the UK’s Channel 4 interview with film director Quinten Tarintino (QT), if not click here or find it on You Tube. Either way you have to see it! I thought it was quite funny. There is no doubt that QT films are unique; he has created a brand so you know what to expect when witnessing his work. Besides letting you know that he will ‘shut your butt down!’ QT welcomes the debate/controversy that his latest film ‘Django Unchained’ has garnered, and there has been a lot! Django Unchained is not officially released in the UK (January 18th 2013) but in a few days the British public will able to gallop through the convoluted corridors of Quinten Tarintino’s imagination. At a post-Christmas house-warming, a friend of mine asked me if I will watch the film; at that point I wasn’t sure but after watching QT’s interview with Krishnan Guru-Murthy on Channel 4, I probably will. I know that I’ll find it hard to watch, as any film depicting any facet of slavery does hit a raw nerve but I want to see QT’s version of events. There are two main controversial aspects of the film, which has already made over $100 million in the US and is predicted to be QT’s highest grossing film ever (who said slavery doesn’t pay?!). Critics say, there is something for everyone to hate in this film, but two aspects stand out – the use of the word ‘nigger’ and the sale of action figure dolls of the characters on Amazon US for $299 (here is the link). Now, you could argue that this film is just a fantasy so what is wrong with having action figures? Afterall, marketing of this kind has been done for several films in the past. QT did say that he created Django Unchained so that African-American men would have a hero, who takes revenge on white racists.

Personally, I will not buy one of those dolls because I don’t want any young children I know pretending to be slave masters, as slavery was not a game and diluting the message will be subliminally detrimental. I do find it interesting how quick and easy it is to make the Django Unchained black dolls, if they are in fact being sold in America. Interesting because, growing up in the ‘90s like most little girls, I had dolls that I played with including a Barbie and all of them were white dolls apart from one, which was black (I can’t even remember where my mum got it from, it may have been given to me by family on a trip to Ghana). As a young black girl, I didn’t see anything wrong with it, why I had miniature human characters I played with everyday most of which didn’t even look like me. Some of my friends didn’t even have any black dolls, but it is nice to know black dolls can be produced on a commercial level for consumers – if you want a Django Unchanied slave doll. I wonder why ‘they’ couldn’t make other black dolls so readily available in the ‘90’s or even now? Hmmm…. I do try to be as balanced as my life experience allows, so I am aware that in the UK and US, it is possible to get black dolls, but I would have to ‘search’ for them.

2013 Golden Globe Awards: The money and the awards are rolling in for QT!

2013 Golden Globe Awards: The money and the awards are rolling in for QT!

With the frequent use of the word ‘nigger’ in the film (which I have not seen yet); if it’s a true representation of how often the word was used during the 1850’s in southern America then I don’t have a problem with it! If a narration of any part of slavery is to be told, it has to be honest and not watered down; that’s what I mean when I say I don’t have a problem with it. For use now in 2013, of course I would be outraged if someone called me a ‘nigger’ at work, on the bus, in a shop. I think the ‘N-word’ has a more complex history in America than it does in the UK and possibly other parts of Europe. In America it is used among black people as a form of (for lack of a better word) endearment and insult, but when white people use it everyone is up in arms. In the UK black people don’t refer to each other as ‘nigger’ at all really, so any issues surrounding use of the word are more black and white and not murky shades of grey.

toys-django-unchained

Let’s play dolls!

In his interview with Channel 4, which you have to watch (link above) lol, QT states that this film gets people talking about slavery in a way that the topic has not been spoken about in 30 years. I am always rooting for the underdog; I like it when the status quo is challenged but I think what will affect me most when I see the film, are the elements of bitter truth rather than the sweet revenge. I think it is good that so many people of different races dislike the graphic scenes in the film, as it indicates to me that the majority of  people acknowledge that there was something grotesquely wrong with slavery (I’m just going by what I have heard on the internet), and it was not just ‘something’ that happened to black people hundreds of years ago. Slavery is not all of black history but is part of world history as it impacted nearly all corners of the world, so it should not be dismissed or forgotten because it occurred a long time ago. As this is supposed to be the ‘free world’, anyone can tell the story of slavery in whichever way they want. Not all forms will be acceptable like this one I read about in the London Evening Standard Newspaper; but kudos to QT for not being afraid to tell it his way, as I am sure there are some white people who are not too happy with him either!

Click here for the ABC News interview with QT, Jamie Foxx and Leonardo DiCaprio.

Doubleaad / AdelinA

3 thoughts on “Revenge is bitter sweet

  1. I saw the film a few days after it was released here in the US and I liked it. My opinion may be a little biased because Tarantino is my favorite director so I “get” his artistic vision and the way he makes his films. The N-word was used quite often throughout the film, but like you said, the word was used just as much (if not more) during the era that the movie was based on. I think you also have to keep in mind that it is not a movie made specifically to explain and educate viewers about slavery. It’s a spaghetti western-style film that takes place in that time period. I don’t think he was trying to make the next “Roots.” Although there were jokes all throughout the movie, there were many scenes that showed the viewer the severity of how slavemasters treated their slaves.

    I do have a problem with the dolls, though. The movie is rated R, so (ideally) children should not be watching it. Dolls however, are marketed to children. Kids use them to create stories and fantasies based on real life. Many adults did not know much about slavery before watching Django (as sad as that is) so a child probably wouldn’t know the history of slavery or how intense it was.

    One positive difference for me was the availability of dolls for other ethnicities. Growing up in a predominately black neighborhood in NYC, there was a good selection of black dolls set up with white ones. It wasn’t a completely equal amount but hopefully things have improved since the mid 90s.

    Overall a great article and now I can’t wait for Django to premiere in the UK so I can hear some Brit opinions 🙂

  2. I didn’t know anything about this film, but with this blog I will make an effort to see it.

    When I was growing up in the 1970’s ethnic dolls were not available. When they did start to make them, they were made to look either very European as in the same white doll with brown skin, or looked hideous where the features were often either very over exaggerated, and the skin tone was not the same as the black people I saw on a daily basis (aubergine).

    Now they have adjusted the features (to look beautiful and like our babies), many dolls come in various ethnic shades. Ethnic dolls are often a little more expensive than the same make white doll.

    Love the blog keep them coming

  3. Great blog as always. Really want to watch this film now so I can form my own opinions but being a fan of Quentin, I won’t be surprised if it’s crafted in a similar fashion to Inglorious Basterds.
    Problem I have is, should I be watching it to create that dialogue that Quentin is happy has been generated by the film, or should I watch it because the director is one of my favourites.

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