Pop Culture, Race & Politics, Theory & Essay

10 Things I Think I Think About Django Unchained, Slavery, Nigger/Nigga, Race, And The Reaction To Django Unchained

***Although the following post is about Django Unchained, I made sure to make it as spoiler-free as I could. If you do choose to leave comments that could be interpreted as spoilers, please leave spoiler tags before you do so***

1. “War is hell, but that’s not the half of it, because war is also mystery and terror and adventure and courage and discovery and holiness and pity and despair and longing and love. War is nasty; war is fun. War is thrilling; war is drudgery. War makes you a man; war makes you dead.”

This take on the popular “war is hell” cliche is from Tim O’Brien’s The Things They Carried, a semi-autobiographical and metafictional account of the Vietnam War, and one of my three or four favorite books. Basically, something as random, arbitrary, and complicated as being in the middle of a war is too, well, complicated to be reduced down to one adjective.

After reading dozens of historical texts and memoirs, sifting through several documentaries, and watching movies such as Roots and Django Unchanined and Amistad, I think the same type of quote could be made about slavery in the United States. Perhaps different adjectives would be used, but it’s not possible to distill a description of that time down to a single word.

I mean, anyone with a brain and/or a Black grandparent should know that Django is not an exact representation of the antebellum period. But, one historically accurate thing it does show is that the relationships between slaves and slaveowners were complicated as well.

For instance, there’s a 20 minute stretch in the movie where you witness each of the following:

A slave who, with the way she was dressed and with the way she was treated, was clearly (slaveowner) Calvin Candie’s girlfriend.

A slave who, because he attempted to escape, is sentenced to a very brutal death.

A house slave who is clearly the second most powerful person on the entire plantation.

While each were slaves, each character had a completely different relationship with their owner, and each probably had a different personal relationship with the concept of slavery. Shit was just…complicated. While the “girlfriend” and the house slave both had vastly more freedoms than the average slave, neither was actually free. (The situation with the girlfriend was especially bizarre. I mean, yea, she’s his girlfriend—and, from the looks of things, he treated her like a, well, girlfriend—but could she actually say “no?” Isn’t this—sex without consent—rape?)

With that being said, it’s irresponsible to neglect to mention that while certain movies and texts may show that certain slaves may have had a more, for lack of a better term, “benevolent” relationship with their masters, the majority of slaves were not treated with any sort of human kindness or compassion. Maybe it wasn’t “hell,” but for many, it was even worse.

2. I think Django Unchained is quintessential Tarantino. His movies are frequently homages—to spaghetti westerns, blaxploitation flicks, etc,—and mishmashes of different genres, but Django is almost an homage to himself.

Basically, if you like Tarantino movies, you will probably like Django. If you don’t, you probably won’t.

3. I think Django is my fourth-favorite Tarantino movie. (Kill Bill 1 and 2, and Inglorious Basterds would be the others) I didn’t love it—I thought it was a bit too long—but I did like it very much.

4. I think one of the many possible reasons why people who aren’t Tarantino fans aren’t Tarantino fans has to do with the fact that typical Tarantino movies frequently shift tonally in a way that can seem a bit too inappropriate. For instance, if you’re going to see, I don’t know, Precious or something, you go into the movie knowing how to expect to feel. You may laugh at the absurdity of a certain situation, but a scene designed to make you guffaw in a movie like that would just seem out of place.

Tarantino movies don’t follow that same script. And, despite the fact that I am a huge fan of his work, I can see how someone would be put off by a movie that depicts the brutality of slavery in one scene and has a slapstick scene involving the Ku Klux Klan (more on this in a sec) in the same 15 minute span.

5. I didn’t think the Klan scene was that funny. I think you can make a good joke about anything, so me not thinking it was funny had nothing to do with the attempt. It made me chuckle a little, but, I don’t know, it was more The Hangover funny—humor where you’re supposed to laugh at something because it’s supposed to be funny, not because it actually is—than actually funny.

6. I think many (if not most) of the people upset by the ubiquity of nigga and nigger in Django are upset because they feel like they’re supposed to be upset by it, not because the word actually offended them. It reminds me of the conversation surrounding Gywneth Paltrow’s “niggas in Paris” tweet last year. Despite the thousands of articles, blogs, tweets, and status message threads about it—and yes, I was guilty of making a contribution as well—I doubt many of us were actually that mad about it.

It’s almost as if we’re playing “pretend” mad so White people won’t get too comfortable. It’s kind of like how a dad gets pretend mad at a child for peeing in the front yard. He doesn’t want the kid to do again, so he’s appropriately upset and makes sure the kid sees that he is. But, he’s not losing any sleep over it, and probably thinks it’s more funny than anything else.

7. I think I’ve reached a point where hearing “n-word” bothers me more than “nigger” does. (I think Sam Jackson agrees with me)

8. I think one of the most jarring things about Django was seeing slavery in “color.” As I mentioned earlier, whether through Roots or some other movies and/documentaries, most of us have seen that time period on screen in some fashion. But, while Roots (and Amistad) definitely was graphic, there’s a difference between the relatively grainy film used in something made in the 70s (and the documentary-esque feel of Amistad) and the type of picture you get with the high definition cameras used today. Django is, in many ways, the most colorful depiction of slavery any of us have ever seen.

9. I think the movie was a bit tamer than I expected it to be. Rapes and castrations are implied instead of shown, and for all I heard and read about the violence and the brutality, the violence actually seen on screen was so over the top that it bordered on camp.

Now, I’m sure some of those who have seen the movie may disagree about the campyness of the violence, specifically in regards to a scene involving dogs and another scene involving two Mandingos fighting to the death. But, both of those scenes were edited in a way that even though you definitely knew what was happening, you couldn’t really see it. (I wonder if Tarantino intended to do that or if he was instructed to by Miramax.)

Still, there were a few scenes that were particularly hard to watch, and each involved Kerry Washington’s character. Without giving away too much, she’s put through a gauntlet of dignity-erasing horrors that make you want to cringe, cry, and, well, kill.

10. I think a conversation I had a couple weeks ago shows why, despite its flaws and despite the fact that it’s not a completely accurate account of the antebellum period, a movie like Django is necessary. (Well, at least more necessary than unnecessary)

Once a week for the past four or five years, I play basketball at a local high school. It’s a regular group of 20 to 30 guys who vary in age and skill level, and many weeks I’m the only Black guy.

This particular pick up game has been going on for decades, and one of the traditions is that the guys who come gather in the coaches’ office afterwards to kick back and drink beers. (The person who’s supposed to buy the beers revolves every week. And, if you’ve gone too long without bringing a case, you will get clowned and eventually uninvited)

Anyway, Django happened to be one of the topics of conversation during one of these kick back sessions. It stayed superficial for a couple minutes—most of the discussion was just about who had seen the movie and whether they liked it—before seguing into a conversation about Tarantino movies in general.

Admittedly, I was happy that we’d left that subject. As much as I enjoy talking about the type of topics a Django conversation might touch on, I don’t want to have those conversations everywhere and with everyone. And, honestly, part of the reason why I wasn’t looking forward to a deeper Django discussion is that I generally like and enjoy being around those guys, and I didn’t want someone to express an opinion or viewpoint that would make me start to think differently about them. Perhaps that’s “wrong” in some way, but I just didn’t and still don’t see the need in introducing that dynamic there. When it comes to reliably fun pick-up basketball, ignorance is bliss.

A few minutes later, though, Django was brought up again. A guy sitting right next to me on the couch had a few questions about the movie—things he wasn’t particularly sure about—and, well, when else are you going to have the opportunity to ask a very smart Black guy about some of these things?

Now, for a moment I considered doing the “I can’t answer for all Black people” thing with perhaps a little “I’m offended that you’d even ask me that” mixed in. But, his questions (more on that in a sec) let me know he was both genuinely curious and genuinely ignorant, and with that realization came another one:

There are people—millions of people (millions of Americans!)—who literally know nothing about slavery other than it was kind of bad and it ended some time ago. And, while Django isn’t Roots, a movie created by a person as culturally relevant as Tarantino will at least spark conversations that some people would have never had.

One of the questions had to do with Sam Jackson’s character. Basically, he assumed that Jackson’s character wasn’t a slave. I corrected him. And, since he had no concept of the difference between house slaves and field slaves, I gave him a quick explanation.

Now, is it every Black person’s duty to go around educating White people about slavery and race? No. I have many hats but “African-American History Tour Guide” isn’t one of them. At the same time, as frustrating as it is that an educated man would know so little about American history that he’d even conjure that question, asking the question is better than the subject never even crossing his mind.

And, you can never go wrong when educating and/or reminding people that while some of the shit in Django didn’t happen, some—the hot boxes, the branding, the whippings, the rapes, the murders, the sell and purchase of humans, the intentional splittings of families, etc—did.

—Damon Young (aka “The Champ”)

Damon Young

Damon Young is the editor-in-chief of VSB. He is also a contributing editor for EBONY.com. He resides in Pittsburgh, and he really likes pancakes.

  • Tes

    I loved this movie and have seen it three times. And preordered it. And that’s all I have to say about that.

    *Also, that last sentence has nothing to do with the previous paragraphs.*

    • http://verysmartbrothas.com The Champ

      thanks, forrest

  • Rewind

    Django was a necessary movies. I hope in the future, it is the type of movie played in history class. Not as a historical representation, but as a means to introduce the more brutal yet unexpected side of slavery

    I highly favor that a) Calvin had a hot black slave as his girl, b) had a old ass Uncle Tom as his overseerer when he’s not home, c) had his own posse but treated them as less than some of his slaves, and d) that interaction between Blacks and Whites were shown throughout the movie, indicating that there wasn’t only negative treatment, there were signs of respect and engagment.

    Last thing I’ll say is I hate manufactored hate. Any Black person questioning why the word NI-GG-ER is used excessively in a movie about slavery needs to be swiftly kicked in the head. I’m so tired of Black people have such a huge stick up their ass about this. What’s done is done, and no matter how much you want White America to feel uneasy about the past….they still don’t give a shyte.

    • Val

      I see you’ve figured out how to separate paragraphs. I was wondering how to do it.

      • Rewind

        Took a bit of experimenting but yea it’s easy to do

    • The Human Spider (@HumanSpiderACNJ)

      Last thing I’ll say is I hate manufactored hate. Any Black person questioning why the word NI-GG-ER is used excessively in a movie about slavery needs to be swiftly kicked in the head. I’m so tired of Black people have such a huge stick up their ass about this. What’s done is done, and no matter how much you want White America to feel uneasy about the past….they still don’t give a shyte.

      This.

      Because people get mad when others don’t know their history, then get mad at a movie like Django for using NI-GG-ER like the word hadn’t been used to demean Blacks for 300+ years. Why give the next generation a filtered look at history you feel they should learn?

      • Rewind

        Because you can’t stop stupid people from being stupid.

        It is not Quentin’s fault that quite a number of Black people and White people are complete idiots who CHOOSE not to learn their history, who CHOOSE to only use tv and movies and historical contexts, and who CHOOSE to only work with limited information and then paint it as the whole truth. It is not his fault nor his responsibility.

        White men did not refer to Blacks back then as “you, sir, young man” etc, ergo why would the movie do anything differently than give you a taste of the truth?

        • The Human Spider (@HumanSpiderACNJ)

          I think it’s because everyone in this society wants to be so PC, that they do it at the worst possible convenience. Sometimes, the situation doesn’t call for PC. But that’s just me…

          • Rewind

            Well that’s why we have people who think outside the box. It is our responsibility to make the world feel as uncomfortable as possible until they get their shyte together.

            • esa

              love this ~*~

    • Royale W. Cheese

      I think the movie Sankofa does it even better than Django.

      • Rewind

        I’ll look it up. Did you enjoy it?

        • Royale W. Cheese

          I’ll just say that Sankofa is very hard to watch, but it is pretty good. If you need something that’s in-your-face slavery horror, Sankofa is definitely the movie. http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0108041/

          • a boy and his demondog 06

            shongo was that guy…….

    • Todd

      Last thing I’ll say is I hate manufactored hate. Any Black person questioning why the word NI-GG-ER is used excessively in a movie about slavery needs to be swiftly kicked in the head. I’m so tired of Black people have such a huge stick up their ass about this.

      Thank you so, so much for saying this. There’s no way to accurate depict slavery and somehow respect Black people. Slavery is disrespect, period, and pretending otherwise renders people into weak-minded babies.

      • Rewind

        People need to understand that when someone tells a story, no one gave two shytes about their feelings or how it would be recieved, they only want to convey the story.

        • Kim

          Huge Tarantino fan and I agree that in the context of the movie the use of the word makes sense but I don’t think its manufactured hate to dislike the use of the word by white people or be uncomfortable hearing a bunch of white people continually and excessively use it. Personally the first time I heard the word I was 5 and a little white boy was calling me it repeatedly and in a derogatory manner. I get that now black people have ownership over the word etc but when someone can still use that word to demean you based on your race. Idk. I might not entirely ever be comfortable with it being used in certain situations and I can see how other black people could take offense.

          • Rewind

            I can never ignore the fact that the word has a lot of negative history attached to it. But the issue in the end is not the word itself, but how the word is used and when the word is used. For this movie, the word was necessary and to ignore that fact is manufactored hate, because people make it more about their feelings than the reality of the situation. That’s the part I hate period. I don’t get this idea where people truly believe their feelings should dictate what should and should not exist, as if one person, or a handful of people have absolute moral authority on the entire world. It’s already bad enough a government can decide a person’s basic rights, so should I or anyone else have to tolerate a bunch of sensitive crybabies who actually think they can tell us whether a movie we want to see should actually exist?

            • Kim

              I agree -the issue is when and how the word is used. Like slavery the word has a complicated history that is very subjective. That is the reality of the situation. I also don’t think this argument is about freedom of speech, it is more so about the appropriateness of the film. For me, in this movie the use of the word made sense and I don’t think anyone should say people shouldn’t see the movie based on their own sensitivity but I also think that someone shouldn’t discredit others sensitivity to the word by calling them crybabies. And if certain people want to boycott it then they are well within their rights. My point is this, the use of the word and this whole movie in general shows how non black and white the history of race in this country is. To each their own but based on my and other black people’s history, I‘m just saying I don’t think their objectives are manufactured or should just be dismissed.

              • Rewind

                I can respect people’s opinions if they are uncomfortable with something. But when they talk as if something should simply not exist due to the fact that they are uncomfortable with it, then I have a major issue with it. Things exist for a reason, and we have choices to acknowledge them but to discredit them simply because one’s sensitivity level is not intune is ridiculous. That’s all I’m saying.

      • Asiyah

        Excellent point, Todd and Rewind.

        • Rewind

          Asyiah! Lovely pic

          • Asiyah

            Awww thanks hon! <3

    • http://verysmartbrothas.com The Champ

      I hope in the future, it is the type of movie played in history class.

      this would have to be a senior-level advanced ap history class. wouldn’t feel comfortable showing this to the general school population

    • MPM210

      I’d preface this by saying that I a) am a white male, and b) really hate the N-word, and would really like to see it’s eradication (although understandably I’m in an awkward position to tell a black person who the word has been used against to quit using the word in an attempt to soften or reclaim its use, but I digress…). People have defended the use of the word in the movie because of it’s probable historical accuracy. However, Tarantino’s use of it in Django (along with a knowledge of Tarantino’s previous use of it) seems superfluous because the whole movie ignores historical accuracy, so why is the use of the N-word as authentic language so important?

      • Kim

        I think people are saying that the use of the word is not necessary but justified given the historical context. It is a movie about slavery and because of that the word can be included. I think some people still have problems with the word in this film for various reasons. As a director Tarantino probably uses the word more than any other film maker today regardless of the historical setting. The fact that he is white also makes some people question how appropriate it is that he made this film. Also the frequency of the use of the word in this film bothers some. It’s complicated.

      • Crystal Marie

        I agree!

    • Shane

      I can’t agree anymore with this. The only thing I question is can you really blame white America or, to be more accurate, white slave owners and their descendants for not giving a shit? I personally don’t feel bad at all for slavery in America because my ancestors were not in America during the time of slavery. Does that make me a bad person? I feel many white Americans get generalized into a group that they may not necessarily fit in. Slavery is still terrible and QT does a fantastic job of showing that. And we sure as hell can’t just try to sit here, hundreds of years later and just “laugh it off” and just forget about it like someone would be lead to believe if they didn’t completely understand the meaning of QT’s film. I would argue that the comedy in Django was almost necessary, especially for the more sensitive people. It helped lighten up the terribly dark film.

  • Val

    “A slave who, with the way she was dressed and with the way she was treated, was clearly (slaveowner) Calvin Candie’s girlfriend.”

    How does one who is enslaved consent to be the “girlfriend” of the one who enslaves them? Could she have said, ‘no, I will not have sex with you’? She was the victim of rape, she was not his girlfriend.

    • Rewind

      If she walks around with a smile on her face and strutting her stuff like a runway model, then she’s no victim of rape. At least the way she was portrayed in the movie.

      • Val

        Sounds like she was trying to make the best of a horrible situation. But, my question remains; could she have said no to him? If not then she was a victim of rape.

        • Rewind

          I think you’re reading way too hard into it. Did you see the movie?

          I’m only asking because if you did, you’d see why I typed what I typed. I agree with you in the traditional sense that it would be hard to see a slave woman being happy with being her master’s girlfriend when she has no choice in the matter…but this is a movie.And as the movie shows, things ARE NOT WHAT YOU THINK, they can be way different from what we think things should be.

          • hehe

            I saw the movie and still agree with Val.

            • Rewind

              Ok. I guess. I choose not to think that deeply about a role that wasn’t fleshed out. It is left to interpretation I guess.

            • Sweet GA Brown

              I saw the movie and I imagine that the girlfriend did at the very least accept her role. Im the movie you get that she feels entitled or like she is important and better than the other slaves. I dont think that she felt like she was doing something that she didnt want to do as much as she probably felt like she was doing something that wasnt nearly as bad or degrading as the other slaves. She was treated as good in the movie as a slave could have been treated. When it comes to movies like this you have to give into the actual time period and way of thinking. Girlfriend was probably happy every night she got to sleep in the big house.

            • The Guy Formerly Know As Hmmmm

              I havent seen the movie and I agree with Val as well.

      • The Human Spider (@HumanSpiderACNJ)

        If she walks around with a smile on her face and strutting her stuff like a runway model, then she’s no victim of rape. At least the way she was portrayed in the movie.
        Could be Stockholm syndrome…

        • Rewind

          Could be. It’s a movie, left open to anyone’s interpretation.

      • Royale W. Cheese

        Yeah, she seemed like she was on “team protect Big Daddy” so that she wouldn’t lose the benefits she was getting. Kind of like a pimp’s main girl. She isn’t free, but she isn’t really trying to be, either.

        • Wu Young, Agent of M.E.

          To use pimp lexicon: A bottom b**** is still a b****, isn’t she. Her life is only slightly less crap than the rest. Just slightly.

          • Royale W. Cheese

            Not making any argument that she is less of a prostitute/ slave in a technical sense. I think the more controversial point is whether or not she is complicit in her own enslavement, accepting of it, and maybe even protective of it.

      • T

        “If she walks around with a smile on her face and strutting her stuff like a runway model, then she’s no victim of rape. At least the way she was portrayed in the movie”.

        And thus the problem that happens when idiots co-sign the poor history skills of the other idiot, Quenton Tarantino. Really sad. But I guess that if you can co-sign being insulted 110 times with the “n-word”, you’ll accept anything.

        SMDH at ALL of these stupid comments.

        And BTW, nigger/nigga was NOT in common usage by Black people of the times when dealing with white people of the times. It was considered much to much of an insult to be used by Blacks. I mean really?? Are Black people really this brain-dead now? SAD.

    • M.F. Gem Jones, BS, RGS, NBR, PhD… and you sir?

      hmmm ask Sally Hemmings. and Queen.

      as Champ mentioned, slavery was complicated – as were some of the relationships between some slave owners and their/others’ slaves.

      • Val

        So, you actually believe that Sally Hemmings was Jefferson’s lover? Really? When did she give consent? Wait, she had no rights since she wasn’t even considered human, by Jefferson no less, so how could she give consent?

        Slavery was simple, those that were enslaved had no rights, they were not considered human. Revisionist slavery may be complicated but not the real slavery.

        • Royale W. Cheese

          I believe that she *could* have consented, emotionally. Not saying that she actually did, but I don’t think it’s impossible. Slavery was complicated. By law, it was whites on one side, blacks on the other, but human psychology doesn’t always fall in line with rules.

          • http://verysmartbrothas.com The Champ

            “By law, it was whites on one side, blacks on the other, but human psychology doesn’t always fall in line with rules.”

            nodding head

          • Gem Jones, PhD

            exactly. and who really knows?? i certainly wasnt there and couldnt say one way or the other.

        • dabigpodina

          Well damns you on the right level.

      • hehe

        That was a bad example since Sally Hemmings was a child when the relationship started.

        • Gem Jones, PhD

          bad example?? i was being facetious.

      • Wu Young, Agent of M.E.

        Yeah, Sally and Thomas Jefferson may have been in some form of love. The fact that he literally owned her made the relationship inappropriate. She was property who happened to have deep feelings for someone who could destroy her at a whim.Oddly, enough most white women of this time period didn’t seem to realize that they themselves were de facto property. Whomever said slavery was a perculiar institution nailed that ish.

        • Gem Jones, PhD

          agreed. i think to use the term “girlfriend” would be a bit much – even if Sally “consented” to her affair with TJ.

          but i mention her (and Halle Berry’s character Queen) because she’s one of the more (in)famous slaveowners “lovers”. there is some reason to believe that there may have been genuine feelings between the 2 – but all we can do is speculate at this point.

        • T

          Black men and women were property of white women just as much as we were of white men, sorry. I know that men don’t like to think of themselves as having been subjugated by women, but it happened for many over 400 years. Don’t try to make it better by turning slave owners and their co-signing families into victims.

    • Todd

      The thing is that during slavery, those kind of relationships weren’t unusual. Even slaves falling for their masters and clearly attesting to their love (and even going to far as to live as man and wife with their masters post-emancipation) is unheard of. Saying that something is rape doesn’t negate the presence of a relationship. Sadly, to this day, husbands do rape their wives.
      _
      I say all of that to say that people are complicated, and last I checked, slavery involved people.

      • Gem Jones, PhD

        “Saying that something is rape doesn’t negate the presence of a relationship. Sadly, to this day, husbands do rape their wives.”

        indeed. slavery is complicated. people are complicated. relationships are complicated. to scoff at the notion that a slave could willingly be the lover of a slave owner seems unfounded.

    • Tentpole

      Val, she got confortable with her situation and she knew she was better off than others around her.

    • Diana

      Has anyone read Wench by Dolen Perkins-Valdez? I think she explores the complexities of this by using as a base, the true story of slave masters taking their slave “girlfriends” to a real life country club type spa for “vacation”. It is all very messy and fascinating.

      • Kema

        I read this! Very complex indeed.

      • Gem Jones, PhD

        *adds to goodreads to-read list*

        thanks!

    • http://verysmartbrothas.com The Champ

      “She was the victim of rape, she was not his girlfriend.”

      perhaps both were true.

      • SweetSass

        A girlfriend is someone he could take out in public on his arm to church on Sunday… No way in h-e-l-l that was happening with her Sapphire-esque character.

        She was a straight up sex slave. Comeonson…

        • T

          Indeed. Nothing more, nothing less than a sex slave.

    • SweetSass

      Yes, no way, shape or form did I see ‘girlfriend’ as the label.

    • Brouther Mouzone

      THANK YOU VAL!!! That “girlfriend” sh*t was starting to p*ss me off!

    • a boy and his demondog 06

      they’re called negro bed wenches…..if someone offered to come free them she would’ve fought tooth and nail to protect that way of life. you have negroes like that to this day

  • I Am Your People

    I haven’t seen Django, but the universal reaction I’ve heard is ‘if this was a true story, it never would have been made.’* When it comes to true stories, Hollywood LOVES white savior movies. Maybe QT just outed the BS in Hollywood.

    I’m more irritated by the likes of Trinidad James than QT. when it comes to n*gga usage.

    Finally, I shouldn’t been posting under the influence of Nyquil. My screen’s in low-def now…

    *semi-related – Denzel would have gotten that Oscar had Malcolm X been a fictional character.

    • Rewind

      There was no White savior moment in this movie and I’m real proud of this. You get the sense that in return, Django saves Schultz by asking him to help save Broomhilda. (no this doesn’t ruin the movie for you).

      This is perhaps only because it is a Taratino movie, and he never uses the White savior method in his movies.

      • Diana

        But it takes a white man to free him so he can save his wife. How is that not white Savior? He is dependent on someone else. It’s just glossy and slick. Tis why I love Guy Johnson’s book Standing at the Scratch line because the main character is a free Black man who kills a whole lotta white people on his own…of course that’ll never be a movie…

        • Wu Young, Agent of M.E.

          I thought Standing on the Scratch Line was a very good read. King’s mental state could lead to hours of discussions of black men and their mental health. I still haven’t read the sequel yet.

          • Crystal Marie

            THIS IS MY FAVORITE BOOK OF ALL TIME. I’m so glad I’m not the only person who read it. Agreed re it’s depiction of black men. The sequel wasn’t as good.

          • King Tremain

            Yeah, Standing at the Scratch line is my favorite book.

        • Rewind

          By White Savior, I interpret that the Black person needs the White person thorougly while the White person does not need the Black person at all and is only using them as an advantage. So while the relationship between Django & Schultz initially started that way, it did not end that way.

          That’s my opinion though.

        • Marshal

          Shultz NEEDED Django to take down the Ellis brothers, plus Django got Revenge AGAINST them for Whipping Broomhilda and having a role in their being sold separately; gotta remember the StoryLINE people

          • Rewind

            Yea but that was the first 30 minutes and the intro to get people interested in the movie. The rest of the 2 hours was about rescuing Broomhilda.

            • Marshal

              True, which is also why Shultzand Django had their agreement in the saloon after shooting the fraud sheriff. Shultz Agreed to help save Btoomhilda after they collected the Ellis Bros.’ bounty.

      • T

        Rewind, you’e brainwashed for real.

    • Kema

      “I’m more irritated by the likes of Trinidad James than QT. when it comes to n*gga usage.”

      This! When I first heard his song I thought it was a parody exposing the overuse of the word in hip hop songs. No such luck.

      • Todd

        Word. Sadly, Trinidad James is THAT dumb. *smh*

        • tgtaggie

          I really want to say Trinidad James is a parody of himself. lol. He is like a mixture of Jerome from Martin, Lil John and Flavor Flav. lol.

          Trinidad James is a very good example of what is wrong with rap music today.

        • That Ugly Kid

          Actually Trinidad James is not dumb at all. He’s in the same group of people as David Banner (who is extremely smart), Lil Wayne (who was an A student in elementary school and in college), and 2 Chainz (who apparently graduated a 4 year college, in just 3 years, with a 4.0 GPA).

          Basically, he’s smart. He just enjoys making ratchet music.

          • Todd

            I wouldn’t throw David Banner, especially after his 1st record in that pile. Yeah, he made lots of dumb party records, but he did a lot of introspective tracks as well. Cadillacs on 22s is a much more complicated song that the title implies. On the flip side, Trinidad James has to show me something to show some level of intelligence on even a Li’l Wayne level, not to say a deep intellectual one.

          • Eps

            I can’t give Wayne points for being a good student in elementary school lol

      • Sweet GA Brown

        +10000000

        I think everyone felt the same way.

    • http://verysmartbrothas.com The Champ

      *semi-related – Denzel would have gotten that Oscar had Malcolm X been a fictional character.

      never considered this. interesting point

  • The Human Spider (@HumanSpiderACNJ)

    There are people—millions of people (millions of Americans!)—who literally know nothing about slavery other than it was kind of bad and it ended some time ago.

    Thing about history is, unless you take the subject in college, or are genuinely interested, you’re primarily following the school’s cirriculum. They may touch on the subject, but its heavily edited, unless you go and look up the information yourself or have a teacher that’s passionate enough to actually stray out of cirriculum.

    Me personally, I had no idea about how deep the horrors of slavery were until my 10th grade history teacher went on a small diatribe when (most of) the class was messing around.

    And it’s not just limited to slavery, there are a lot of chapters in history that were edited out for time purposes and/or better light, like the story on the Native Americans or the history of Africa. Hell even the Korean War gets a once over, at best…

    • Rewind

      It doesn’t matter what country you go to, the history is edited to erase the horrors of the past. But information, like money, is something you earn. So if you take the context that most people only care about history when it is taught to them as kids, then treat it like money: kids love money when it is free, until they have to grow up and earn it themselves. All of a sudden, it is not so fun anymore.

      Same thing with history. When you are forced to learn it, you could careless, but when you get older and have to find it on your own, all of a sudden it is a big deal.

      • esa

        ~ It doesn’t matter what country you go to, the history is edited to erase the horrors of the past.
        .
        with all due respect, i disagree. perhaps you may have experienced NYC public schools lengthy focus on the subject of Holocaust. in comparison, subjects like slavery are discussed as a lead up to the Civil War, not studied as subjects unto themselves or contextualized as part of the greater fabric of American history. then you get to the genocide of Native Americans, or rather, you never get to this. you get Thanksgiving and Manhattan being bought for $24 in trinkets, and pretty much nothing else.
        .
        this imbalance in the curriculum illustrates the power that political and economic influence can wield over society as a whole. Jews use their power to promote their agenda while simultaneously making a critical discussion of Jews a taboo. very powerful, and frightening, to my mind. but also a path to empowerment through assimilation that is American at its core, because it is built upon earning power and control over industries that shape the public discourse.

        • Rewind

          I respectfully disagree. Go to Japan and they altered information about WWII and the atrocities they committed in China. Go to Germany, and regardless of how reformed the country is, all the information regarding the Nazis, WWI, WWII, & the treatment of Jews has been altered. Go to Australia and the information regarding the genocide of the Aboriginal people and the hardships Australians put them through up until 50 years ago has been greatly mistreated.

          All powerful governments and people know the simplest of rules: knowledge is power and only those in power should know the truth. Omit the truth to the mass public and they will never be none the wiser.

          • esa

            oop, i was unclear. i am not saying that history has not been revised or edited to erase the horrors of the past. i am saying that history can be rewritten once you have the money, power, and strategic alliances to include your own version of events.
            .
            i do believe that individuals also have the power to rewrite history, and in doing so can change the discourse at large. the question, as i see it, is does the public want to engage in the conversation. this one is more difficult because conversations can be frustrating when it is difficult to determine what to do with the information one has acquired.
            .
            as much as i disdain and distrust government, i choose to believe that one person can change the world.

            • http://verysmartbrothas.com The Champ

              “oop, i was unclear. i am not saying that history has not been revised or edited to erase the horrors of the past. i am saying that history can be rewritten once you have the money, power, and strategic alliances to include your own version of events.”

              “the winners write the textbooks, the losers write the songs” (or something like that)

            • Rewind

              This true, anyone can rewrite history under the right conditions and never be questioned about it.

        • Brother Mouzone

          Wow Esa, that’s deep…and very, very accurate.

    • Starita34

      The fact that we put our Japanese citizens in internment (concentration) campus…blew my mind when I finally learned of it…in my 30s!!

      • Val

        We who?

        • M.F. Gem Jones, BS, RGS, NBR, PhD… and you sir?

          America.

      • M.F. Gem Jones, BS, RGS, NBR, PhD… and you sir?

        i was talking to t-lee about something similar on twitter – there are certain parts of history that just arent taught in school and often we dont find out until we are adults. its sad really.

        • The Human Spider (@HumanSpiderACNJ)

          It says a lot about the educational institutions open for the children of the public…

          • Wu Young, Agent of M.E.

            the history taught to American kids is done in such a wide-scope that most institutions don’t care or bother with getting into the murkiness of who we are. It really should start at an earlier time in a kids education but we don’t want to take away from the precious standardized testing preperation.

          • esa

            i have never seen public education as a place where children are taught to think critically, but rather as a system of domestication, socialization, and memorization of the propaganda that keeps the powers-that-be in control.
            .
            by the time i was in fourth grade i was over it but it didn’t matter. i had to figure out how to both play along and subvert the system in order to get to where i needed to go.
            .
            but this is me. i have authority issues and i try to channel them in order to bomb the system from the inside out. however, i believe every child has an intuitive understanding of truth until adults force feed them lies as fact. we can foster critical thinking if we think critically ourselves, which is to question everything, particularly that which is taken as “status quo” and paraded as “truth.”

            • Asiyah

              I agree. I teach adults and have seen for myself the effects of this type of socialization. And my friends usually dub me weird, anti-American, or a conspiracy theorist. I’m not a revolutionist or rebel here but I do my own outside research. Read about Gandhi and ask yourself why he’s so glorified anyway? He wasn’t as awesome as people here make him out to be.

              • esa

                i love revolutionaries and surround myself with them whenever i can. America was built on revolution and that’s why the framers of the Constitution made the second amendment the right to bear arms so that the populace could overthrow the federal government if it wanted to do so.
                .
                that is so #@$^%#&$ sick, it blows my mind. forget how it has been misinterpreted, just the fact that the people who created the government didn’t trust the government and created a clause to empower people to liberate themselves is revolution in its purest form.

                • Asiyah

                  I love me some revolutionaries too! But I doubt I am among those men and women LOL.I just believe in researching and learning.

                  • esa

                    there are many roles to be played. it takes time to understand one’s skill set and how to apply it to the cause. i know that i am not on the front lines in that respect. i’m the one setting forth to rewrite history in support of their work ~*~
                    .
                    as a researcher and someone committed to learning, you too have a role. and should you wish to embrace it, it will reveal itself to you ..

                • The Human Spider

                  America was built on revolution and that’s why the framers of the Constitution made the second amendment the right to bear arms so that the populace could overthrow the federal government if it wanted to do so.
                  .
                  that is so #@$^%#&$ sick, it blows my mind.


                  Well, I’ll be…

                  It makes sense when you think about it, but it came as a minor surprise (OK, it was semi-mind boggling). It could be because of the fact that, as you mentioned, it’s been beat up and abused due to misinterpretation.

                  Same thing with the freedom of the press; before companies started buying up newspapers and certain parties used certain papers to get into their back pocket, the press was given freedom to keep the government in check as well…

                  • esa

                    freedom of the press is a beautiful American myth. it is not that it does not exist, but that for the most part, we are dealing with the Wizard of Oz, so to speak.
                    .
                    i would also like to add into the mix :: many book publishers do not fact check. they have immunity clauses written into every single contract so that is the author is liable for lies or libel, the publisher is not. thus, what we take as “fact” because it exists in a book may be no more story than any fiction published, only it is marketed as “history” or “current events” or “biography/memoir” or “science.”
                    .
                    #butdamnilovemesomebooks

      • Wu Young, Agent of M.E.

        Outside of the Army Air Corps bombing Tulsa in 1921 this is one of the major blights on our history that doesn’t get talked about enough.

      • H.H.H.

        “blew my mind when I finally learned of it…in my 30s!”

        that’s sad. not because you learned about it..in your 30s…

        but that the educational system set up, didn’t allow you to even know that in a cursory basis…

        i know my own experience is an aberration, because i actually..like history…but i always wondered, if a social studies/history class has a book, and has a coursework…but the school year finishes too soon…what happens to that remainder of history, that hasn’t been covered?

        for example, i’m in my early XXs. when we had social studies, at least in the public school system, we would typically end around… “Glasnost”. Even in high school. so i think the folks i graduated with, unless they followed news, would not know about Kosovo situation.

        hopefully, future public school social studies/history coursework will be able to cover each topic, to a level where it gets the student interested in learning more for themselves.

        • esa

          yea but .. Kosovo was a lie perpetrated by the US government and the media to punish Slobodan Milosevic for acting independently of the UN. he died while awaiting trial at the Hague with not a shred of evidence against him. how fortunate he died before the US complicity in a war fought for reasons we will never know was uncovered.
          .
          i agree that it is incumbent upon us to do the work for ourselves. i would say “don’t believe anything you read” including this. we have to go beyond other people’s interpretations of “truth” in order to discover our own.

          • Asiyah

            I believe the Bosnian Genocide (not saying you don’t lol), but I don’t believe in the US’s altruism in Kosovo that some media outlets portray (if not all). And, from the few Kosovars and Montenigrins I know, they don’t buy it either.

            • esa

              i hear you. we can respectfully disagree on this point because, sadly, the truth will never be told. i was working with a Serb intensely for years and decided to investigate the matter on my own. what i learned, besides i need to refrain from New Yorker style exposes on subjects far beyond my grasp, is that there are so many sides to these political quagmires that the best thing we can do is question the information and agenda of the people presenting it to us.

          • Asiyah

            and I know that Kosovo and Bosnia aren’t the same country, but some people make it seem like what happened in Bosnia is what led to the altruistic campaign in Kosovo. we know the US only gets involved whenever it feels like it and for reasons we aren’t sure of.

          • Kopa

            The Kosovars who fled to European countries to escape death under Milosevic’s rule would less than politely disagree with you on it all being “a lie”. A lot of things happened there way before US ever got involved. In Europe the US’s involvement is not considered that great; if it is even discussed at all.

            I have talked about Milosevic with Serbs, who vehemently believe he did nothing wrong, and with Kosovars, who believe he is nothing short of the devil incarnate. There isn’t one truth shared by everyone, but to simply call it all a lie is simplifying it too much.

        • SweetSass

          Let’s not blame public schools here.

          I went to a public school and learned about Japanese internment…

          But that is because I did my homework and actually read the material.

          A lot of people who rage against the machine aka public school education, didn’t put forth much effort. Also, there is a library in (almost) every school and town… publicly available.

          • esa

            perhaps, with all due respect, a better word than “blame” is “shared responsibility” ? while it is easy to put the onus on the child to self-educate, it helps to come from a home that makes education its first priority.

            i, too, went to public schools and fully nerded out, but many times in my journey i came upon questionable source materials and teachers who enforced rote memorization as a means to measuring “intelligence.”
            .
            the failures of the public school system are multi-determined, and deeply rooted in systemic racism, classism, and the American trend towards anti-intellectualism. there is also the matter of the massive discrepancy in the quality of public school education, at least in NYC. property taxes support these schools that teach to the test, and the test results garner more state support, thus creating a way to ensure poor neighborhood never get a come up, while bougie neighborhoods flourish.

          • Kema

            lol! @ SweetSass… I was one of those students that read the book on my own too. I loved reading.

  • M.F. Gem Jones, BS, RGS, NBR, PhD… and you sir?

    good post, Champ. you captured most of my feelings about Django in your post.

    as i mentioned on twitter earlier this evening while watching the Golden Globes, i can see why people dont approve of Django – and many of the backlash cite fair criticisms. but i thoroughly enjoyed it and am happy to have supported it.

    Django is not a movie that was made to capture the entirety of American chattel slavery. it wasn’t made to be THE slave story (a la Roots or Amistad). it is A story, ONE story, about LOVE. and its told in a manner in which a slave gets revenge – ALL FOR HIS WOMAN. history tells us that Black slaves don’t win. even after being freed, Blacks still lost. it could be argued that Blacks still arent really winning. so for me, i appreciate that QT told a story where the Black slave wins, the Black slave retaliates (without being tortured to death), the Black slave is the punisher, the Black slave saves his woman. of course the movie isn’t historically accurate – a Black slave personal victory isnt historical!!!

    and im OK with that. because regardless of the lens with which QT portrayed this story, his story includes one of redemption and love. and i am here for Black love and redemption all day.

    • Rewind

      What I don’t understand is why people can’t seperate fiction from non-fiction. Slavery did happen, but that doesn’t mean people can’t make up stories while using that historical context…just as it has been done MANY TIMES BEFORE.

      People need to quit getting emotional over time periods they weren’t even alive to experience, let alone have a valid opinion about. Whatever we think today means nothing compared to the people who actually experienced it. I think it is just a tiring conversation. I’m glad QT had the balls to toy with such a subject matter, very few can.

      • M.F. Gem Jones, BS, RGS, NBR, PhD… and you sir?

        “Slavery did happen, but that doesn’t mean people can’t make up stories while using that historical context…just as it has been done MANY TIMES BEFORE.”
        exactly!

        “I’m glad QT had the balls to toy with such a subject matter, very few can.”
        agreed! i’m not of the school of thought that there are certain topics that are off limit to creative license. i enjoy my share of altered reality.

        • Rewind

          Exactly, as do I. I refuse to engage in the school of “My Feelings and My Feelings Only”, because I find people who think like that absolutely childish and honestly really stupid. There’s a difference between crossing the line and looking at the line. This movie looks at the line and even kicks some dirt on it, but it never gets to a point of saying “F U Black people”, or otherwise I doubt Jamie, Kerry, Sam, and any other Black person on set would have agreed to work.

    • http://verysmartbrothas.com The Champ

      “Django is not a movie that was made to capture the entirety of American chattel slavery. it wasn’t made to be THE slave story (a la Roots or Amistad). it is A story, ONE story, about LOVE. and its told in a manner in which a slave gets revenge – ALL FOR HIS WOMAN.”

      i agree. it’s more of a revenge/love story set in a certain period than a story about slavery

  • That Ugly Kid

    I never understood any of the complaints about Django Unchained (which is my favorite Taratino movie). From the absurdity of complaining about the use of “n*gger”…in a movie set during the period of slavery (WTF!!!), to the complaints of strong violence…in a movie made by Quentin f*ckin Taratino. But what irked me the most, how people are overeacting to the use of the word “n*gger”, so much so, that motherf*ckers are actually counting how many times it was used (I think the official number is 99). But whatever, I loved the movie. It’s in my Top 10 of all time.

    • The Human Spider (@HumanSpiderACNJ)

      Meanwhile, the “Grandad’s Fight” episode on The Boondocks had over 100+ “n*ggas.” Or was that “The S-Word”…?

    • camilleblue

      I haven’t had the opportunity to see it yet, but I’m with you TUK…the “outrage” over the use of n*gger in the movie is ridiculous to me. Black people most certainly were not being addressed as “Mr. & Mrs” during that time frame so….really? People are upset that n*gger was used during a slavery period movie?? And it’s racist because a White man made the movie? Ok.

    • Deviant

      The use of “nig.ger” was completely appropriate to the context of the movie. People seem to confuse ignorance (the mispronunciation of actual words that just meant black) with malice (the use of the word to denigrate black people). It was a noun like “dog” or “cat.” It’s not like white people in the south just made the word up to make the slaves who couldn’t understand they’re language feel less than human. (I’m pretty sure that’s what the whips and nooses were for.) It’s just what people with black skin were called until they decided they didn’t want to be called that anymore. All of this “outrage” is bullshit. If Spike Lee or John Singleton or even Ice Cube directed this movie no one would be crying foul.

  • The Human Spider (@HumanSpiderACNJ)

    I will say this: What bugs me is that there will be an uproar over a movie like a Django, but ten movies that look like or are “Soul Plane” will get made and nobody will bat an eyelash.

    • Royale W. Cheese

      Right? Plus, “we” get offended when we hear the use of the n-word in the historically accurate way, but think it’s cool when we hear it used in Soul Plane cinema. I thought that the use of the n-word in Django was very effective in making the speakers of it look backwards and foolish.

      • Yoles

        this is my question to the masses…
        ~~
        it feel so huck finn-esque

        • lurkeyturkey

          ^TEN THOUSAND SNAPS TO THIS

          Huck Finn was some of the most racist, disturbing garbage I’ve ever read, flagrantly using the n-word, but its seen as an American Classic. Puh-lease. Django is not nearly as bad, yet its receiving so much flack.

          This is a perfect case of when being politically correct fails everyone.

      • Yoles

        this is my question to the masses…
        ~~
        it feels so huck finn-esque

      • Wu Young, Agent of M.E.

        “Plus, “we” get offended when we hear the use of the n-word in the historically accurate way, but think it’s cool when we hear it used in Soul Plane cinema.”

        I used to hate when my non-black prof’s would say “N-word” during the lecture. I also hate when reporters say “N-word” when quoting someone on the news. I’m an adult and I understand the context of the situation so please just say the word.

        • T

          uh yeah…if you have no problem with your college professors using nigger/nigga, you probably have alot of other problems going on, mentally. I promise you, if those same professors regularly used slurs for jewish people, they would be tossed out on their ear – as they should be. Black people, really? WOW.

    • ChaoticDiva

      Soul Plane = 2 hours better spent holding a straw for Lindsey Lohan while she snorts.

    • Todd

      WORD! Ain’t that the God Damn TRUTH!

    • http://verysmartbrothas.com The Champ

      I will say this: What bugs me is that there will be an uproar over a movie like a Django, but ten movies that look like or are “Soul Plane” will get made and nobody will bat an eyelash.

      eh, you can’t say that. people are still batting eyelashes about soul plane, and that was made like 10 years ago

      • The Human Spider

        *raises hand in guilt*

        True. I mention it only as a contrast to Django. Outside of a few jokes regarding how bad it was, most times it’s like those kind of movies are expected of us, because it’s supposed to be “lighthearted.”

        But I’m done…

      • Breezy

        Champ, I dont know if you guys will see this but after a certain amount of comments…the comments section is all messed up. All the comments run together or they are overlapping one another, the screen background color changes from gray to black…its a total mess. I think Rewind mentioned that he had the same issue when you guys first converted to the new format. I don’t know if anyone else is experiencing this problem. Is there a setting or something I need to fix on my end? I am using Mozilla Firefox as my browser. THANKS

        • Rewind

          I’m still getting it damn near everytime I post. I have to keep refreshing the page, and I can’t respond to every post because they begin to overlap.

          Anyway Breezy, I’m still going to laugh at your pain. Now go see the damn movie!

  • Royale W. Cheese

    I enjoyed the movie, even down to the details about Brunhilde’s story. My own ancestors were owned by immigrant Europeans (Irish) in Mississippi and one of my ancestors was given a name from Irish folklore, Saint Patrick. So I didn’t think it far-fetched that a black woman was given a German folkloric name and taught to speak German.

    Regarding how to explain slavery to blissfully ignorant people, I find it effective to simply call it “owning people.” If a people-owner is morally depraved (or even of just average morality), guess what kind of things happen when the “owned” try to run away, are accused of discussing killing the owner in order to be free, happen to be attractive women who do not have the right to say no, are worth a couple of thousand and the owner needs to make some quick cash? Anyone who can remain blissfully ignorant about how real that ish can get lacks imagination or is brain dead.

    Now how do Stephens come to be? Well just like in modern day people-owning, e.g., prostitution, one of the owned is going to try to improve their station in life by selling out all of the other owned folks by being the owner’s top ace boon coon (non pun intended), stool pigeon, spy, etc. And as long as master is prosperous and protected, so is the top stool pigeon.

    • Rewind

      Yea but they end up the mosted hated out of the group, which is why no one came to save his ass in the end. Just like Django needed to play a slave that needs to be hated by other slaves to get close to Calvin, and the slaves in the wagon didn’t do a damn thing to help him because they remembered what he did.

      Saving your own ass only gets you but so far.

  • hehe

    I really liked the movie and plan on seeing it again. I’m not going to lie a part of me felt kind of ashamed to see it due to the backlash kinda like black guilt. I first heard of the movie being made from the petition going around about a year ago when the screen play was leaked. Even then I thought the concept was cool.

    I would love to see a slavery revenge movie that’s historically accurate about Nat Turner or about The Haitian Revolution. Doubt that would happen.

    • Val

      “I would love to see a slavery revenge movie that’s historically accurate about Nat Turner or about The Haitian Revolution. Doubt that would happen.”

      +1

      • Mr SoBo – OpinionatedMale.com

        I’m confident serious scripts of that nature have been submitted many times over. It’s doubtful such a film will ever greenlighted. There would be too much concern over the possible societal implications such a film would have on the psyche of blacks. We may get empowered. So in the meantime, The Misadventures of Pooty Tang’s Soul Plane II Society For Colored Girls and the likes will keep us mind numbingly entertained and in our place. Hollywood aint stupid.

        • lurkeyturkey

          “The Misadventures of Pooty Tang’s Soul Plane II Society For Colored Girls and the likes will keep us mind numbingly entertained and in our place.”

          #iDied

        • lurkeyturkey

          “The Misadventures of Pooty Tang’s Soul Plane II Society For Colored Girls and the likes will keep us mind numbingly entertained and in our place.”

          #iDied

    • The Human Spider (@HumanSpiderACNJ)

      “I would love to see a slavery revenge movie that’s historically accurate about Nat Turner or about The Haitian Revolution. Doubt that would happen.”

      Danny Glover had been trying to get a Toussaint L’Overture movie out for over a decade or so, but NO ONE has been willing to fund it.

      • Eps

        No one will fund it not because of some racist ish from Hollywood, but because folks will not turn out to see.

        But maybe that is what makes Hollywood racist. It only cares about the color green.

      • T

        I would like to see movies that have a majority black actors in creative, imaginative roles other than slaves, like in a sci-fi or fantasy/fiction.

    • Wu Young, Agent of M.E.

      I’m still waiting on a movie about Robert Smalls. He jacked a confedrate warship and then got elected to congress. How player is that?