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.
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.
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